Green job boards are popping up all over the internet. I review them regularly and my assessment is this: the chances that you will land a job in sustainability because of something you see on a job board are slim. Very slim. Consider that in more flush times, Americans have a much higher chance to find a job through networking than responding to an ad. Statistics vary, but I have seen anywhere from 60% – 80% quoted as the percentage of jobs found through networking. Now consider that these are difficult times for the American job market and companies are having a hard enough time finding the resources to add jobs to their payroll that we all know and understand, let alone something “new” like sustainability director. In a nutshell, there is not much on these job boards in either quantity or quality to give a job seeker hope.
Does that mean that there should be no hope at all? Absolutely not. Green jobs are out there, but many of them are just not at the types of companies that post on job boards. They are the types of jobs that can be found by networking. I regularly tell the students that I work with that they absolutely must network if they want to build a career in sustainability. They must get involved with community organizations. They must volunteer. They must meet people and make their names and faces known. They must ask questions. They must put themselves out there. The same holds true for anyone wanting to forge a career path in this field, whether they be a recent college graduate or a seasoned professional seeking a career change.
Ok, you might say, networking makes sense, but how? Where? I believe the answer lies in a combination of in-person and online networking. In-person networking tools include:
- Green Drinks. If you have regular Green Drinks meetings in your area, I encourage you to attend. Often held as happy hours, these are informal networking opportunities for sustainability professionals. In my city, Green Drinks meets monthly.
- Meetup.com. Meetups have become a very popular way to meet people with similar interests and there are many meetups with a sustainability focus. You can find a meetup that suits you on the internet, then meet people in person.
- Green Chamber of Commerce. A growing organization that focuses on promoting sustainable businesses, but you don’t have to be a business to join. Monthly meetings are great for networking, as are the educational workshops. Not available everywhere, but if you have one in your town, become a member.
Search for other local organizations that have a sustainability focus. One thing often leads to another thing, so ask questions of the people you meet. Find out where they go and who they know.
The internet has certainly made the world smaller. I am sure that most of you are well aware of these social networking sites, but you might not have considered using them as part of your job search. If you are a job seeker in sustainability, at least one of these should be part of your arsenal:
- LinkedIn. The more business-oriented of all of the popular social networking tools, LinkedIn is like an online Rolodex but better because it allows you to connect with people through your own connections. Your profile page can serve as an online resume, so make sure it is up-to-date and professional. This is not the web site to announce that you are headed to the car wash or to let everyone know where you went for happy hour last night!
- Facebook. If you are going to use Facebook, you need to decide if it will be for pleasure or business. It cannot be both. Indiscriminate postings have trashed many people’s job prospects and, in some cases, cost people jobs they already had. Job seekers with Facebook accounts that have been used for personal pleasure would be wise to regularly visit their Facebook pages and remove any potentially damaging photos or posts. If someone else has posted a photo of a you on a drunken escapade in college, remove your tag. Yes, potential employers look at these things and yes, they might make a judgment about you as a job candidate based on what they see.
- Twitter. Again, as with Facebook, if you are going to use Twitter as a job seeking professional, keep your “tweets” professional. Twitter is full of people and organizations with an interest or focus on sustainability, so use Twitter to develop relationships and you might find yourself connecting with the right person who can lead you to the right job!
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