Two weeks ago, I provided you with an overall description of sustainability consulting as an occupation and a list of some of the major sustainability consulting companies. As promised, this week I delve into a bit more detail about how you can launch a career in sustainability consulting (though much of this advice translates across other areas as well.) If you put a concerted effort into determining where it is that you and your skills best fit, you should be able to evaluate whether sustainability consulting is where you belong or perhaps whether there is a different space where you fit even better AND you can still have the impact you so desire.
Is sustainability consulting right for you? Ask yourself the following questions (and coming up with some answers helps too):
Do I have sustainability consulting skills already?
Generally for consulting, be it of the sustainability variety or otherwise, a strong analytical background is helpful (I know, shocking) whether it comes in the form of engineering, financial modeling, operations analysis or a specific certification such as Six Sigma. Sustainability consulting firms often look to bring on experienced individuals from traditional backgrounds to be able drive value to the good ‘ole bottom line. Also, depending on a specific firm’s methodologies and client base, experience within a specific sector such as government or utilities could be highly valued. (To see where “climate change consulting” demand currently stands, peruse this.)
Where are the connections?
Look at your resume and consider: where are the logical connections to sustainability here? Also, is there a better way to make those connections obvious? For example, if you compared two projects to determine which is the better investment, make explicit the metrics utilized and the benefits that were realized based on your fantastic recommendations. If environmental concerns were part of the equation, be sure to call that out.
Is my passion clearly displayed?
Credibility is paramount in the green space. Is your interest/passion clearly displayed on your resume? This is more important than ever since lots of talented, impressive people are on-the-hunt and so it needs to be obvious that this career choice isn’t because you have heard that “green is the future and hey, no one else is hiring!” Make sure your resume reflects thoughtful involvement or dedication to the movement through volunteering, memberships, and green projects (not just “I recycle”) – obviously you can continue to develop this over time.
Finally, as I am sure you are well aware, sustainability consulting is very *hot* right now – a large percentage of the jobseekers that come to us say that’s where they want to find their next job. When it comes down to it, you are likely competing against a large and rockstar pool of candidates, many of whom have the requisite skill set and experience. If you don’t happen to have a background that dovetails quite so nicely into sustainability consulting, fear not! There are other ways to be able to gain that experience or take a different path that could allow you to have the impact you are looking to make. How, you ask?
Next week, I will focus on other places to apply your skills and knowledge…but if this idea intrigues you, I encourage you to check out a great book, “Tempered Radicals: How Everyday Leaders Inspire Change at Work.” And when it comes down to it, we need passionate people from all areas tapping into their passions and abilities to enact change everywhere!
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