What is a green job anyway, and is there a role for you in this much-touted emerging green economy?
As recently defined by the White House:
“Green jobs are jobs that provide products and services which use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources and reconstitute waste."
See HubPages collection of the Top 25 Green Collar Jobs for a recent list of options.
Considering the realities of climate change, the end of dependence on fossil fuels, and scarcity of resources, it’s probable that almost any job created in this millennium will interface with the environment in important ways.
Green Job Search Strategy
In seeking a meaningful career that employs your education, talents and life experiences, it’s crucial to have a plan. There are countless approaches to any job search, with many excellent referral sources, some of which are listed at the bottom of this page. But let’s take a simplified view of strategic planning for you as a new grad scanning the green job environment.
Step One: SWOT Analysis
If you’re not an MBA, you may have no experience with SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). It’s a quick way to evaluate the pros and cons of your position as a jobseeker, assess external threats and opportunities, and strategize your way into a sustainable career niche.
Here’s an example of general green industry SWOT for new grads:
- Education through recent coursework or volunteer activities in environmental science, climate change, and current public policy issues
- Familiarity with terminology around climate change, renewable energy, and other environmental issues
- Facility with computers, the Internet, social media, and online research tools.
- Lack of a job history
- Undifferentiated from the mass of other job-seekers
- Little experience with job search strategies.
- Appreciation: young industries such as wind and solar attract young minds; they welcome fresh ideas and enthusiasm
- Mobility: without spouse/family ties, you’re able to travel to wherever the jobs are
- Campus environment: you’ve probably been exposed to concepts of conservation & sustainability, and witnessed/participated in building or retrofitting projects on campus.
- Older workers are retooling to compete for green jobs
- Relative newness of the green job movement
- Low availability of jobs in general
Create your own SWOT Analysis as a first step in your green job search. Using SWOT, you can crystallize your own strengths, overcome your weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities and downplay threats in the job search environment.
This lays the groundwork for a better job search. Your resume will be more focused on your strengths, and will be better prepared for interviews when you have done this analysis of yourself.
See Mindtools for more information on SWOT, and do your own personal SWOT.
Step Two: Homework
Thought homework was a thing of the past? It was just good training for your future.
Get busy targeting companies and organizations that would be a good match for your knowledge, experience, and skills. Learn everything you can about the culture, philosophy, and accomplishments of your targets so that you are better able to craft your cover letters and resumes and prepare for interviews.
Jobs in Green Industries
Green Industry Associations
Step Three: Action Plan
Make a Plan (it will change):
- Brainstorm your green career goal.
- Break the goal into smaller objectives.
- Put your goal and objectives in writing.
- Make a timeline for implementing the objectives and achieving your goal.
Leverage your network of contacts:
- Line up a support system to keep you focused during your job search.
- Contact your network from summer and volunteer jobs and let them know you’re looking.
- Share your goal with friends and their parents, your school counseling office, alumni organizations, the local chamber of commerce, community groups you have joined.
- Thank everyone who helps you in even a small way.
Additional Job-Hunt Sources:
Take advantage of Job-Hunt’s many invaluable job search links and articles. Begin with these resources:
The Riley Guide to the Job Search Process
JobStar's listing of guides to careers in ecology and the environment
© Copyright, 2009, Kathleen Lyons. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Job-Hunt's Green Jobs Job Search expert, Kathleen Lyons, is a workforce training and performance support specialist, and the publisher and editor of Green Job Idea Blog. She believes that the emerging green economy offers huge opportunities for both white- and blue-collar job seekers to find satisfying and meaningful work. Kathleen holds membership in the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), Co-op America, The International EcoTourism Club and the Cape & Islands Renewable Energy Collaborative.