5 ways to penetrate the ‘green job’ market


Scores of fortune 500 companies from Alcoa to Dell to General Mills to Wal-Mart are all going green. Many companies like Starbucks, Home Depot and Eastman Kodak are being held accountable by their stockholders and consumers to reduce their carbon footprint. Companies now realize that being green is a core business issue.

All of that spells more jobs in a widening array of career fields. There is no better time to invest in your own future and the future of our planet by joining the revolution.

The June 11, 2009 Greenwire article, “Green Jobs Sector Poised for Explosive Growth”, quotes the Pew Center on the States’ Interim Deputy Director Lori Grange as saying, “The nation’s clean-energy economy is poised for explosive growth….the trends include surging venture capital investments….a critical growth rate in clean-energy generation, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products.” Cleary employment in renewable energy is slated to increase substantially. So, how do you get in?

Deciding what is right for you

Being unemployed in any market can be frightening, frustrating, and financially devastating if you are unemployed for a long period of time. But, let me ask you, how passionate were you about the job you lost? Recent statistics have shown that a staggering 80% of those employed are dissatisfied with their jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee spends 8.2 hours a day working. If you’re going to spend a third of your life doing something, you should not only enjoy it, but you should find it meaningful and rewarding, too. Now that you are on the market, why not see this as an opportunity to re-think your true calling and focus on positions that will be ultimately more rewarding for you.

“To thine own self be true”
~ Shakespeare

An April 2007 study by the University of Chicago found that the most satisfied and happy workers were in jobs that focused on serving other people. Michael Henderson writes in Finding Truth North (2003), “It is our values that give us meaning in life, and meaning, in turn provides us with strength, motivation, and willpower.” Not a bad cache of attributes to take with you to the workplace.

Think about this: Aligning your professional work with your personal values can help you increase your productivity, lower stress, feel fulfilled and raise your morale. Who wouldn’t want to do that? If your outlook on life, your behavior and politics are green, maybe it’s time for your career to match.

Finding employment in the Green Sector

While some specialized positions may require retraining, many other environmental positions are available. Eco-friendly companies need environmentally competent accountants, technicians, researchers, scientists, managers, sales and marketing professionals, and all of the knowledge and creativity that any other company does. Ultimately, being green is a choice that you can apply to any work you do.

In most cases, finding a green job is no different than finding any type of job. The basics like developing an appropriate resume, targeting where to post it, writing customized cover letters and focusing your search are the same. The difference is the slant you give to your job search.

Find your focus

First, determine what industry you’d like to work in. Are you interested in green building? Renewable energy? Energy efficiency? Do a little homework on each to find what interests you the most.

Once you have narrowed your focus, obtain as much education as possible. If you don’t have time or finances for a 2 to 4 year college or university degree, take some short courses. The industry offers many top-notch educational centers such as the Solar Living Institute (Solarliving.org), Evergreen Institute (EvergreenInstitute.org), Solar Energy International (SolarEnergy.org), and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (the- mrea.org), the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (ibew.org) also offers training and certifications for its members. There are organizations like these in almost every state so spend sometime searching for groups in your area.

Network, Network, Network

As you already know most jobs are not posted so think of all the networking avenues that are available to you. There is no better way to land a job sooner than later than to be face to face with a potential employer. Attend local and regional association meetings and annual conferences of renewable energy and green-building organizations. Volunteering for your local chapter can give you an edge as well. It shows potential employers that you committed to becoming an active participant in the industry.

Two of the largest associations that have chapters throughout the country are The American Solar Energy Association (ASEA.org), and the U.S. Green Builders Council (USGBC.org). There are also many clean tech and green professional groups you can find online.

If relocating is an option, look for jobs in renewable energy hotspots – states where local incentive programs are driving the industry at a fast pace. You can read about incentives offered by various states at the Database on State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency site- (www.dsireusa.org).

Focus on what you do best

You will be transferring and adapting your skills, in addition to learning about the green technology sector. Focus on what you did well in your last job you really enjoyed. That is the same “muscle” you will flex in your new found green job.

If you have a marketing background, realize that at the end of the day marketing is marketing. Understanding what a successful marketing campaign entails and how to run one is more important than what you will be marketing. Understanding the product you are marketing is something you can learn.

“Renewable Energy and energy efficiency can create skilled, well-paying jobs, many of which are not subject to foreign outsourcing.” – American Solar Energy Society, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency: Economic Drivers of the Twenty-First Century, 2007. This is another good reason to set your sights on the green job market.

There are numerous job sites that focus specifically on green technology. If you Google “green jobs” or “green collar jobs” you will find many resources. There are also quite a few books on the market that will help you gain insight into the Green Job Market. One that I recommend is “Green Jobs – A Guide to Eco-Friendly Employment” by A. Bronwin Llewellyn, M.A., James P. Hendrix, Ph.D. and K.C. Golden, M.A.

The workforce of tomorrow is an increasingly green one. Finding a job in the green sector can be a challenge, but it is the most promising employment sector on the horizon. If you are persistent, gain the knowledge and practical experience you need, and meet folks in the industry whenever possible, you chances will increase dramatically.