How to ensure your career is having an impact

Did you ever consider whether your career has an impact? Before you consider the question though, let’s consider what “impact” means in the context of your career.

From my experience as a sustainability recruiter, I see three types of impact jobs:

Tier 1: Primary. These jobs carry an inherent link to social and/or environmental impact. Professionals in Tier 1 have the technical or business acumen to deconstruct a specific aspect of sustainability and operationalize it across their organization. Like Kathrin Winkler, chief sustainability officer at EMC, who considers herself a change agent working across departments and hierarchies to prioritize sustainability. Or Josh Maltby, Practice Lead at Procurian, who helps reduce energy usage in data centers, production lines and other industrial settings. Or Lance Hosey, who runs the nonprofit GreenBlue, which equips businesses with the science and resources to make products more sustainable.

I post about two of these Tier 1 positions every day on my website at Ellen's List. Examples include:

  • Sustainability Manager, Energy and Water Stewardship at MillerCoors.
  • Coordinator Global Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility, Tiffany & Co
  • Social Responsibility Specialist at Nordstrom

Tier 2: Secondary. These are the connectors — the ones with the ideas, the enthusiasm but not necessarily the job titles or the academic knowledge of their Tier 1 colleagues. Opportunities for positive social and environmental change exist in their workplaces and jobs, but they are not the centerpiece of these jobs. Like the folks at Application Experts, a Broomfield, Colo.-based B Corp that develops cloud-based software solutions to help alternative asset managers track the success of their investments.

Secondaries are self-starters. They muster the organization's web of hierarchies and boards to take note, stand up and make an impact. Their own involvement might be as sundry as starting a green team or hosting — and heavily promoting — the annual Weekend of Love, like Christian Yazdanpanah, Manager of Positive Impact at Agencies of Change, does. Tier 2 folks are the rousers — and often the most enthusiastic about making a difference.

Next page: (Job) boards of education