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Crafting your sustainability resume for success in 2019

Are you ready for a new position in 2019?

While it often takes effort and sacrifice, each initiative your team develops and sustainability goal you help achieve while serving on a sustainability team could be the stepping stone to your next professional move. As a sustainability team member, you cultivated transferable skills, many of which will be relevant for your next dream position.

What did you do?

Hopefully you’ve kept records of what your team has worked on, the measurable results you produced and most relevantly, your role in this work. While you reflect on past accomplishments and lessons learned, this is a great time to sit down and have a conversation with your team leader, or if you are the leader, several members of the team you led. Ask them to describe your role in the work and what they saw as the individual strengths you brought to the table. You may have developed critical skills that you aren’t able to see in yourself.

Here are some common functions of a sustainability team:

  • Organize corporate campaigns and events related to sustainability

  • Work with the sustainability department to ensure that all actions align with the company's overarching mission

  • Establish eco-friendly purchasing activities

  • Write grants to secure funding for sustainability initiatives and positions

  • Obtain certifications and endorsements that pertain to your company's industry

  • Develop volunteer opportunities for your team members to make a positive impact on the climate both inside and outside the company

  • Create engaging and fun opportunities for your employees to learn about sustainability

  • Participate in waste audits and ensure compliance with internally set company sustainability goals

  • Establish communication avenues between your company's executives and stakeholders, as well as a structure to share sustainability information and events

What are the transferable skills related to a sustainability team?

Well, it depends. What was your role on the team? What did the team accomplish? And most important, what is the new position you are applying for?

My Next Move provides a career search option that will highlight knowledge, skills and abilities that will be crucial in your desired position. This will help you sift through your experiences and decide what to highlight and what to leave out.

Here are some transferable skills you may have refined as a sustainability team member:

  • Organizational: You organized meetings, solved problems and planned and implemented campaigns.

  • Interpersonal: You recruited new team members, resolved conflicts and built community relationships.

  • Management: You oversaw budgets, created timelines and prioritized projects.

  • Communication: You wrote marketing or public relations plans, spoke in front of audiences and listened to feedback.

  • Leadership: You shared newfound sustainability knowledge, motivated a team and evaluated vendors.

  • Research & analysis: You planned baselines for sustainability goals, measured campaign outcomes and developed metrics for future analysis.

Creating presentations, interfacing with contacts from different departments, coordinating initiatives with executives, and speaking in front of groups weren’t just "things" you did. These are valuable skills you and your team members developed and you will use them to create additional value in your new role.

As you prepare to market your skills to a new employer, consider: How did your efforts contribute to each outcome that the sustainability team achieved in the past?
As you prepare to market your skills to a new employer, consider: How did your efforts contribute to each outcome that the sustainability team achieved in the past?

Clearly make your value claim, and use the data you’ve collected — from your colleagues, managers, executives, emails and your own memory — to support that claim. Bring the transferable skills that guided your actions to the forefront as you communicate how your experience has prepared you for this new role.

Sunya Ojure, senior manager of sustainability at Salesforce, shares how the volunteers on Earthforce (the company’s special interest group focused on promoting sustainability and global good) use the skills they honed as Earthforce members to support and advance their careers. "Earthforce is such an incredible leadership and growth opportunity for people," she said. "We see individuals growing their skill sets and building incredible cross-functional relationships that can be used to grow their network."

Participating in a sustainability team is an invaluable source of corporate and personal leadership growth that continues long after 5 p.m. Whether you are looking internally within your company or using resources such as My Next Move or Glassdoor to pinpoint a new position, having a clear understanding of the skills and tools you bring to your next position will create a lasting impression.

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