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A Tip to Green Jobseekers: Tap the Hidden Power of Helping Others

Jobseeking can be a lonely, self-centered process. People often sit alone day after day, slogging through job boards, online applications and career fairs where the continual refrain is "apply through our site." It's easy for them to start to feel that they are constantly asking favors of friends and friends-of-friends for connections to organizations that may or may not be hiring.

Highly qualified candidates who are seasoned vets within the sustainability space, or trying to transition into this realm, can begin to question whether they do indeed have much to offer, since rejection -- or even worse, silence -- seems to indicate otherwise. If you fall into this category, please remember that it is an extremely challenging time to be looking for a job -- be it green or otherwise!

Amidst all the statistics about skyrocketing unemployment and mass layoffs, the story that is often missing is the psychological toll brought on by a prolonged job search in a bad economy. Jobseekers begin to feel powerless, that their skills aren't valued, and that their voices aren't being heard. As a career coach at Bright Green Talent, I have seen this time and again with the most impressive people you can imagine.

One of the most important messages I try to convey is this: Just as critical to a successful job search as resume polishing, cover letter writing and networking is finding ways to empower yourself.

The best way to do this can sometimes seem counterintuitive but is tried and true -- helping others. Rather than asking all of your contacts for connections, help another jobseeker find career opportunities. Join a mentoring network through your alumni association or nonprofits groups such as Upwardly Global. Find a volunteer project where you can contribute your unique skills to help an organization grow. Join Net Impact and take on a leadership role in your local chapter.

I should emphasize that this is not an argument for creating good karma. It is because the simple act of helping in and of itself is a way to move yourself in the right direction -- from helpless to helper. This action has a variety of benefits that have been studied at length within positive psychology but when it comes down to it, we feel better about ourselves when we help other people.

If you are a jobseeker, it is critical to understand that this will not only help you cope after long days of seemingly wasted time, but will also keep you articulate and sharp when you get a chance to "pitch yourself" in an interview or networking event.

Of course, the more obvious benefits are there, too. You are expanding your own network, you'll have other things to talk to people about (enthusiastically!) besides the fact that you are looking for a job, which presents you in a better light, and you may even gain some new skills or learn something new.

For our own part at Bright Green Talent, we're always trying to find ways to help our social and environmental impact reach around the world to the places where its needed most. We recently launched a campaign in which, for every 50 resumes that are registered with us, we'll sponsor the education of a child in Madagascar for one year. Yes, having more resumes on hand helps us place people into meaningful careers with environmentally-minded organizations more quickly -- recruiting is, to some extent, simply a matter of being able to find the right people at the right time.

Beyond that, we believe this campaign plays into the concept of empowering jobseekers to feel that they're part of a larger movement of good work. Education -- both about environmental issues and to promote economic security and development -- is key to promoting stewardship of the world's natural resources. Spreading education and opportunity to others, in whatever form, is one of the most important tasks we can take on whether employed or unemployed.

So if you are a jobseeker, find ways to pay it forward. You actions are more powerful than you can ever know both for the receiver and for yourself!

Christina Gilyutin is director of development and chief career counselor at Bright Green Talent, which helps connect people with green jobs around the world.

CC licensed by Flickr user nathalielaure.

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