Seven Tips for Attracting the Best Players to Your Green Business

The Sustainable MBA

Seven Tips for Attracting the Best Players to Your Green Business

"The team with the best players wins."
-- Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric


Finding and retaining talented, dedicated employees is crucial for the success of any new or growing company. In a job market where more and more young people and working professionals are leaning toward socially and environmentally responsible employers, green businesses have a competitive edge. In fact, in a 2007 Harris Interactive survey, 33 percent of adults polled would prefer to work for a green company and 60 percent believed their companies should do more to be environmentally responsible.

While the numbers look good, green employers still face the challenge of finding the right candidates - professionals who have both strong business or technical skills and an understanding of sustainability. Marie Kerpan, the founder of Green Careers, a career consulting practice, says this is a common issue for managers in green businesses. "If an employee has the skills, can the values be learned? Or, if a candidate has the sustainability perspective, can the skills be taught? You really need to hire for both."

Green Recruiting Strategies

In an evolving marketplace with greater emphasis on the triple bottom line, more resources are becoming available to help prepare a new workforce and assist green employers in finding the right fit for their companies. These six strategies can help green businesses target their recruiting efforts to attract the most business-savvy and eco-minded candidates.

Be Visible: Make sure that eco-conscious professionals know about your company. Speak or host a booth at green events and conferences such as the Green Festival, Bioneers conference, and the Net Impact conference. Advertise in magazines and on blogs that your future employees are likely to read. Visit college classes as a guest speaker. John Sullivan, a management professor at San Francisco State University, offers additional advice on how to enhance your visibility to potential employees in his article "Steps to Implement Green Recruiting."

Target Your College Recruiting: Connect with students and graduates of colleges with sustainability-focused programs and degrees. Contact career development offices to learn how you can post openings to student job boards or attend a recruiting event. Need a freshly-minted MBA with both business skills and training in sustainable business practices? The pioneering "green MBA" programs at Presidio School of Management, Dominican University's Green MBA, and Bainbridge Graduate Institute now educate hundreds of students in a triple bottom line approach to management. Net Impact's 2007 Guide to Graduate Business Programs describes how more than 50 other MBA programs incorporate sustainability into their curriculum. Arizona State University's new School of Sustainability offers both graduate and undergraduate programs. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education hosts a growing directory of degree programs.

Offer Internships for Sustainability Degree Students: Test-drive candidates by offering internship opportunities year-round. Partner with green degree programs (such as those mentioned above) that work with you to match their students with your company's project needs.

Post on Specialty Job Boards: Post your openings on green job boards such as those hosted by JustMeans.com, Treehugger.com, GreenBiz.com, Net Impact, SustainableBusiness.com, Grist.org, and Monster's Green Careers site. Make sure you have adequate resources to screen the incoming resumes as job board postings sometimes yield a large volume of responses.

Leverage Social Networking: Encourage employees to use their social networks, such as LinkedIn or Facebook, to connect with potential candidates. Make use of professional services from companies like JustMeans.com to raise your visibility on social networking sites.

Work with Green Recruiters: If you use them, consider working with a recruiter that specializes in filling green jobs. A number of small and independent recruiters, such as Bright Green Talent, have adopted this focus and larger firms are beginning to carve out an offering in this area. Expect to see more specialists appear in the coming year.

Green Your Benefits Package: Socially conscious employees will be attracted to companies that support their desire to make a positive contribution. Offer employees paid time to volunteer in the local community. Include socially-responsible funds in your 401(k) plan. Match employee contributions to social and environmental causes.

In the coming years, as more large companies tout their environmental and social commitments and more green businesses are minted, competition for employees will be keen. Using every means available to recruit the "best players" for your team will be critical for success.

Stacey Marvel is a student in the Presidio School of Management Sustainable MBA program. She has more than 15 years experience developing business and marketing plans, websites, and online marketing programs for socially responsible companies and non-profits. She is currently working to develop a suite of online sustainable business training programs.