Tips for job search season

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Tips for job search season

Twice a year, jobseekers are out in full force: now and New Years tend to be jobseekers’ high season. In the spirit of the season, here are five tips to support those in job-search mode.

1. Develop a pipeline of opportunities

Lessons from selling can be applied to the job search. In addition to selling yourself, you should think of your job search as a funnel or a pipeline of opportunities. On one end you have the opportunities coming into the pipe and the other end you have a job offer accepted.

The sustainability pipeline can require more relationships, more networking and more demonstrating your value than a traditional pipeline. The search can be more homegrown and does not necessarily follow a traditional path. It is also a longer pipe in that it can take more time. Time requires patience and holding out for the right thing takes perseverance.

2. Consider the give and take

Your appeal as a job candidate goes beyond what you bring to the position. A potential employer also wants to see how a position can benefit you and your professional development. Employers understand that your interest in a position is not altruistic, and they want to know what you expect to get out of your work. “Good fit” goes both ways: Employers want a good fit with a new employee as much as an employee does. In addition to presenting why you are the best candidate, consider how an opportunity works well for your own professional development, and be ready to express that in interviews and in your cover letter.

This advice is even more sound for the sustainability job seeker than for those seeking other types of jobs because the “passion factor” holds more weight in the sustainability arena. Sustainability job seekers are hungrier for jobs that will allow them to make a difference. In fact, according to the Net Impact study What Workers Want in 2012, 35 percent of students surveyed said they would take a 15 percent pay cut to work for a company committed to corporate social responsibility. The same study found that workers who are able to make a social and environmental impact on the job are most satisfied by a margin of two to one.

3. Make sure the pipe is filled with opportunities

Always keep the pipeline stocked with opportunities. At the very least, develop a process to keep apprised of sustainability job opportunities. I have developed a resource that will allow you to keep apprised of the sustainability job market. As a recruiter, sustainability jobs cross my desk every day. I select a few each day that are particularly interesting and post them on Ellen’s List. You can also use Facebook or Twitter to access the list. And just to clarify, Ellen’s list is not a list of our searches. We pass the list to you because we want to support your own search, whether or not you are hired through one of our searches.

4. Understand that “sustainability” is not the niche

Your brother-in-law might think that sustainability is a small niche, but among those in the field, sustainability has several of its own niches. Once you have figured out what your particular niche is, you should develop a process to keep the pipeline stocked within your niche. There is a three-step process for developing your own niche opportunity pipeline.

  • First you need to find the sites that work best for you. For example, GreenBiz is a good resource of job postings; other sustainability job sites are listed here.
  • Second, identify the search that best fits your needs, using keywords, location, and other factors relevant to you and your interests.
  • Third, set up those searches in an RSS tool such as Google Reader. If you have no idea what I am talking about it, it is really easy. I have developed a video demonstration here.

5. Check out the current hot niches

With the economy recovering, hiring follows. Some niches are hotter than others. Here are a few:

  • LCA skills: Largely driven by the Sustainability Coalition, the need for expertise in life-cycle analysis (LCA) is increasing.
  • Food and agriculture: The food and ag sector recognizes the various risks within the food supply chain. The sustainability programs within this sector are growing faster than others.
  • Energy and ecosystem services: Water, energy and carbon are just a few ecosystem services that companies use every day, and which they can responsibly manage. Using these services efficiently and responsibility is a growing agenda item at many companies. Specialists who understand ecosystem services are highly valued.
  • The nonprofit sector: Nonprofits are rebounding and so are the jobs.

Finally, consider uploading your resume to our website. Our database is free and your resume will be treated as confidential. When we sign a contract for a new search, we first go to our database to identify candidates that are a good match. We will contact you if a good fit opportunity arises.

Image of maze by Monkik via Shutterstock.