How to land an environmental job

04.01.2014


How to land an environmental job
Preparing yourself for an environmental job search

The environmental field is exploding with new job opportunities. According to the National Solar Foundation, the solar industry alone added more than 23,000 new jobs in 2013. That represents a growth of 19.9 percent in the last year. Employment rose 10 times faster than the national average as well, showing the strength of just one sector of the renewable energy industry.

For workers looking to break into the new industry, finding one of these burgeoning positions starts with a new resume. However, targeted industry experience may not be necessary. The Guardian explains that employers are adding new environmental positions in nearly every field, from oil to aerospace, to better meet energy needs.  One key tool that will be weighed heavily in the application process is work experience.

The Guardian recommends that if you are changing your career path, you should look for opportunities to gain experience whenever possible. Two examples include helping a new environmental project or finding a local sustainability committee to join. For those who can't find such opportunities, volunteering can also play a big role in the strength of work experience, showing dedication to a cause and practical skills.

Suite 101 adds that if you have studied environmental sciences or similar subjects, mentioning a specific concentration in your resume can be highly beneficial, as it shines better light upon the specific expertise you have gained. Relevant coursework can also be beneficial in the event that it can be tied to the role you're applying to.

Expanding your network can have benefits

Environmental job searching is much like other job searching, as networking is almost always advised. Hopefuls are recommended to attend events, conferences and lectures when at all possible. Joining professional bodies, such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, can also have benefits. The IEMA, for example, organizes networking events often, listing a number of different potential positions in the process. Other networking sites like LinkedIn can be helpful as well, allowing applicants to educate themselves on the various companies and players in the industry.

It's also important to know specific skills that can pay off, even if they aren't directly related. Skills that aren't specific to the industry at hand may be just as important as technical skills. It may help to know how to intertwine skills in field work with technical abilities, like dealing with statistics or global positioning, and personal abilities, like with report writing or problem-solving skills.

Changing careers can boost chances

For those completely changing gears on their careers, finding a new job may not be as difficult as expected. Many environmental experts have said that employers are looking for skillsets not just filled with field knowledge but commercial skills as well. These are abilities that can be used in a larger context than just in the industry. Mentioning in a cover letter or interview that you have skills in strategic or business development or project management can show potential managers strengths in learning quickly and meeting other business challenges.

At the same time, while qualifications are important, they don't necessarily outweigh general work experience. The news source mentions that Master's degrees are great for specialized roles but not necessary on a smaller scale. Many positions will weigh soft skills over industry knowledge for non-specialized roles. With this knowledge, being able to communicate well, take care of risks and solve problems can be a bright point in any resume.

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