How to Find Your Dream Green Job

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Are you looking to get in on the growing green economy? Earth911 rounded up the top green job search tips from Leonard Adler, founder and CEO of the Green Jobs Network, during his workshop at last month’s Green Festival in San Francisco.

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1.  Start with the job boards

Job boards are the easy pickings, Adler says, but they’re still the best place to start.

Look for job boards that focus on environmental or social responsibility such as EcoEmploy and Adler’s own GreenJobSearch.org. Idealist and Opportunity Knocks, which both list nonprofit jobs, are other good sites to browse, as is Green Job Spider, a specialized search engine still in its beta stages that Adler’s company recently acquired.

Do you have a technical skill, or are you interested in a particular sector like wind energy? Then search for industry-specific job boards like WindJobs.org or the American Wind Energy Association’s Careers in Wind job board.

Many general eco-minded websites also maintain job boards where employers can post green jobs, Adler says, such as Treehugger or UC Davis’ John Muir Institute of the Environment.

Adler keeps up a list of these green jobs boards on his blog, Green Collar Blog.

You can also join email lists that distribute job postings in the sustainability field including EnviJobs, Green Job List and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

While the number of websites dedicated to environmental careers is on the rise, Adler advises that job hunters don’t overlook conventional job websites for eco-minded positions: CareerOneStop, CareerBuilder, Craigslist, Indeed and Monster.

2.  Don’t wait for employers to come to you

Companies looking for fresh talent may not always publicize their job openings on traditional job boards – often because they don’t have a dedicated human resources department or they don’t want to sift through hundreds of resumes, Adler says.

That’s why Adler recommends you search directly for the employers and then see if they’re hiring; this will give you access to what he calls “the hidden green job market.”

SEE: INFOGRAPHIC: Where to Get a Green Job

Make a list of green businesses you’d potentially want to work for – your “lead list,” to borrow sales terminology. Then check the websites of the companies on your list to see if they have open positions they haven’t been advertising elsewhere.

Where will you find potential employers? Study the membership lists of relevant industry associations; you’ll find local solar companies when you peruse the list of the American Solar Energy Society’s members, for example.

Check out industry publications and websites like Solar Today which might not only list jobs, but will also contain news stories that hint at future employment opportunities: companies receiving grants or opening a new plant.

If you’re interested in working for the government, Adler says it’s best to check the agency’s website directly, as many government agencies don’t have the staff or budget to recruit externally.

Also, browse Green America’s national Green Pages for listings of eco-minded companies, or look for local directories of green businesses.

Finally, even if you can’t make it to industry conferences in person, you can review the lists of exhibitors and presenters online to contribute to your lead list.

3.  Network

“Build your network, and you build your luck in finding a green job,” Adler says.

The more people who know you’re searching for a specific type of position, the more likely you’ll find out about job opportunities you might have otherwise missed.

To start growing your network of sustainability professionals, Adler recommends both offline and online networking.

Check out a local mixer for individuals working in the environmental field, like Green Drinks or EcoTuesday – two events that are held in multiple cities across the U.S. If there is no such networking event in your city, think about starting your own.

Attending conferences and trade shows is another way to meet folks in the green sector. Adler uses the Green Festival as an example: If you had applied to a job at Clif Bar and then planned on attending the Green Festival, a quick glance at the exhibitor list would reveal that Clif Bar is one of the event’s major sponsors.

“Make sure to visit their booth and network – don’t just stop by for the free samples,” Adler jokes. “It’s always better to make personal contact than to just send in your résumé alone.”

Online networking through LinkedIn can also help you connect with potential employers.

“Use LinkedIn to uncover the real person behind the jobs and find connections,” Adler says. “Can you get an introduction [through a mutual friend]? Did you go to the same school?”

You can also join affinity groups on LinkedIn to network with individuals who have the same interests or went to the same school. Because posting jobs to LinkedIn groups is free for employers and targets a select group of individuals, you’ll often find exclusive job listings when you become a member of a LinkedIn group.

4.  Seek out recruiters

Calls from recruiters can be a nuisance when you’re happy with your current job.  But if you’re searching for your dream green job, consider enlisting the help of the growing number of recruiters that focus on sustainability careers, like Commongood Careers or Redfish Technology.

Adler calls recruiting firms “the gatekeepers of jobs” and recommends you browse the job postings on their websites. Adler maintains a list of green recruiting firms on his Green Collar blog.

5.  Follow the money, follow the startups

Where will future jobs in the green economy be? Adler gives two tips for identifying job opportunities that may become available in the future.

First, find out where money – both private and public – is currently being invested. Companies that are receiving investments from venture capital firms, private equity firms, corporations or the government may eventually be expanding and hiring. Check out websites like The Cleantech Group, Earth2Tech, GreenBeat, Greentech Media and Green VC to monitor private and public funding in the green sector.

READ: Energy Efficiency Financing Could Create New Jobs

In addition to “following the money,” Adler suggests tracking startups as the other way to find future job openings.

“Startups may not be hiring at the beginning, but keep an eye on them – they may be hiring down the road,” Adler says.

To learn about new business ventures, Alder recommends researching entrants into green business plan competitions – including the Clean Tech Open and Global Social Venture Competition – as well as green and social entrepreneurship awards and fellowships – such as Echoing Green and the Skoll Award for Social Entreprenuership.

READ: Increased Recycling Could Create 1.5M Jobs

6.  Pursue your passion

How can you make yourself stand out in this competitive job market?

“When you pursue your passion, it shows,” Adler says.

In fact, he attributes following his own passion for sustainability as the catalyst for his career change. Three years ago, he was working at FindLaw; now he runs a green jobs board, coordinates a green jobs fair and manages the largest green jobs group on LinkedIn.

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