October 19, 2010

Breaking into Green, by Green Tech Recruiter Greg Schreiner

Breaking into Green

By Greg Schreiner, Green Tech Recruiter

“How Can I Get into a Green Career?”

The last couple of years have taken a toll on many families as jobless rates continue to climb with little insight to how the next year or two will play out.  As a recruiter in the alternative energy sector, I have been watching things improve since the beginning of the year.  Many companies continue to hire, and because of this growth I receive daily calls from interested candidates and the number one question is “How can I get into a green career?”

What Do You Want to Do?

Research states there are about 9 million green jobs currently available in renewable energy and energy efficiency, with many companies positioned very well to see continued growth.  Even though there has been a consistent increase in demand for green sector jobs, it is still a competitive job market. Companies that are hiring are looking for specific industry knowledge and experience whether it is wind, solar, biofuels, electric vehicle, battery, geothermal, or some other related industry. 

So the Question Remains: How Do I Get a Green Job?

The first thing I recommend to interested candidates is to truly do some soul searching about what type of career they want and in what industry they want to work in.  Then, go find people currently working in that space and talk with them.  Find out what type of experience they have and how they got their start in that career.  Ultimately take note on their roadmap to success and their advice on how to get there.

Once you target your next role, go out and find companies that are focused in that space.  What positions are they hiring for, what locations are they hiring in, and how is the future looking for these companies?  Compile data to help you determine the top 4-5 companies that interest you.  Start to connect with professionals in these companies via social media outlets or trade shows.  Utilizing specialized search firms like Redfish Technology is also a great way to get your name in front of these companies as well.

Get Off The Couch!

Now it is time to get involved in your chosen industry.  As I mentioned before, companies are looking for people with active experience in the industry.  Seek out volunteer work/programs in your area.  There are thousands and thousands of groups trying to make a social and economic push towards a greener community and many of them are very short handed, welcoming many professionals eager to lend a hand.

Here is a list of a few top nonprofit organizations that can help point you in the right direction:

Gaining Industry Expertise

Outside of volunteer work there are an abundance of opportunities to obtain industry specific certifications and training.  Many of these programs are very affordable and widely recognized by leading companies in the green space.  Continued training is a vital part of career progression anyway and if you are looking to make a change this is a great way to pad your resume and continue life-long learning.  Research is important here as well.  Look for compatible training/certification classes that match your desired experience and that also build upon your past success/experience.

Here is a list of highly recognized training/certification courses:

In addition to this small list, many local universities now offer renewable energy or green courses and or certification courses.  Also, in many cases there is federal and state money available for individuals going back to school for additional training in the green sector (www.studentaid.ed.gov). 

Passion Equals Success

If a Green Job is truly what you want and it is what you are passionate about you will be successful transitioning to your next career path.  If you are in it for the money, you may find glimpses of higher mediocrity but in the long run you will most likely fail.  If you are looking to make a change, make sure it is the right direction for you personally and take responsibility to make it happen. 

“Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.” — Bruce Barton  


About Greg:

Greg Schreiner has been recruiting in the Green sector since 2007. He is impassioned by the complexity and challenges of working in this dynamic industry with both hiring managers and candidates, matching world class companies and talent. You can read Greg’s profile on our website and connect with him on LinkedIn.


Related Article

Renewable Energy Education: Certification and Degrees
The global clean energy sector will top one trillion dollars by 2020, and according to the Council of Economic Advisers, green jobs pay a premium of 10 to 20% on average over other jobs. What certification or degree do you need to advance in the green career of your choice?


1 Comment »

  1. Hello, I must say, I don’t think breaking into this industry is ‘seamless’ as you outline. I and a number of colleagues with degrees in electrical engineering, systems engineering, mechanical engineering, atmospheric sciences, have been working re-inventing ourselves for these past several years still cannot obtain work the renewable energy (RE) industry. We have invoked exhausted measures in the list you presented here. We all have transferable skills e.g. data analysis, design, modelling, technical writing, web, etc. from other industries, as well as graduate credentials and renewable energy-related certifications or graduate degrees, still cannot break into this industry where we are commanding substantive, steady paying work.

    Some of us have even sought out the assistance of career counselors, and have even stumped them, because we do not fall into the nice, neat check boxes of having 3-5-10 years of experience in a specific RE technology. Nor are we business developers, sales people, project managers (with deep experience in REs) of the manufacturing ilk or entry-level technicians, which is where I think the bulk of RE jobs really are.

    In my case, I am a hybrid renewable energy engineer/systems engineer. And in this employers’ market, most if all employers seek deep and direct experience in a single, specific RE technology. So I ask you, how does one get one’s (dream) job in a burgeoning industry when one’s job description does not exist?

    It is also daunting and utterly bewildering when you sit in an office of a seasoned career counselor and they don’t know what to do, because you are anomalous and too far ahead of the curve for just about all employers. Yes, I have a number of start-up companies interested in my skills. The problem is, they are still awaiting their financing, because this illustrious stimulus package has not at all been what was touted for a great deal of folks, or, to date, delivered the goods.

    FYI: Here ares some creative and standard practices I have tried over these past 4-5 years to try to work in the RE industry: http://www.kimgerly.com/wpress/?cat=4

    I’d be interested in hearing your take on this.

    Comment by Kimberly K — November 3, 2010 @ 5:22 PM

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