A natural extension of pursuing a green life at home for many is to seek employment more in line with their environmental views.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work in green-type jobs for nearly a decade now and fell into a green-oriented career by accident – if there’s any such thing.
What is a green job anyway?
Green collar employment often stirs up visions of solar panels and wind turbines. While it’s very true that green careers are heavily based on sustainability concepts and often around cutting edge, high tech equipment, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are about these themes all the time. It’s just a matter of perception.
For example, it could be said that any employment that involves telecommuting is a green job as commuting to and from work daily involves a substantial environmental impact (unless you ride a bicycle or walk of course). Working in a recycling center on a sorting line is a very green job to my way of thinking – and by the way, cheers to all those folks engaged in that sort of work – you are environmental heroes!
Making your own job a green one
Something to consider if you’re loathe to change jobs is to help the company you work with “go green”. Many companies are switching on to the concept of green business being good business and the triple bottom line, but they just need some help to find their way. By identifying issues within the company you work for and presenting solutions, you never know – you may wind up becoming that company’s first Environmental Officer!
A word of advice – do this initial footwork on your own time, not the company’s – just in case. Some employers may not take too kindly to you performing unauthorised tasks on the company’s dime. Also be careful in how you present the information. Approach it from an “I’d like to suggest” style rather than “thou shalt”. Very important, don’t just focus on the warm and fuzzy tree-hugger aspects, but also bottom line stuff – how going green could save the company money.
Gaining green employment is often a journey
As mentioned, I found my green career path somewhat by accident. I have no formal qualifications in areas related to topics such as renewable energy and I certainly don’t have what’s commonly known as a “Green MBA“. Heck, I didn’t even finish high school and the first 10 years of my post-school life was a haze consisting mainly of getting into trouble, doing jobs here and there and certainly nothing glamorous.
My background since the mid 90’s was computers (pretty much self taught), then moving on to online marketing and web site content development (also self taught). In 2001, I began working for an online service with an owner who was environmentally conscious. We simply started weaving some of those leanings into day-to-day business and in the process I was starting to establish a little green street-cred.
Around 4 years later, I started Green Living Tips as the green bug had really bit me in a big way. I was horrified by what I was learning about our modern lifestyles and fascinated with solutions. I also started a project to clean up and monitor local bushland.
Shortly afterwards, consultancy jobs relating to various green businesses started being offered to me – and it wasn’t just my “green” activities business owners were interested in; it was also my previous history related to the online world. The fact I understood green living concepts was a bonus as they knew I would go about activities a little differently to traditional approaches.
Aside from Green Living Tips and a few other online projects, I now currently consult for a renewable energy company on a pretty much full time basis, from home.
While I’m not saying you should start up a Green Living Tips type site as a magic bullet solution if you don’t have relevant qualifications; if you run a blog or web site like so many people do these days, don’t let your green candle be hidden under a bushel – strut your stuff, demonstrate your knowledge, express your passion. If you don’t have a site or blog, consider getting involved in community environmental projects. Aside from the good you’ll do, it may also help you make connections.
Doing these things may not see employers beating a path to your door, but you’ll have something to show them when you beat a path to theirs that demonstrates your interest isn’t just a passing fad.
Think also about your current skill set and how that could be useful to a green business or sector. Weave the transferability of your skills into your CV and application letters.
Green careers resource sites
Bear in mind that while green business currently gets a lot of attention from the media and green jobs are heralded as The Next Big Thing, the green employment revolution is just beginning.
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Green jobs can be hard to define and locate, but there are a few online destinations that have green career resources and/or job sections, including:
There is also a good list of other green career resources on GreenCollarBlog
Thinking outside the box
While researching these resources, I was amazed to see all the various new types of jobs being created – while many of them may seem to require some sort of formal qualification, don’t let that scare you off from pursuing your dream green career. Dig into the positions descriptions; you may already have the skills needed for a position that has a very fancy or new title you haven’t heard of before.
If there is a particular sector you are interested in, research relevant organizations and businesses online – get a feel for their approach, the way they present themselves, their products and industry issues and then shoot them off a well considered cover letter and CV, remembering to relate your current skills to their sector.
Cold calling for jobs has never been easier thanks to the Internet and you never know what you may turn up!
Mention in your cover letter that if the company doesn’t have any suitable positions available, any advice they could provide for finding work in your chosen sector would be greatly appreciated.
You could also consider search for green versions of your current employment. Let’s say you work in a tire factory – there are green tire manufacturers already up and running who may value your skills. The same goes for just about any other product too.
When it comes to green employment, think outside the box a little. Look for opportunities in unusual sectors you may not have considered previously, be open to possibilities even if just a stepping stone, retrain if necessary through part time courses, some of which you can do online, such as a Green MBA. Make your own “luck”!
And speaking of which, good luck in your green job hunt!