(Environmental Jobs Network promotion)

Work II: Search and Preparation

Section
4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment
Page
4.3

Getting started in any endeavour is always the hardest part and environmental work is no exception. There are relatively few jobs of this nature and the paths to them can be diffuse and unclear. If you are lucky enough to attend a university or tertiary institute of some kind (and as webpage 4.2 identified, >90% of entrants to ‘green’ jobs come from this background) you will be looking for a ‘bridge’ to environmental work, a network and skills to get going in the field. As an example, the Green Steps program at Monash University in Melbourne set about doing just this. A brief video outlines the program here: Ten Minute Presentation-Green Steps on Vimeo and, hopefully, you will have access to something of this nature in your home town, or can help set-up something similar, formally or informally. More specifically, Green Steps provides training and experience in: organisational sustainability, environmental auditing, data collection, staff engagement, behaviour change, environmental strategy, sustainability reporting, organisational change, environmental education, staff training, training design and delivery, and facilitation. You will notice the strong emphasis on understanding institutions and behaviour change, as well as easily applicable practical projects like auditing, as these are transportable to virtually any entity. The behavioural emphasis recognises that environmental work is often marginalised and even resisted, and to survive and prosper requires insight, skill and persistence. On the plus side, and most importantly, it is meaningful and fulfilling work.

When surveying the breadth of the field, or when specifically looking for vacancies, there are now various job-search websites that are either specifically devoted to ‘green/environmental/sustainability’ jobs, or have similar sections within traditional job-search sites. For example, in my country, some that offer this service are:

Environmental Jobs In All Australia | Environmental Jobs Network

 

As indicated in 4.2, this is much more than a mere noticeboard of jobs; it is a mine of useful information for those in the field and those who want to enter the field.

 

The EJN says that their key activities are:

“Environmental employment opportunities for professionals, graduates and volunteers; listing nrm (natural resource management) jobs, green jobs, water jobs, conservation jobs, wildlife jobs, sustainability jobs and enviro jobs throughout Australia; and listing international jobs for those interested in a green career outside the jobs in Australia that we advertise.”

 

They provide key tips for obtaining an environmental job, making a career change into an environmental job, and environmental job-search tips. Here they are:

 

Obtaining an environmental job

  • Build your knowledge of your industry of interest – Attend relevant events and lectures, and take the opportunity to network.
  • Further build your knowledge of your industry of interest – Read relevant publications and talk to someone who has the job you’d like to have.
  • Add to your CV – Volunteering, graduate programs, cadetships, mentorships and extra education courses.
  • Create networks – Get to know and to be known within your industry of interest and get your foot in the door of unadvertised positions.  Do this by actively pursuing tips 1, 2 and 3.
  • Be specific about the volunteering you do – Take on roles that would be suitable in the career you want, give you on-the-job experience and something specific to add to your CV.
  • Only apply for jobs you really want – But keep in mind positions which might be able to build skills you need.
  • Put in the effort – Individually write and tailor your resume, key selection criteria and cover letter for each job you apply for.
  • In the interview – Know about the job position and the employer.
  • Put your strengths, interests and passions forward – When interviewing, volunteering and at all networking opportunities, be enthusiastic and show your passion!
  • Be clear about career goals / career of choice – Really think about what it is you are looking for in a career / industry and then follow steps 1 to 9 to get there.

Making an environmental career change

  • Create networks – Get to know and to be known within your industry of interest, and get your foot in the door of unadvertised positions and opportunities.
  • Get experience through volunteering – Get experience at the same time as building networks, getting more information about the industry, adding something specific to your CV, and finding out more about the opportunities available to you.
  • Decide what you are really passionate about – Having a good idea of what motivates you and where your heart is will help define where you want your career to go.
  • Evaluate and define your values and life purpose – Thinking systematically about your values and purpose will facilitate a career change and help give you direction.
  • Do your homework – Take the time to learn more about the industry, potential employers and what opportunities are out there.
  • Take the next step and ask for details – Whether it is speaking with a career counsellor, a recruitment agency, potential employers or people in the role that you want, make sure you do some research and speak to people with knowledge.
  • Retraining – Do you have to? And will your employer support this? Not all environmental positions will require going back to school. Make sure you know whether it will be worthwhile for you. Be sure to also check with your employer to see whether they will pay for further training and education.
  • Ask yourself, “Do I need an environmental job?” – A full career change may not be for you. Asking the hard questions can help you determine whether you really want to change careers or whether making your current career or lifestyle environmental would satisfy your passion.
  • Be realistic about the steps you need to take – Changing careers is rarely easy. To do this successfully, it will take a lot of time and energy and you need to be prepared for a bumpy start.
  • Stop working! – Take a break from work and reflect. Sometimes a bit of distance can clear your mind and help you figure out what you want from life.

Environmental job-search tips

  • Take due diligence – Research the role and the organisation you are interested in working for. Include internet research as well as calling and interviewing staff employed there. Don’t simply contact the Human Resources (HR) department, find and contact your potential manager or people doing the role you are interested in.
  • Be proactive – Don’t wait for your dream job to come to you, do your research and then approach potential employers and pitch your ideas to show your passion. Offer to do a work placement of 1-2 days per week or volunteer casually.
(Environmental Jobs Network promotion)
  • Network – A high percentage of roles are not advertised. Attend workshops, forums, expos and events in which you are interested, and approach CEOs, presidents, managers, MCs, speakers and people in your desired field. Discuss the event/their business/your interests and develop relationships.
  • Take care with CV applications – Spend some serious time and energy on your application materials. This is key to getting the attention of an employer or recruiter, and convincing them that you are worth meeting. Always attach a cover letter, use formal language and pay attention to spelling and grammar. Have someone check it before you submit it. If you are worried about your resume you may benefit from our‘Winning Resume Overnight’ Program.
  • Follow up applications – Follow up by phone/email within a week if you have not received confirmation of receipt, but do not stalk people. Think about the best time to call – if you call early or late in the day you can catch them before/after meetings. Remember – there is a fine line between following up and stalking!
  • Prepare for interviews – Prepare as above and conduct a practice interview with a friend if possible. Always be professional, including interviews with recruitment agencies. Address the key selection criteria and prepare answers to questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Making or referring to notes reflects well on you, and shows that you’re prepared and mean business. If unsuccessful, get feedback and ask if you can follow up in future regarding other positions that may arise.
  • Know yourself – Explore the roles you want to do and roles that will lead towards it. If you are unsure of what you want to do first explore your passions, such as climate change or indigenous issues. Next examine the type of role you would like to work in, for example: creative, organisational, administrative, etc. Do your research and talk to people in order to gain a clearer idea of your options.
  • Use various resources – Such as LinkedIn and signing up for environmental jobs alerts. You can also read books like ‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’ By Richard Nelson Bolles, or ‘The Secrets To Getting A Job’ by Philip Garside.
  • Volunteer – This is an invaluable way to gain experience within the sector, get a foot in the door, develop networks and above all, it is an opportunity for you to discover what the job, organisation, sector, management and culture are like first hand!

To add to this most comprehensive service, EJN has notes on environmental recruitment agencies, volunteer organisations and opportunities, education and training courses, publications, apprenticeships, and more.

 

 

As their header informs us, this site is primarily for charities, not-for-profits, and governments, and is a useful first filter for those not wanting to work for ‘unethical’ entities. It has a dedicated ‘environment and sustainability’ section.

 

Large, general job-search businesses, often have search categories for environmental jobs and Seek is a good example in Australia and New Zealand. These businesses usually cast the

net wide and are especially good for picking up opportunities in general businesses and the corporate sector that may not crop up on more specialised ‘green’ sites. They also include career advice and reviews of prospective employers.

I hope there are similar sites and opportunities in your country.

Notwithstanding the very useful service and resources provided by these sorts of sites, it is well known that many job leads and vacancies do not occur through official channels and advertisements, so the advice about establishing your own contacts and networks listed at the start of the webpage makes this particularly important.

Explore Other Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment

4.1 Introduction

I am often surprised when meeting and talking to people that they will say, “I like/love/enjoy” the environment, but then, in the next sentence, tell you about their work, or recreation that damages the environment, and their voting behaviour that...

4.2 Work I: Background

It is not a good idea to commence a webpage by ‘running up the white flag’, but it has to be admitted that it is almost impossible closely to define ‘environmental jobs’! This difficulty was brought home to me most pressingly while managing the Gr...

4.3 Work II: Search and Preparation

Getting started in any endeavour is always the hardest part and environmental work is no exception. There are relatively few jobs of this nature and the paths to them can be diffuse and unclear. If you are lucky enough to attend a university or te...

4.4 Volunteer

Alongside working for the environment, there are few greater ways one can contribute than volunteering for the environment. One of the largest environmental volunteering projects I know of is The Atlas of Australian Birds. It was started in the...

4.5 Change Resistance, Jack Harich, 2010

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4.7 Act: Informal Processes

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4.8 Action Through the Lens of Power

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1/11

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