Guest Author and Green Career Expert, Carol McClelland, PhD, offers six easy things you can do to prepare for your green career, and make yourself more attractive to potential green employers.
WAYS TO DEMONSTRATE YOUR COMMITMENT TO THE GREEN MOVEMENT: Although you might think employers are just interpreting your green activities as a sign of your values, it is really more than that. They are looking for signs that you've taken the initiative and will do what it takes to help the environment.
It's critical that you be able to hold your own in a conversation about green issues related to your target career. Reading is one of the best strategies you can integrate into your life. It's cheap, it's flexible, and it can be powerful. Don't limit yourself to pop green sources. Instead, reach for the green books, posts, magazines, and trade journals that are written by thoughtful, informed sources.
If reading books is not your thing, listen to the radio, browse blogs, and watch online videos. They key is to make sure your information comes from reputable sources. Not sure where to start? Pay attention to the buzz in your target industry. If your employers are reading something, you should be reading it too!
No matter how you are getting your knowledge, focus on two levels of content. In addition to studying within your target industry, be sure to read some sources that discuss the green economy as a whole.
Find a meaningful cause or effort. If possible, find a project that is related to your target interests. Don't limit yourself to established green non-profits. You may find opportunities at your children's school, your own church, or your workplace. The key is to get involved! Ultimately, you want to add this project to your resume or reference your experiences in your interviews as an example of your commitment.
Take actions to green your own life
Although there are likely to be some relatively simple changes you can make to your own carbon footprint, you may be able to get more bang for your buck with this one! If your target career has any application for households, begin to learn with first-hand experience. You might consider doing an energy efficiency audit and retrofit on your own home, installing your own solar system, planting an organic garden, or implementing a recycling strategy. Although any of these actions are likely to reduce your carbon footprint, you'll gain the biggest boost if your project parallels your own interests. Hands on experience will give you a unique perspective that most job applicants won't have.
Take classes/Earn a degree
Demonstrate your commitment to the green movement by adding to your green education. Before you skip to the next idea, did you know you can get access to a number of classes online? Yes, even green classes!
Be strategic. As you talk to people about your target career, learn the skills and knowledge you need to make it in your field. Then look at your options for learning that material. You may not need to return to school for a full degree. A one year certificate may be all you need. It's also possible that having just a few classes on your resume will differentiate you from your job seeking peers.
Another source for learning opportunities is your professional association. They may have telephone classes, webinars, or virtual conferences. Attending a professional conference is also a good strategy. Often they'll provide Continuing Education Units for attending sessions during the conference.
Although taking courses can't replace practical, real life experience, adding some coursework can set you apart from your peers.
If you want to add additional value to your efforts, take on leadership roles where possible. There are numerous initiatives in process and on the drawing board in many communities and companies. Step up when opportunities present themselves. If you don't see any opportunities, take the initiative to start a project for a non-profit, for your current company or for your community. If it's too much to take on a project by yourself, find a co-chair to work with you.
Think about your ultimate target green career. What skills would you like to enhance on your own resume? What interests do you want to demonstrate? Then look for a project that will help you strengthen your resume in these ways.
I realize all of this may feel like "just one more thing to do." What I can tell you is that as you dive in and become engaged you'll gain so much you'll begin to feel the pay off immediately. The benefits will continue throughout your job search and beyond.
Green Career Expert, Carol McClelland, PhD, is the author of Your Dream Career For Dummies and founder and executive director of Green Career Central, a virtual career center with a distilled and organized set of easy-to-use resources, programs, and events to help you identify your green niche, find a green job, start a green business or get a green education. Visit http://www.GreenCareerCentral.com to request our free report -- "Six Strategies to Find Your Green Career"