Far too many people jump straight into a job search and start applying for jobs without fully thinking about what exactly it is that they are looking for. Depending on where you are in your life, career, relationships and financial needs, each time you start a job search, the situation will be slightly different. By thinking through your current situation, your limits, your aspirations and your priorities, the job search becomes clearer and you can realistically begin to tackle your next move.
The sustainability field is still growing and developing, so there is an unlimited number of opportunities to integrate sustainability into your position, however, you need to narrow down what it is that you want to do and where you want to do it. Start by clearly defining what your needs are. If you are just getting started these will be very different than if you are more established in your career. But it is important that you think deeply about these questions and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself questions about every aspect of what makes you an individual. Key sections to focus on are life, location, personal and work questions. Below you will find a summary of each focus area.
Has something changed in your life that has you considering a career in or transition to sustainability? In other words, what drives you to make this choice and what are the things you need most from this new career? Additionally, take stock of your current personal situation. Do you have plans in the near future that will affect your decision-making process? Do you have a salary requirement?
Location is intertwined with all other aspects of life; it affects personal relationships, quality of living, hobbies available and many more. When considering a career or career transition ask yourself where you want to live and work and how that location can align with your goals. Do you want to stay local? Are you open to relocating? What type of impact companies are near you? Would you rather be in a location where people strive to live sustainably day-in and day-out, or would you prefer to spark the light in a location that is traditionally less driven by doing social and environmental good?
The only person who is an expert on yourself is you. Take time to narrow down your strengths, areas for improvement, and values. As Steve Jobs once said “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” How do your skills fit into the sustainability field? What skill gaps do you have that would make you more hirable? How could you develop those skills?
When thinking about work questions, strive to figure out exactly what type of work you want to do and how you will be able to make a difference doing this work. It is also important to identify what you are unwilling to do and the work atmosphere that is important to you. Are you set on finding the exact job title that aligns with your passions, skills and expertise no matter what company it is? Are you more driven by finding the right company culture that aligns with your values, like a B Corporation, knowing that your position and skillset may change?
Your unique mix of strengths are what differentiate you as a candidate for any job. Take the time to introspectively survey your wants, beliefs and actions to understand how you can best make a difference, affect change and land your dream job. Once you have found the answers to the questions presented in the sections above, create a unique elevator pitch to answer why you are the ideal candidate for the job.
Use your goals and skills to target your job search. Many people start out by simply Googling job sites and applying to positions that pop up, this approach often does not work. They send their resume into cyberspace and hope that something sticks. Instead, take the time to target your job search, be intentional in building your network and tailor your message to each company. The best way to do this is to consider all possibilities then start closing some doors to narrow your search.
Set up a schedule for you job search, the reality is you will not be able to spend all day every day searching for a job. This may work for the first few days, but soon you will find yourself discouraged and getting distracted, doing other things. Get specific, develop a plan, write it down and be disciplined enough to follow it.
Interested in learning more about the process of landing your dream green job? Check out our new book “Sustainability Jobs: The Complete Guide to Landing Your Dream Green Job.”