The “How To Prepare For An Interview” series is supported by Gillette.Thinking about going green? Here’s how to go green and make green, too — as long as you ace the job interview.
With diminished natural resources, climate change,
Photo: zzzack via Flickr
and a need for jobs, several industries are moving into “clean tech” to reduce fossil fuel usage, increase energy efficiency, curtail greenhouse gases, and clean the environment.
The US Department of labour announced $55 million in green job grants, authorised by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Green industries are very diverse, and some of the main sub industries are solar power, wind power, hydro power, geothermal, and biomass technologies. Each area need new facilities, operation, and maintenance, and personnel to enforce L.E.E.D. standards. So even if you’re not a techie, you probably find a green job in your area of expertise.
Some companies (like CleanTechies) offer general packages to prepare your cover letter, resume, and interview for around $200 — but here are some tips to get you started.
There are always opportunities for engineers in green industries, but you can find opportunities in almost every sector -- writing, entrepreneurship, advertising, sales, etc.
If you're a journalist, you can work for green channels of leading media sources, or work internally in a PR department. There are several PR agencies focused on clean tech, and some companies even hire PR people to highlight their company's green achievements. There's plenty of room to start businesses in green industries since they're new, so don't be discouraged if you're not a science geek.
Clean or green tech is a cluster of industries, not one specific industry. So before you go to a job interview for a green job, you need to 'really know what kind of job you're interested in,' CleanTechies CEO Ceylan Thomson says -- because some interviewees show up without a particular interest and seem unprepared.
Within green industries, solar technologies are most popular, Thomson says. But there are several jobs in the products industries, web hosting, and making non-green companies greener. So pick a focus and mention it to your interviewer.
Since green industries are fairly new, it's very important to do your research. Find out which the biggest companies are within your sector, what the new ideas or issues are, and what differentiates the top companies from their competitors, says EcoBold founder Steffany Boldrini.
You should also know who the most influential, knowledgable reporters are within your sector.
Make sure to rework your cover letter and resume to emphasise your green endeavours. If you installed a compost site for your previous company, write that. Make sure your cover letter is personal and explains why you want to work in the industry -- and what specifics you can bring to the company.
Some employers -- especially green ones -- only ask for e-mail copies to save paper, so make sure your email copy is legible. Sometimes it needs to be in plain fonts without layouts, etc. But if you're printing a resume, you might add an eco-friendly touch by printing it out on recycled paper.
Interviewers will probably ask you why you want to work in the industry, and you need to have a good answer.
Bad answer: 'I want to work in clean tech because I think it's exciting.'
You need a second sentence after that, Thomson explains. For example, if you're applying to work in solar technology, you might say 'I want to work in clean tech because I think it's exciting -- in particular, the solar industry because it's the most interesting renewable source of energy' or 'I'm really interested in green building.'
In order to compete with hundreds of other candidates, you really need to have a message about why you're there, Thomson says.
Especially in an emerging industry, it's important to keep current.
Reading blogs is a great way for job seekers to see what's going on in each of the sub-industries of green tech, Thomson says. Pay particular attention to venture capitalists with a green focus and rising entrepreneurs.
The New York Times has a green blog you can start with.
Go to green networking events in your area (like Green Drinks) and mention them during your interview. If you don't have any such groups in your area, show some initiative and start one -- you can use sites like Meet Up to organise events. Employers are likely to hire a candidate who is 'out there doing their homework and is passionate about the industry,' Boldini says.
It's important to show potential employers that you're 'doing the research and out there meeting and talking to people, as relationships are important,' Boldrini explains.
Learn the buzzwords --like ecoflation (the increasing cost of business in a changing climate), green audit (a scorecard for a company's environmental consciousness) and greenwashing (claiming to be more environmentally conscious than you are), for example.
The best way to learn the most current terms and ideas is to read blogs, publications, and talk to other people in the industry to absorb some of their ideas and language.
However, don't use green buzzwords excessively during your interview. It's important to know what you're talking about, and the interviewer will be able to tell if you're throwing around jargon without knowing what it means.
'Don't try to fill in with words' what you don't know about the industry, Boldrino says.
Your interviewer might ask you what you'd do in a hypothetical situation, so come up with some sample solutions to problems, career advisor Allison Nawoj of CareerBuilders says.
For example, if you're applying to a PR job, think about how you'd deal with the BP oil spill. If you're in solar technology, think about new applications for the technology. Even if your interviewer doesn't ask you, it's good to come up with your own ideas.
It could help your cause if you make changes in your personal life (reduce your energy and water usage, compost, etc.) and mention it to your interviewer if the topic arises.
But if you're not green, be honest. One of Boldrini's best interviewees hadn't made all the green lifestyle changes.
'They said, 'I'm not a green person, but I'm here to learn,' which was upfront and honest,' she says.
And though it couldn't hurt to print your resume on recycled paper or make it a point to tell your employer about your compost heap, Boldrini says it doesn't make much of a difference because the interviewee can never be sure you didn't just do it for the interview.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.