August 7, 2017
by Peter DietrichOn Tuesday, August 1st, GreenHomeNYC released the Guide to Starting a Green Career in New York City, written by Sam Yost, and hosted a release event at NYSERDA with career development professionals (and guide contributors) John Crant and Celia Currin. The guide, long in the making, is the result of an agglomeration of experiences and tips from GreenHomeNYC members and staff. We all know that job hunting is rarely fun, so this guide should help take some of the pain out of the process. It features advice for the gamut of the job search, including interviews, resumes, cover letters, networking, finding a mentor and more. Some tips that apply especially to the green job space are that you should get relevant certifications or accreditations, you should join local green groups (oh hey, you’re already reading this at the GHNYC site) and you should volunteer with groups doing what you want to do. You can download it free from the GHNYC website.
To celebrate the launch of the guide, John and Celia came out to tell attendees their top three tips for a successful green job search. The speakers and Sam then answered some audience questions.
John Crant, author, career coach and speaker with a past in head hunting, focused on how to best present yourself to potential and hopeful employers.
- You need to brand yourself. You must learn how to present yourself in a way that convinces others of your value. This is often first done with your resume and LinkedIn profile, which serve different purposes and should be put together differently. The resume should be one page, punchy and formatted to quickly catch the reader’s interest; they are usually skimmed and seen in large batches, so you need to stand out immediately. The LinkedIn profile, on the other hand, is much bigger and a place where you can write at length about what makes you special.
- Figure out whom you want to work for and why. The way you present yourself should be based on your target, with your cover letter and interview talking points customized based on the company or person’s core tenets or interests. Research companies beforehand so that you know how to show them how you fit the criteria that are most important to them.
- You have to learn how to talk yourself up and feel natural and look comfortable while doing so. While modesty may be a virtue and nice to have at other times, it’s not much of an asset when trying to get a job. You should own yourself, your career accomplishments, your skills, etc.
Celia Curran, executive career coach with a background in financial writing and management at Forbes Magazine and Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, talked about how to interview and why you want to network.
- First Celia gave formal interview tips, noting the “power of three” rule. When asked about yourself, have three main qualities ready. Fewer will make you look unprepared and more will drag on, so be sure to pick the three things most relevant to the job in question. You should also try not to talk too much. Most people like to hear themselves talk, so let the interviewer do that. Celia says to aim for a one-to-two ratio of you talking to them talking. This also lets you hear more about the position and the interviewer so that you can better position yourself for the job.
- Both you and the interviewer want to answer three main questions: Can you do the job? Will you love the job? Do I want to work with you?
- She also noted how important networking is, citing that 60% of jobs are found via networking. You should talk to people around you. Maybe people will know people that you wouldn’t expect. You also need to put yourself out there, and let people know that you’re looking and what for. Random clubs where you aren’t aiming for a job are also important. Join an interest group and be active. In order to get the best network out of clubs, you should try to get on certain committees. Get on membership committee and meet and learn about new people while being one of the fist people they meet. Be on programming committee so that you have an excuse to ask people to do events. This lets you meet people you want to meet.
- Bonus tip: Keep track of your job hunting stats. This lets you know what works and doesn’t work, and it also lets you set goals and benchmarks to meet.
Sam Yost rounded the group out with some general advice.
- Be authentic and friendly in both your cover letter and your in person meetings or phone calls. You need to connect with people if you want them to hire or recommend you. Be relateable and don’t try too hard to look like professional robot full of buzzwords.
- Be visual. Your resume needs to make a quick impression. The same for LinkedIn page.
- Be good at what you do. Continue to develop skills even when you are not working.
The event ended with a quick Q/A session where panelists remarked on, among others, a question about informational interviews. The number one thing to remember is: Don’t ask for a job. Instead, sell yourself as someone they might want to connect with. You can also use the interviewee for alternate views on your resume and to learn industry lingo. Make sure to look excited and friendly and always quickly send follow up that is personalized. And don’t worry about having to try a few times to get in. They might be busy and not just ignoring you. You can send repeated requests, but be different each time and don’t be annoying. You could also try something crazy like a phone call or even paper mail. As noted earlier, most people like to talk about themselves and they can feel honored to be asked for an interview.