Green Job Seekers Need to be Savvy About Soft Skills

jennifer Bjorkman | January-31-11

Guest Post by Brooke Cromar,

Getting a green job can be tough. One way to impress potential employers? Have more than technical expertise on your CV - have transferable skills.
According to ECO Canada’s 2010 Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment, the demand for green professionals is on the rise. Despite being a relatively new field, a wide range of sectors are seeking employees that bring environmental expertise "in-house."


Green Professionals Sought Beyond Traditional Environmental Sector

Public relations and marketing firms, financial and corporate sectors, as well as government agencies are seeking environmental professionals in ever-increasing numbers. The positions they are offering demand that the applicants have more than the requisite "hard" skills such as a university degree or technical know-how. They are looking for individuals who possess "soft" or transferable skills. These skills, often more difficult to quantify, are personal qualities and traits needed to succeed.

Despite the downturn economy, and the increased candidate pool, employers are having difficulty filling the growing number of open positions. The 2010 ECO Canada report has found that this is due, in part, to the fact that candidates do not have the right mix of skills needed to succeed at the jobs advertised. While candidates are often able to fulfill the technical training requirements, they are still lacking the soft skills that will make them successful beyond the traditional environmental sector.


The C’s of Soft Skills
With a range of industries opening their doors to environmental professionals, the need for soft skills is greater than ever. Here are 5 skills that all candidates should be able to demonstrate to potential employers through their resumes, cover letters, and in interviews.

Communication: Of the industries polled by ECO Canada, 53% look for applicants to have above average communication skills. The ability to absorb information and respond coherently and cohesively is a key trait to sell when applying for jobs. Individuals who speak and write clearly and effectively, and who can acquire and retain information acquired by listening or reading should clearly indicate they possess these qualities when applying for jobs.

Critical thinking: Analytical thinking and problem solving are highly sought-after skills in today’s job market. Due to the dynamic nature of the work place today, individuals are needed who can take responsibility for multiple projects, lead and use their judgment to prioritize, and make and communication decisions effectively.

Collaboration: Being able to relate to and work well with others are skills that cannot be understated. As an environmental professional, it is crucial to be able to build relationships and resolve conflicts. The ability to work in a team, whether as its leader or a member, can be the difference between completing a project poorly or efficiently.

Creativity: Employees need to show they can apply knowledge in new and innovative ways. Before sending in a job application, be sure to research the organization first. Employers want to know that an applicant is going to bring novel ideas to the organization.

Client Oriented: Being able to identify and meet the needs of the client is skill that can be met only when the above four skills are functional. Attending to the client – whether they be a customer, colleague, or stakeholder – is arguably a skill that can be learned. However, being able to demonstrate a history of success at meeting expectations goes a long way in the hiring process.

Originally posted on December 4, 2010 on