How to Get Your Foot in the Door with Environmental Employers

Angie - Test Knowles, | April-06-12


How to Get Your Foot in the Door with Environmental Employers

Knowing where to look for the right employment opportunities is both an art and a science – those who can do this effectively have done their research and cultivated their technique. What is more, this situation is no different for environmental professionals. 

While the demand for environmental work is strong and projected to grow even further, job-seekers in these industries still need to use targeted strategies to find employment options that are the best possible fit with their experience, education and skills.  
This is especially true for recent graduates, transitioning workers, and newcomers to Canada who often face the additional challenge of trying to enter the environmental workforce with limited or no industry-specific experience.
So for those looking to find their dream environmental job, what is the best way to connect with employers?
The single best strategy is to think like the employer.
This approach involves taking the time to research how employers typically look for job candidates, and adapting how you look for work accordingly. 
In a major ECO Canada study, environmental employers provided valuable feedback on the recruitment strategies they used most often, as well as which particular methods they found to be the most effective.
The majority of the employers in the study used relational methods the most frequently, and as such, they relied on existing employee networks to find new, qualified job candidates. Accordingly, these employers consistently turned to internal recruitment and personal referrals. 
By contrast, environmental employers were less likely to use newspaper job postings or recruitment agencies. This point is particularly key for job seekers, since these two job search techniques are commonly used to look for work, but are not actually an effective means of connecting with environmental employers.
Ultimately, these findings all point to the tremendous value in building networks to get your foot in the door with environmental companies and find good employment opportunities. 

These 5 quick tips can help you make the most of the networking (and overall job search) process:

1. Do the groundwork to ensure that when you get in touch with industry contacts, you come across as professional and informed. This involves the whole “package” you present to others, from a polished résumé and cover letter, to an effective elevator speech where you can quickly summarize your professional accomplishments and career goals to an interested audience. 
2. Join organizations in your field of interest, such as professional groups and alumni associations, and actively participate in their activities.
3. Be open to new venues for networking, including LinkedIn and Twitter. Recent research by Taleo, a leading talent management solutions organization, found that 77% of job seekers and recruiters are turning to social networking technology for recruiting, making this an effective new option to connect with employment opportunities.
4. Give back. Whether it is as much as offering your time to support a professional association’s activities or as simple as posting links to relevant articles on a LinkedIn group, being seen as a contributor is vital to networking success.
5. Demonstrate strong business etiquette with all the contacts you interact with. Often networks are more interconnected than you would think and just as a first impression is lasting, so is a bad one. Common courtesy often requires something very simple, such as thanking a contact for meeting with you or following up in a timely manner. 

I’d be interested in learning about your own best strategies for finding employment opportunities with environmental companies.

What have you found has worked the most effectively? What are pitfalls that you would recommend avoiding?