Landed a Great Green Job? Here’s How to Keep It

Angie - Test Knowles, | April-20-12




How to Keep a New Environmental Job

For many professionals, finding a great employment opportunity is the most challenging (and stressful) part of their career development.  
With growing skill requirements for environmental work, and common career search obstacles like being a recent grad with limited professional experience, it’s easy to see why simply looking for work is a major focus for many.   
Yet all too often, job-seekers view an ideal work placement as a happily ever-after scenario, in which everything depends on simply landing that great new job and it is assumed that the rest will take care of itself.  
Like someone planning for a dream wedding with little thought of the long-term marriage afterwards, professionals who hold this mindset are likely to face serious disappointment once they’ve been hired. The chances are also high that such workers will find it difficult to hang onto their position during times of economic turmoil or move up when the opportunity presents itself.
Effective career planning does not end after your foot is in the door – in fact, this is where the true career building starts!  
For those of you who have just landed that great new opportunity in the environmental sector, these 5 tips will help you make the most of it:

1.) Find the Best – and Learn from Them

A mentor is absolutely invaluable for insider advice on the way your industry works and the techniques that will help you succeed. There are a number of great mentoring programs out there, including this one from ECO Canada specifically for environmental professionals. 
In addition to a more formal mentoring relationship, it also pays to consider informal “shadowing.” This latter option involves carefully observing a successful colleague in a role similar to your own, then modeling your own career development according to the specific strategies he or she uses.
During my first year in a professional job, my supervisor passed along this great advice, and it has truly come in handy.

2.) Commit to Being “Trainable”

The first time I saw “must be trainable” as a requirement in a job posting, I can remember being both surprised and confused. It seemed like such an odd request – who isn’t “trainable”? 
Unfortunately, being open to continual learning and graciously accepting constructive criticism are skills (as opposed to innate attributes) that not everyone has. Excelling in your new position involves checking your ego at the door. Adopt a positive, honest attitude towards making mistakes and commit to always learning from them. 
By demonstrating that you are open to ongoing improvement, you allow your supervisors and coworkers to support your professional growth. These experienced professionals will feel more comfortable passing along feedback that can ultimately help you do your job more effectively.

3.) Prepare for the Next Level

Developing the skills and knowledge you need to perform work in a more senior role is a great, insider tactic for career development. When the next opportunity for a promotion comes around, this planning ensures that you are well-equipped to handle an expanded role and represent a logical choice to your supervisors.

4.) Think Beyond the Status Quo

This is another forward-looking tip that pays big dividends in career growth. More often than not, the professionals who rise up fast through the ranks are not the ones who simply performed the existing requirements of their job really well. Instead, these career all-stars spotted an area of improvement in the company that others had missed, and made this their niche. 
Clearly, this tactic involves considerable research, including determining what the needs of your company are, how your own skill set can be applied, and what the general receptivity will be to your idea.   

5.) Practice the Same Manners that Got You in the Door in the First Place

Good business etiquette was a key point in the post, How to Get Your Foot in the Door with Environmental Employers, and it is no less important here. Contrary to the traditional depiction of an aggressive “Type A” person who easily gets ahead, many of today’s successful professionals are genuinely considerate individuals who are pleasant to work with. Their approach is not just a reflection of their personalities.
With the growing importance of collaboration in many work settings, practicing strong business etiquette is an effective career strategy that will help you maintain the work relationships required to accomplish team projects. 
Seemingly small gestures, such as responding promptly, thanking others for their contribution or commending someone on a job well-done, add up to a powerful impact on the way your colleagues perceive working with you. 
This list of quick tips is a starting point on the career building strategies that can help you get ahead.

What are some additional pointers that you would pass along to new professionals trying to make the most of their new dream green job?