You’ve just graduated university (or are at least getting close), and you’re eager to jump into a new career in the environmental sector. But what’s next? Even with approximately 44% of environmental employers planning to hire in 2012 and 14% or the environmental workforce planning to retire within the next decade, new grads may still find it challenging to get their foot in the door.
To help make the transition as smooth as possible, we’ve compiled our top 5 tips for getting your first job in the environmental sector:
1) Create Your Environmental Network
According to ECO Canada’s 2010 Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment, environmental employers are most likely to use existing relationships with workers and social networks when looking to recruit new staff. The most popular amongst these methods include internal recruitment, used by 44% of employers, and referrals/personal contacts, used by 65%. It’s clear that building your personal network of environmental professionals is becoming increasingly important, but how do you begin?
Networking provides an excellent opportunity for you to make your face known in the environmental industry. Environmental conferences happen year-round throughout the country, and are a great place to meet professionals with similar interests while increasing your knowledge of the sector. ECO Canada also offers a number of public networking events and workshops for environmental professionals. Keep an eye on upcoming events by visiting our industry events calendar.
Environmental associations can provide you with a valuable forum for discussion, and allow you to meet and build relationships with individuals in the industry. Some associations even offer discounted membership prices to post-secondary students. To find a Canadian association in your field of interest, take a look here.
2) Build Experience
Some of the top recruiting methods listed in the Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment are internships and co-op work terms. Not only do these programs allow you to build your experience and test the water in a variety of different industry fields, they also allow employers to see what type of employee you are without making a long-term commitment. While you gain valuable experience, you can also build relationships with industry professionals and increase your chance of obtaining a more long-term position afterwards.
ECO Canada's Internship Program connects recent grads with environmental employers by providing annual wage-subsidies of up to $12,000. Not only does the program increase a graduate's chances of being found by employers, it also encourages environmental companies to hire new interns by helping to cover their hiring costs. Follow ECO Canada on Twitter or Facebook to receive updates on the prorgam, or click here to apply.
If you are still in school and looking to gain experience before you graduate, make sure to ask your career centre about available co-op programs. Unlike internships, co-op programs allow you to gain experience in a number of different industries or organizations while alternating between work and school semesters.
3) Get an Environmental Designation
External validation of your skills through a designation or certification program can be highly attractive to employers. Plus, it’s a great way to boost the credentials on your resume. The Environmental Professionals in Training (EPt) designation is a one-of-a-kind student certification program that formally recognizes your dedication to environmental work. As an EPt, you can demonstrate your competency in the environmental industry and gain access to a number of career boosting programs: networking opportunities, regional chapters and an EPt-exclusive mentorship program. Additionally, you are able to showcase your commitment to a career in the sector. Click here to find out more about EPt certification.
4) Fine-tune Your Resume
Up until now, you have probably been able to obtain jobs simply by using your master resume. Now that you are heading out to find jobs in the environmental sector, it’s time for your resume to go green! A well thought-out, environment-specific resume is the perfect way to show employers that you know what you are talking about and you are committed to environmental work. Take a quick read of this article to find out how you can tailor your resume to environmental employers.
5) Access Canada’s Largest Environmental Job Board
Finding environment-specific job postings can be difficult, which is why ECO Canada has developed a network of environmental employers to help us in building Canada’s largest environmental job board. Browse the site to see if there are any available opportunities in your area.