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Green Jobs > Have You Got What It Takes?

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#CSR #Greenjobs #Sustainability
“What do you do for a living?” “Well, I work in sustainable development.” “Ooh, this is one growing sector!” the last landlord I met told me. Next thing I know, I got the apartment. In a world of economic crisis, on a market where even a graduate student cannot take “finding” a job for granted, one sector has however gained ground and expanded, and I am referring here to sustainability, an area in which many think “the next big job boom” is about to happen. However, here are a few things one should know prior to making sustainability career choices…

Who’s to be hired?

As public concern has significantly grown about companies impact on environment and society, recent research has shown an increasing number of employers tend to give “positive weight” to applicants with experience in sustainability. However, sustainability alone is in many cases not enough, so that the ultimate combination for golden business opportunities would be for a job seeker to offer professional training in a common field as well as skills in sustainability. After analyzing about 100 job postings, & surveying about 200 managers and executives from small, medium and large companies, {{LNK|Arizona State University W.P Carey School of Business professor Kevin Dooley|}} concluded candidates with a “dual degree”– or an undergraduate major different from their graduate one, including sustainability - were almost guaranteed to lead a bright career. He found out 65% of small companies, & 87% of the large firms said they would value such concentration when recruiting.

What for?

Thinking of careers in CSR or sustainability, “we often think of the dedicated CSR Director or Chief Sustainability Officer”. Now if we take a look closer, as we learn from {{LNK|Net Impact and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2011 guide “Corporate Careers That Make a Difference,”|}} we also see people who hold job titles “not immediately considered part of the world of corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability,” but instead related to more traditional fields such as “finance, product management, supply chain management, operations, and others”. Many of them have transitioned from one field to another – no less than 95% according to the Profiles of the Profession 2010 survey from the Carroll School of Management’s Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College - and still find themselves addressing “social and environmental issues” on a regular basis, often working for companies that do not initially exist to deal with environmental or social impact work.

If sustainability alone will hardly be enough to provide a living, another obstacle to overturn is most of the recruitment for CSR jobs also happens internally. “While corporate citizenship leader candidates in the past were often recruited from outside a company based on their knowledge of specific external issues,” notes the {{LNK|Center for Corporate Citizenship|}}, “today’s corporate citizenship leaders increasingly appear to be coming from within the company. These individuals can come from either the operational or corporate affairs side, but have in common a deep knowledge of the business and business culture.”

Who’s hiring?

Still, “a lot of the national economy” is likely to offer such positions. In the public sector, this includes government departments, schools and universities, military bases and large corporations with “buildings, grounds, food service, a vehicle fleet, water/wastewater facilities, intensive use of energy (…) a transportation network and a large scale procurement of goods and services.” Regarding the private sector, “all of the Fortune 1000 companies will be hiring sustainability managers”, and smaller businesses are increasingly seeking candidates in this field too, Kevin Doyle already said in 2008 {{LNK|(see article)|}}. Of course, the world economic crisis has come to slightly alter these tendencies…

What should pros be aware of?

{{LNK|As highlights today|}}, different trends have indeed emerged on the market.

For the time being, most job applications focus around the “institutional use of energy, water and other natural resources” and sustainability professionals will therefore mostly be hired for “specific skills.” A central preoccupation remains GHG reductions management, unfortunately often to the detriment of one of three pillars to sustainability, which is companies’ impact on society.

Large firms have started expressing their preferences for a sustainable supply chain, and economic pressure pushes smaller suppliers to work towards compliance. Still, “If you know a company without a designated sustainability executive working on educating and empowering their suppliers, get your foot in the door…”

Also, as public policy increasingly encourages companies to take measures of transparency in exchange for financial bonuses, most vice presidents in big firms now also have budget allocated to hiring sustainability deputies.

Growing hopes for the future... with conditions.

The evolution of sustainability jobs on the market is a good indicator of the growing spot CSR occupies in minds, and in business. “As companies and governments make structural changes to promote sustainability, sustainability is likely to become a permanent part of most institutions”. With such diversity of job functions and fields in which sustainability is applicable, the possibilities are endless… Yet, double qualification and internal promotion tend to be key - in most cases - to fill in such position.

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