∫ How To Find A Job In Cleantech

Want to get one of these mythical “green jobs” you keep hearing about? Then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’ve been in the work force for thirty years or are just finishing school, this post is designed to help you gainfully join the fight to help the environment and achieve independence from non-domestic, non-renewable fuels.

Although cleantech companies do not recruit at career fairs or through personal networks at the same scale as Fortune 500 companies, there are still tons of ways to find great cleantech companies offering a variety of jobs.

If you want to work for Carbon Lighthouse, then email your resume and cover letter to careers {at} carbonlighthouse {dot} com. Whether we’re actively hiring now or not, we’ll add you to our database and you’ll be the first to know about new positions.

If you want to work elsewhere, what follows is a system you can follow to find pretty much any green job you can think of. Here’s the system:

0. Green Job Boards. There are a few of these. Social Good Jobs is one of them, and they even keep a list of other green job boards here. There’s also the Green Jobs Network, which keeps a pretty comprehensive list here. This is a very easy place to start because you can just apply to jobs like any normal person: look up people who are hiring, and apply. These will be competitive jobs, however, because they are so easy to find. So if you need or want to look beyond what is easily findable on jobs boards, go on to step 1.

1. Greentech Media (GTM) is an excellent place to start. Their stories cover everything cleantech, with particular detail on companies that recently raised venture capital funding. Venture capital funding is good news for you because one of the first things a CEO does with the sudden influx of millions of dollars is hire people. Conveniently, Greentech Media has sorted their coverage into categories like solar, grid, energy efficiency, etc. Spend an hour browsing through the different categories to figure out which ones interest you the most, and then start compiling a list of companies that sound interesting.

Many of the companies covered will be based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but don’t be concerned; the food is fantastic and you can still drive to the mountains to enjoy winter if you like. There are also 100+ companies based throughout the country and world that Greentech Media covers, so you should have no problem creating a list of companies east of Yosemite.

2. Industry Groups. These are great for developing target company lists since they often have a list of their member companies. The American Solar Energy Society has a list of State Chapters. Click on the State you’d like to work in, and the contact info for someone in that State who’s familiar with every solar company in it will pop right up. Seem like a lot of work to call people in a bunch of States to get a list of companies? No problem, CASE just publishes a list of their member companies. There’s even an industry group that publishes a list of solar industry groups for you. Solar not your thing? There’s AWEA for wind, there’s the DRCC for Demand Response, there’s Efficiency First for energy efficiency, etc. Choose your topic area, google “My Area of Interest” Industry Group, and you’ll be on your way.

3. Another easy place to develop a national list of companies is through Pacific Gas and Electric, the largest utility in California. PG&E maintains a list of “3rd Party Program Providers”. These are private companies, many of them national is scope, that run incentive programs to promote energy efficiency. You can develop a list of them here.

Go to the bottom and click on the industries you’re interested in. A list of companies providing energy efficiency services for each will be provided. Using this list, you can develop a list of 25 target companies in ten minutes.

There are similar sources of companies in states not serviced by Pacific Gas & Electric. Massachusetts, for example, has the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. New York State has NYSERDA. California has the California Energy Commission, and, luckily for you, every single State has a Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC may be called something different (in New York it’s the Public Service Commission or PSC), but they are all there to regulate utilities and are required to disclose who wins contracts for efficiency work. If the utilities in your State run energy efficiency programs, they need to disclose who wins contracts as well.

How do you talk to these giant organizations? You need to reach people called “Project Managers,” “Account Executives,” or “Account Managers.” These are the people who are customer facing. Customer facing is good. It means they are in the service business and are more likely to be friendly and inclined to help you. It also means they know who the companies are that are working with customers. Working with customers is good because it means revenue, and hence the potential to hire you.

One note on this sourcing method: persistence is key. Not every government or regulated monopoly employee will be incredibly helpful to you immediately. You can always politely ask to be transferred to someone who runs a different program or interacts with a different set of customers. You may get bounced around a lot, but you should eventually be able to get to someone helpful.

4. Don’t forget, PUCs and utilities need employees too, and those can be interesting and stable jobs that provide good perspective on the cleantech industry. Cleantech companies find it as difficult to get good talent as you find it to difficult to find them (the two are related), so working for government or a utility can be a great stepping stone; cleantech firms often try to woo away public employees.

5. Another place for potential jobs is oil companies. That’s correct. Chevron Energy Solutions, for example, is one of the largest players in the solar market. Shell has a large biofuels unit. So does BP. Are they oil companies? Yes. Are those divisions still full of people trying to build a sustainable planet? Yes.

6. Getting tired of doing research on companies to talk to? No problem, have someone else do it for you. Headhunters make a living by helping people like you get jobs. You don’t even need to pay them; the company that ends up hiring you will do that for you. Don’t know headhunters? No problem: Hobbs and Towne, ON Search Partners, Heidrick & Struggles, Clarey/Napier International, Bright Green Talent, Zander Green, Think Resources, and Whitham Group all have cleantech recruiters. There are many more firms as well that a quick web search will reveal.

7. Need yet more sources? Lots of green companies are public, which means Google or Yahoo Finance are your new best friends. Go to the website, and enter any public company in an industry you’re interested in. For example, if solar is your thing, enter Trina Solar and then scroll down. A list of their competitors, e.g. other companies you can apply to work at, will pop up.

8. Venture Capital firms are also helpful here. They publish some of their portfolio companies. If you are any type of engineer, scientist, mathematician, or just generally someone who gets a warm fuzzy feeling when you hear the phrase “we got an adjusted R-Square of 0.94”, this conversation is very easy: “Hi, I’m an engineer interested in working for X, could you please put me in touch with the hiring manager?” VCs love introducing engineers to their portfolio companies, and the portfolio company will always take the call after an intro from their VC because they feel beholden. You don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling from regressions? No problem, try anyway. You’ll learn in a few phone calls whether or not this strategy will work for you. VC firms do hire themselves, but you usually need an intro for that.

9. Are you a former banker? Great, there are now at least a dozen energy efficiency finance firms. Transcend, Metrus, Cedargate Capital, Green City Finance, Pinnacle Capital, Green Campus Partners, Serious Capital, and Groom Energy are just a few. Groom and Serious do a lot more than just finance as well. Call ‘em up.

Like the finance idea? There’s a lot more opportunity. There are (finally) starting to be “PACE” regions throughout the country. PACE is Property Assessed Clean Energy. It’s a clever way to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. We could probably write a whole series of posts just on PACE alone, but the quick version is that municipalities issue bonds, use the money to pay for clean energy projects in buildings, and then recoup their money through increased property taxes on whatever buildings took advantage of the free money. The idea is that the increase in property taxes is less than the energy savings, so building owners save money from day one and cities get more efficiency projects. It’s a clever redistribution of money from power plants to municipalities, with banks getting a fee, but no one talks about that and we’ll let that go for now. Why do we mention PACE? PACE regions hire people to manage PACE. Whole companies have sprung up to service PACE regions.

10. Fortune 2000 companies have sustainability teams now too. They’re small, but they’re there. Most receptionists will just transfer you directly to someone in HR, and you can ask them who’s on the sustainability team and what their extension is.

11. ESCOs are Energy Service Companies. There are lots of them. Trane, Johnson Controls, Seimens, Ameresco, Carrier. The list goes on. Many of them are profitable. Some of them are hiring. There are new ESCOs everyday.

12. There are all sorts of niche parts of the green jobs market. Don’t be afraid to do a narrow web search and see what comes up. There are companies that make Smart Meters (SilverSpring Networks, Itron), there are companies that finance solar installations (SunRun, SolarCity, Sungevity), there are energy storage companies, electric and other car companies (Tesla, Mission Motors, Nissan, GM, Toyota), there are green consulting companies (Green Order, Blu Skye, E Three), and there are tons of great not-for-profits as well like the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund. Many of them are hiring. Solar City, for example, hired 800+ people last year alone and as of the writing of this post is continuing to hire like gangbusters.

13. People. In the end, people are the fastest route to job opportunities, since few if any hiring processes don’t involve people at some point. If you’ve been looking for work for many months, you’re likely tired of hearing the importance of networking. Rather than state its importance, we’ll list some good general green networking resources. If you go in with an open mind and positive attitude, you are almost guaranteed to come away feeling good from events like: Green Drinks, Eco-Tuesday, US Green Building Council events, and LinkedIn green group events. Be selective with the last one as there are hundreds of green-related groups and there is a variance in quality. For those who are young or young at heart, Young Professionals in Energy (YPE) has very interesting speakers and networking events. Conferences like Green Build and others provide informal ways to meet green business people. Even if many of the people you meet are looking for green jobs like you, odds are they’re seeking a different kind of job, and they can be a resource for you in your search.

There is no shortage of cleantech firms, and even though most of them don’t recruit at career fairs, hopefully the systems outlined in this post will help you find them.

Still reading and not bored to tears yet? Great! Leave a comment with your thoughts or even just letting us know if this was helpful or not. The more comments, the easier this post is to find for everyone, and the more people join the clean energy fight!

If at the end of all your research, you still can’t find a team of passionate people that is creating something you’re so excited about you can’t sleep, then start your own. There are tons of green business opportunities and tons of resources out there for entrepreneurs trying to solve issues in the green space. Those, however, are topics for another post.

13 Responses to ∫ How To Find A Job In Cleantech

  1. I just finished reading your blog, and it was so inspiring, and filled with great information! I have never come across something so thorough and helpful in the green job hunt, and searching for jobs can be a very daunting endeavor. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. This is a great article, I highly recommend it to anyone searching for a position in cleantech! Thanks very much!

    Reply
  3. Monica Gras says:

    Amazing article. It took me months to figure out half of these tips, trends and links by myself, and here I find them all in one page plus much more. Definitely a guide to come back to every time you hit a close end. I recommend it to all those who are seeking a job in the clean tech / green industry. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  4. This is a great article. It has tons of resources referenced in it at every point. I will always come back to these tips and tricks when looking not only for a CleanTech job, but any job actually since a lot of these tips apply to all industries.

    Reply
  5. This is one of the most helpful articles I have seen on the topic of green jobs! Comprehensive and to the point! Thank you for compiling a list of all of these places to look other than job boards!

    Reply
  6. Brenden, you did a great job in this article! I know all of these avenues that you mentioned and they are excellent strategies for researching entities in the emerging Clean Tech industry. Regards, Rose

    Reply
  7. I’ve been in “search” and career development my entire career…certainly before we met when you were in 7th grade. This is as well written, informative, authentic piece on career success possibilites I can ever remember reading.
    Nice job Brenden…congrats to you and Rafi for what you guys are doing!

    Reply

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