6 ways to ace your sustainability job application

6 min read | Paul Gosling | Article | Job searching | Market trends

You’ve decided you want to pursue a career in sustainability and identified potential roles you want to apply for, so what’s next?

If you’re wondering how to present your skills and previous experience to a sustainability employer and stand out from other applicants, then you’re not alone. Sustainability is a relatively new field that’s constantly changing with new legislation and discoveries, meaning it can often be difficult for job seekers to know exactly what to expect from the recruitment process. But this shouldn’t deter you – now is the time to apply. Results from our Salary & Recruiting Trends guide show that 90% of sustainability organisations are planning on recruiting in the next 12 months.

1. Build your network and connect with like-minded individuals

Talking to people already in sustainability roles is a great way to discover new areas of interest. These sustainability professionals will have been in your position before, so will likely have practical tips on how to present your skills and work experience in a way that’s attractive to a potential sustainability employer.

Unsure where to start when it comes to building your professional network? LinkedIn is the go-to online platform for networking: you can search for employees currently working at organisations you’re applying to and join groups of sustainability enthusiasts. Professional bodies like IEMA provide additional opportunities for meaningful relationships to develop, through their established networks, including a network for early-career professionals, as well as their industry events.

2. Volunteer!

Not only can volunteering have a positive impact on the planet and local communities, but it can also enhance your skillset and provide networking opportunities. Volunteering for conservation and climate action groups can broaden your perspective on the internal workings of organisations and the types of sustainability jobs available, helping you to confidently answer questions in an interview setting. Real-world experience working in a sustainability organisation can highlight any gaps in your skillset, which you can address by undertaking specific sustainability training courses.

3. Get involved with sustainability initiatives in the workplace

If you’re finding it difficult to fit volunteering into your busy schedule, you may not need to look further than your current workplace to find sustainability initiatives to get involved with. Join your organisation’s sustainability network if there’s already one set up, or else, take the initiative and establish one yourself.

Bringing individuals together who are passionate about the environment and tackling climate change will lead to authentic conversations about sustainability initiatives. You could organise cycle to work schemes, community clear-ups, or eliminate single-use plastics in offices as a sustainability champion. These workplace initiatives may also lead to collaboration with local organisations, expanding your skillset and professional network even further.

4. Stay up to date with the latest sustainability trends

Most interviews for sustainability roles will include questions about current industry trends and key sustainability issues, so keep up to date with the latest news and research. Publications like the Green Business Journal and Business Green provide timely updates about sustainability topics. If you’re looking for more in-depth content to enrich your knowledge, there are many insightful TED talks on sustainability, as well as research-led reports and thought leadership articles produced by consultancies including McKinseyPwC, and Accenture.

5. Identify your transferable skills

If you’re applying for your first role in sustainability, think about the transferable skills you’ve developed in your career so far, be it in previous jobs, volunteering positions, or elsewhere. Include a skills section in your CV and LinkedIn profile, as this highlights to a potential employer the value you can bring to a role. Connect your attributes to real-world problems that you can draw upon in interviews, for example, using your negotiation skills to encourage business stakeholders to invest in a new carbon capture project.

6. Find your niche in the sustainability space

Find connections between your passions, interests, qualifications, areas of expertise, and the sustainability role. Remember, you have something unique and valuable to bring to the table – once you’ve identified your niche, you’ll find it easier to convey your passion and suitability for a particular job during the interview process.

Ready to take the next step in securing a sustainability job that’s right for you? Get in touch with our expert sustainability consultants for more job application tips and to tap into our vast network of leading sustainability employers.

About this author

Paul Gosling, National Director for Sustainability Recruitment, Hays

Paul has been a specialist recruiter in environment and sustainability for over 25 years. He started recruiting into the sector in 1995 after finishing his BSc in Environmental Science and he’s worked with thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies over the past 20-plus years to support their growth and development in this dynamic and critically important sector.

During this time, Paul has built a wealth of knowledge and he’s recognised as a leading expert on overcoming the unique recruitment challenges facing the environment and sustainability sector.

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