Going green means doing more than recycling, buying environmentally friendly products and supporting environmental activist groups. With the dawn of a significantly more environmentally-friendly Obama administration, environmentalists finally have a real opportunity to turn green rhetoric into green action - on the job. If you have been following the discussions about job stimulus legislation and programs, you already know that many people believe that the United States is in the position to be a world leader as a producer of green technology and alternative energy innovations.
As a job seeker who cares about the long-term sustainability of the environment, there are many things you need to be doing right now that will position you to be able to participate in the development of this green technology revolution. Not only do you need to fill any gaps in your education, you need to be able to demonstrate your commitment to energy efficiency in your current position. Even if you do not land the perfect alternative energy job, you will have made a positive contribution to our economy and "mother earth."
Following are examples of actions you can take right now that will help to improve both your company's position and your own career security:
- Construction jobs - If you work in the building industry, you can take courses on the use of recycled materials in construction as well as ways to build structures to maximize energy efficiency. Become an expert in compliance with environmental regulations and investigate ways that your company can promote itself as a green contractor. You can also help your employer institute company policies against such practices as leaving equipment idling for hours (burning gas and dollars) or paying to toss materials into landfills that may be used on other projects or donated to Habitat Restore.
- Transportation jobs - If you work for a trucking company, a city or state transportation department or any other organization that uses large numbers of motorized vehicles, you can become your organization's source for innovative, cost-saving, environmentally friendly proposals. There is a huge amount of information online, in local libraries and at thousands of universities across the country. The trouble is that much of the information, including cost studies, never make it to the "front lines." If you use whatever position you have to help bring that information to your company, you will be saving money for your organization and probably positioning yourself for a promotion.
- Retail jobs - As a retailer, you can become a leader in promoting green ideas that reach out into the community. Not only can you stock and promote eco-friendly products on your shelves, you can offer things like "bag credits" for the use of reusable bags or for customers who do not ask for a bag. You can pass on the word to your suppliers that you will strongly favor products which make an effort to reduce packaging and pass on green ideas you receive from your customers.
- Office or accounting jobs - Financial statements and internal documents never need to be printed on unused paper. Using the back side of paper, discouraging staples that make paper harder to re-use and placing recycling receptacles all over the building is only the beginning. Most companies can realize huge savings by going paperless in many areas. Not only do electronic files and PDFs save paper, they save dramatic amounts of storage space, since you can put the documents from an entire room full of file cabinets onto a significantly smaller computer disk. Your task is to become the office expert in this area by studying, reading, attending online (green) conferences and preparing reports to demonstrate the significant cost savings to your organization. As the office expert on green cost-saving policies, you will soon see how much more marketable you will be to other employers. No matter what the state of the economy, making yourself more attractive to employers is never a bad move!
These are just a few examples of actions you can take now. If you are currently unemployed, you can still use this knowledge to make yourself more employable. No matter what you do, be sure to document your knowledge and accomplishments and add them in summary form to your resume. This becomes the perfect win-win-win situation where you can help your employer help the environment and get paid to do it!
If anyone would like to contribute additional ideas for these professions or any others, I would enjoy hearing from you!