Hiring for Environmental Jobs: Issues and Ways to Deal with Them

If your startup or company is into the environment and any product / service related to it (renewable energy, climate change research, environmental engineering, advocacy, consultancy, etc.), then you are going on the ever increasing wave of one of the modern trends. The market of environmental products / services and “green tech” is valued at about 1.6 trillion EUR and is growing at about 5% annualy (The World Bank, 2014; Environmental Science, 2017). This is the good news, right?

Unfortunately, there is also no-so-good news related to this rapid market growth. And this is about the increasing difficulty of finding, hiring, and retaining candidates on environmental jobs.

The rate of educating and preparing new environmental specialists and scientists does not match the rate of environmental market growth and its demand for these new specialists. In addition, the attractiveness of other jobs highly demanded on other existing markets and promising high wage levels (such as web / software / app development on the IT market) draws many young people into them and out of other industries, such as the ones related to environment. As a result, if you are working on the environmental market and need new team members and specialists to hire, it is getting more and more difficult for you to do it.

In the organization MEGA that we co-founded before ENVERACE we experienced just that: much time and costs for finding and recruiting candidates for our environmental jobs, who later on turned out to be not interested in or not suitable for continuing with the work in the domain. So, we needed to hire new people again and again. This is one of the reasons why we have started experimenting with pre-selection and assessment of candidates for environmental jobs and have founded ENVERACE.

Now, what can you do to find, attract, assess, engage, and hire the most suitable and qualified specialist for your environmental job? Here are the 3 main tips that we have learnt from our experience in MEGA and ENVERACE.

  1. Design an attractive and compelling environmental job post.

Looking at the market of environmental jobs, we see that the dominant majority of them are very “conservative”: they have lots of text, which communicates many things about general context and requirements of the job, but little on what a candidate will actually do for it; little to no visual support for a candidate to visualize the job environment and related activities; and not really convincing call to action (CTA) or just lack of it. Compare them with IT job posts that are easy to read and get the essence about the work expected to be done and that are just screaming with multiple perks, appealing graphics, and catchy CTAs. Certainly, such format is influenced by the specifics of these jobs. While IT jobs are pretty straightforward in terms of needs and requirements (software development in .NET; required skill in programming in .NET), environmental jobs characterize by their vast “biodiversity” in terms of roles, work to be done, and requirements (green economist or consultant might be needed for economic valuation of ecosystem services, cost-benefit analysis, environmental audit, environmental impact assessment, and so on).

Still, we believe it is possible to design and publish an attractive environmental job post. To do that you can use your own imagination and creativity, requiest help from your internal marketing department, or appeal for support to other companies specializing in jobs and recruitment. The latter is a good choice if you and your marketing department do not have sufficient time to “play” with environmental job post design. If you do choose this way, we will be happy to help you.

  1. Give candidate a “taste” of what the job is about.

As it was mentioned earlier, environmental jobs largely vary in what they expect from a candidate to do, if he/she is hired for it. So, just from a “traditional” job description the candidate would not understand clearly how great it is and whether he/she wants to commit to it in the long run. The consequences of this are: from one side many talented and suitable candidates may not understand the job and not apply for it, while from the other side you are likely to receive many generic applications and general CVs of unsuitable candidates, making you lose time evaluating and interviewing them.

What we recommend you to do is to integrate a job-related assessment into the application process for your environmental job. It should not be very complex and demanding in order not to scare candidates off. But it should offer them a “taste” of what you expect people to do and what problems you want them to solve at the job. Such assessment can be in the form of a question for a candidate to reflect upon and write his/her solution, or a mini-task (“mission”) for a candidate to accomplish and report on the results. And you can then use it to see, who of all candidates has clearly understood what the job is about and is motivated to commit to it.

For example, in our product, the ENVERACE Pre-selection Button, we have such an assessment integrated as a Final Challenge in the application form. Check out this example to see how it works.

  1. Focus on the most suitable and qualified candidates.

After implementing the first two activities, you should already be able to attract and engage more candidates on your environmental job post, present them what it is about, and assess their understanding of the job and motivation to do it. Still, with all that in place, you are likely to receive some generic applications that are not worth spending your time on. You need to focus on the ones that are most suitable and qualified for the job and invite them for interviews. How to do that?

We suggest you to design the application process in such way that it automatically checks each new application on the critical requirements of the job and then arranges all candidates into some sort of “leaderboard” with first priority candidates on top, followed by second priority ones, etc. This will allow you to clearly see, who are the ones you should approach immediately, as they are the people, who understand your job, are motivated to do it, and match its critical requrements the most. It may also give you inputs on how people perceive your environmental job post, which you can use to adjust the job description and application process.

If you do not have time to do all this by yourself, you can outsource such pre-selection and assessment work to a recruitment agency. We, ENVERACE, are focused exactly on pre-selection and assessment of candidates for environmental jobs, so we will be glad if you give us a try.

In sum, it gets tougher to find, select, assess, and hire suitable and qualified specialists for environmental jobs due to such factors as growing market and competition and the specific complexities of this type of jobs. You can overcome the challenges by designing more attractive and engaging job posts, offer candidates a job-related assessment for them to understand what the job is about, automatically pre-select all the applicants, and focus only on the most suitable and qualified ones. Our startup ENVERACE with its product, the ENVERACE Pre-selection Button, is ready to support you with all the services mentioned above. So, you can contact us, if you find this support valuable and needed for you.


Photos: Green Talents, 2013.


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