Here’s some candid, creative, real-world advice about how to break into impact work without a lot of direct experience:
Be smart with the communications tools at your disposal
Sustainability professionals need great communication skills, so use yours to start a conversation with potential employers through social media. It’s critical to use all the tools at your disposal to develop an engaged, online presence and start piecing together a circle of contacts. Twitter and blogging are fantastic ways to do this – just make sure your blogging is consistent in terms of timeliness, tone, and topic.
Social media can be a real door-opener. You can reach out to different companies through Twitter or LinkedIn and said ‘Hey, I’m interested in what you’re doing; can I have an informational interview?’
Making an impact professionally requires making a personal impact, too
Get busy developing genuine personal relationships with prospective employers. Connecting with real people is another essential sustainability skill, so demonstrate that you’ve got what it takes by nurturing professional relationships with a confident, calm attitude. Even for the currently unemployed (perhaps especially), this is key.
So keep your network vibrant both during the job search and once you’re happily settled into your next role.
Make yourself useful to those already doing impact work
Celebrate other people’s successes, share interesting information, be helpful, and be useful. When you hear of something great that has happened to someone you know, share that with other people, and send them a personal note.
If you’re already working within a company, investigate your company’s CSR and sustainability agenda and then network with people on the teams you want to join. Generally internal teams will talk openly with fellow colleagues and the people excited about these ideas will talk to you, too. So once you’re in a role, keep reaching out and get to know the people who might be your next boss.
So in a nutshell? Engage, communicate, connect, and make the most of your opportunities to build up the skills you need to get the impact job you want. Have questions, ideas, or are ready for the next step? Contact me!