I had a chance to do a quick email interview with Nick Corcodilos, author of the Ask a Headhunter Blog and a frequent contributor to Fast Company. My questions for Nick concern the rise of so-called “green” recruiting firms and other folks capitalizing on the rise of green jobs – are they for real? or just jumping on a trend?
Jen Boynton: I’m concerned by the idea that “green search firms are a racket playing on a theme,” I’d assumed that they were just new firms targeting my demographic but I see from reading your book that a headhunter doesn’t need to know how to do a job to find a good candidate- he just needs to be a great networker. However, given that sustainability is a completely new field with a new set of parameters is their any use at all for search firms that specialize in environmental jobs?
Nick Corcodilos: I’m sorry to say that I keep finding more opportunistic use of “green” than legitimate use in marketing. I think this will change, but I fear the term “green” is lost already. It’s an empty slogan that sells product for many companies — but too often seems to have little to do with environmentalism. I’m sure there are some search firms that are trying to really be green… but what’s the point? A good search firm that handles all sorts of positions can create a “green” area within its practice. The challenge that “green” search firms face is… doing search properly to begin with. If I were looking for a green job, I’d try to hook up with the best search firms, period, and emphasize what I’m looking for.
JB: What dangers does a candidate face in registering with a company purporting to find them a “green” job?
Nick Corcodilos: I think the main danger is… Are they really good at search, or are they trying mostly to be green? A solid job candidate could wind up wasting a lot of time unless the firm really knows what it is doing. I guess I’m just skeptical. I’d start by identifying green companies I want to work for, and go from there — not by going to a “green search firm.” It just adds another layer to the process — and more cost all around.
JB: The bulk of our readers are MBA students with an interest in sustainability, entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs” (people who are working to make change from within organizations). None of these are groups that fit cookie cutter job openings, and this is a challenge in any job market, especially this one. What sort of advice do you have for people who have a “non-traditional” employment background but are looking for corporate placement?
Nick Corcodilos: I think the larger question is risk tolerance. Green firms are just a subset of all start-ups, companies in very risky positions. That’s fine, but a job hunter must decide how much risk they are willing to take on. The alternative is to look at more established businesses that are trying to “go green.” I don’t think these positions are very visible. It takes a lot of networking and research to find such jobs. Again, see above: I’d start by targeting certain companies because they’re overall good places to work, then drill down into “green.”
JB: Many of our readers want to make the world a better place through their work (do well by doing good, we call it). Many job openings don’t have such a thing listed in the “qualifications” list. Is a candidate shooting himself in the foot by talking about his values in a meeting with a headhunter, if the conversation is about a “non-sustainable” job? What’s the most productive way to bring up this component of the conversation?
Nick Corcodilos: Doing well by doing good is not a “job qualification.” It’s a spirit and a perspective. The question is, is the company doing well by doing good? So pick the company carefully first. I write about this in an article called “Peeling the Offer“. Look at the company’s products, people and reputation. Do they fit your spirit and perspective? I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “sustainable job” in itself. I think it’s important to figure out what we really mean by sustainable…
JB: What’s the most fulfilling thing about your work? Your least favorite part?
Nick Corcodilos: When people go, “Aha, now I get what you’re saying — if the work I do produces more than it costs, then I’m adding value to a business…”