Launching Your Solar Job Search

The Solar Energy Industries Association believes that the stimulus plan, and its 19 provisions for aiding the solar industry, could create as many as 110,000 jobs over the next two years. But that won’t make landing one of those spots any easier.
As a result of a recessionary economy and layoffs at some firms earlier this year, plenty of people will be vying for those jobs. Here are some things you can do to get a leg up:

Learn about the Industry
When starting your job search in solar, the first thing is to start learning about the industry. “The people we end up hiring, they’re the ones out there doing the research, doing the homework,” says Brian van Moose, Director of Business Development at Borrego Solar. “When there are big policy changes that happen, everybody in our company is aware of it, everybody is tracking it.”
Determine a Focus
While you may be involved in conversations about solar now, and these should be ongoing, you’ll want to start thinking about what area of the industry you want to work in. Is there a specific type of technology you want to work with? Are there customers you’d like serve? Is your interest more technology or policy?
Develop a Strategy
Whatever stage you’re at, it’s worthwhile to think through your strategy to achieve your goal. (This is why having a focus is so important – you can’t have a strategy to get to your goal until you know what your goal is.) If you’re an engineering student and want a job as a design engineer, your strategy might be to get an internship at a startup, where you can start making contacts and building your industry experience. If you’re a marketing professional undergoing a transition from the financial services industry, and can’t afford an internship, you might decide to volunteer through a local nonprofit organization working on solar issues in your free time as a way to build your network and position yourself for an opening down the road.
Take Advantage of Volunteer Opportunities and Internships
Volunteering and internships can both play a powerful role as part of your strategy, because they provide you with real, on-the-ground experience in the industry and get you in front of people who know people who can hire you.
Execute Your Plan
Once you have a goal and a strategy, develop a daily list of things you plan to do to move your job search forward, with targeted dates for completing these tasks. If you’re job searching full time, create a set of activities equivalent to a full-time job. If you’re job searching part-time, while working a full-time job, you can break your activities into smaller, more achievable tasks.
Frank Marquardt is the author of the recently published Solar Job Guide.
Photo Source: Fairfax Digital

Frank Marquardt is the author of The Solar Job Guide and Green Careers, and a contributor to How Green Is Your City? He has contributed to 100s of career guides over the past 10 years. Frank is also director of content strategy at Native Instinct, an interactive agency.

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