Curriculum Vitae Verde – Practical Tips for Refreshing your Resume

By Lindsay Wolff Logsdon, Human Resources Manager, frog design

With the Green Jobs Act now over two years old, and President Obama pledging that jobs in sustainable energy and resources will be a keystone of US economic recovery, the next frontier of the American job market is a very green place.   Job seekers pushed out of more traditional markets are pursuing these “green collar jobs”. As they take that step towards a career in green business, they need to consider the best way to highlight their experience and passion.  Whatever your background, a fresh résumé is a great place to start.  In this post I’ll share a few practical tips to help make your résumé a strong reflection of your passion and ethics.

As a recruiter and human resources manager, my zone of experience has mainly been in the design industry – my advice comes from many years of reviewing applications for design, technology, and program management positions within design consultancies.  That said, the design and green industries share many similarities (and in some sectors, they downright converge) – both industries require a high level on innovation, a strong passion for the subject matter, and in many cases, an unconventional approach to career paths.

From a résumé and job hunt standpoint, there are many things someone interested in breaking into a green business can learn from the design industry.

As with the creative industries, successful candidates in sustainability fields need to exhibit two traits – the skills to get the job done, and the passion to help launch and evangelize a new way of thinking about business.  Take Patagonia’s job listing page, for example – front and center, they ask candidates to consider why they want to work for a green company.

“We’re especially interested if you share our love of the outdoors, our passion for quality and our desire to make a difference”

A recruiter or hiring manager should be able to sense that desire from your résumé before they even glance at your work experience or educational background.  A good résumé starts with a strong personal statement, (often in the form of an Objective or Statement of Purpose) – it should clearly identify that you’re pursuing a career that will allow you to utilize your unique skill set and satisfy your personal ethics of sustainability.  Consider also using a quote that captures the passion you feel for green business.

When you approach the education and work experience areas of your résumé, think about highlighting any training you’ve had in sustainability and environmental science.  Even if your MBA (or professional practice) wasn’t specifically geared towards sustainability, it’s a good idea to call attention to any coursework that centered on environmental issues.  Started the recycling program at your last company?  Even if it wasn’t your primary responsibility, it’s a good idea to include those details to show that you’ve personally sought out ways to bring green solutions to your workplace.

Don’t stop at listing those experiences that fall within your studies or time in the office – green business is an industry that has grown from the passion of individuals dedicated to looking at the world in a new, holistic way.  List out your ‘extracurricular activities’ – volunteer efforts, pro bono work, hobbies, and other interests.  Create a picture of who you are and how you spend your time – share the books you’re reading, blogs you follow, lectures you’ve recently attended.  Include any accolades you’ve received – if you were recently written up in the local paper for the neighborhood garden you started, include a link to the article.

The last step for your résumé is to think about the presentation.  As Patagonia will remind you:

Lastly, we work very hard to minimize our impacts on the environment, and we strongly believe that one person’s actions can make a difference in the health of our environment. In keeping with these values, we’d appreciate some sensitivity to environmental concerns in the preparation of your résumé materials. Please be environmentally responsible in the presentation of your information.

Large companies like Patagonia often have online application forms and résumé drops; the environmental impact of your application is greatly diminished when you submit your résumé in digital form.  Make sure that your “digital form” stays intact – whenever possible, send a pdf copy instead of a Word document (which maybe be automatically reformatted in different software versions).    You may also want to research the names and email address of the recruiter and hiring manager, and email them directly with an introductory message and a résumé attachment.

In those cases where a hard copy résumé is requested (at a formal interview, for example), pay close attention to the details.  Printing on post-consumer recycled paper is a start; you may also want to consider printing on both sides of the page.  If your résumé is more than two pages, consider shorting the content – keep in mind that your most recent position will be of more interest than a job you had five+ years ago.  Other résumé tricks include using a legible 9 point font and replacing the word ‘and’ with ‘&’.

Once your resume has been submitted, look for other avenues to connect with the company.  If they have a company blog, sign up for the RSS feed and actively comment on posts that interest you.   Attend conferences and workshops that feature company representatives, and ask good questions.  If the company sponsors an event in your area, reach out and offer to volunteer.

As the number of green collar jobs continue to rise, it will be more important than ever to distinguish your application from the others.  Following these steps and clearly communicating your passion for green business can help your resume rise to the top.  And above all else, make sure your resume and approach to your job search is authentic to who you are; like the design industry, you’ll never get a position by faking it.  ‘Greenwashing’ your resume won’t get you very far; conversely, giving an honestly picture of your skill set and passion for green business will help employers understand how you can help their business succeed.

These articles were created as part of the course work for “Live Exchange” the foundational course on communication for The MBA Design Strategy Program at California College of the Arts. Read more about the project here.

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