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Experts voice: top skills to be successful at your green job (v. 1)

How many people could change or start a new career by entering the green job sector? The recent pandemic left many without stable job prospects, but the rapidly growing green jobs market can create opportunities for millions of new employees (source United Nations). According to a Brookings report cited by Bloomberg, green jobs’ salaries are above the US average.  

Throughout the past few months, we’ve interviewed professionals in various sustainability-related fields including sustainability consultants, environmental management, renewable energy specialists, and others. This article is the summary of what they think are the most important skills to have in order to be successful in a green career. We are grateful for everyone’s input and we are looking forward to hearing more great thoughts and stories from environmentalists and sustainability advocates.

If you are an expert in a sustainability-related field or just starting out your green career journey, we’d be happy to hear your questions/thoughts in the comments section and please apply to participate in the interview series.

Communication is vital when talking about green job skills.

Communication is a base whether you work in an office, at a research lab or remotely for a start-up. You will need to communicate with your colleagues, employers, investors or a whole range of stakeholders. 

Since the green jobs sector is still relatively recent in the employment market, your field may be entirely new for most people you will be working with. You will have to ensure your communication skills are top-notch to be able to convey the information in a clear and precise way. Linkedin experts claim that many older employees have communication issues affecting their job and employer relations. Considering that green jobs and skills attract mostly young candidates, communication abilities are seen as an essential requirement.

On top of that, a multidisciplinary approach is a must not only in terms of the variety of topics you may be handling but also when it comes to dealing with diverse sectors, from private investors and NGOs to government organisations. A senior lecturer at the Graduate School of the Environment in Wales underlines in the interview for the Guardian that communication and the ability to build professional relations are considered amongst the most relevant green skills in the job market.      

Adaptability counts more than ever among green job skills.

A young market means some rules and regulations are just being set in place. While many companies aspire to be branded as green, they often need to learn what it requires from them and how to balance various aspects of the business in a sustainable way without being accused of greenwashing. They will call for candidates with a great degree of adaptability who can adjust to the needs of a rapidly changing working environment.

Topics that were in the spotlight a year or two ago may no longer be relevant today, and green skills such as multidisciplinary knowledge and fast learning ability are becoming admissible to employers. Just a few years ago, companies around the world were bragging about banning plastic straw use, which is only the top of the mountain when it comes to plastic pollution, according to experts from Stanford University. Today, the focus has shifted to the low carbon economy and ways of achieving carbon neutrality. While both topics are essential to make a positive impact on the natural world, focusing exclusively on one could mean that our job opportunities will be limited. 

Passion will take you a long way.

All green job skills combined may not be sufficient if you don’t have a passion for what you do. Green jobs often come with a vital mission, lying at the base of all the aspects of business operations. Real interest and care for environmental issues, curiosity and problem-solving skills will come in handy when you need to engage with communities and persuade them to consider your argument valid.

Genuine concern for your responsibilities will also be valuable if you want to carry on research and keep up to date with industry developments. The Guardian points out that while specific education is a bonus, there are many opportunities for candidates who can demonstrate passion and commitment to sustainability matters.

Project management skills are also green skills.

Can you list the most critical abilities of a professional project manager? Excellent organisational and time-management skills, followed by collaboration, teamwork and critical thinking, are a must if you want to land a project management job. Undoubtedly, these skills can prove useful in several business sectors, and the green industry is definitely one of them. When managing green projects, you will have to coordinate technical, financial, social, environmental and legislative factors to achieve sustainable results. 

Is a specific academic degree one of the necessary green job skills? 

LinkedIn specialists are convinced that having an academic degree is no longer viewed as an achievement and is optional to succeed in the job market. That said, getting a specialised job with it could become more straightforward. While a sustainability or climate science degree can help you land your first green job, you must keep up to date with new regulations and be willing to broaden your knowledge. Countless resources, from courses and certifications to environmental science publications are available online to help you stay relevant. 

Hard skills vs soft skills for green jobs.

Soft skills can often help us land a dream job, even if we don’t have a great deal of experience or expertise. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be fair to say employers do not request that hard green job skills. The specific software knowledge, video editing, data analysing and report writing skills and experience can get you an interview for a desired job position.

Today, technology and innovations play a vital role in the sustainability industry. Scientists and IT specialists every day are developing new solutions to solve the most pressing issues of biodiversity and climate change. A lack of scientific background, understanding of a particular editing program or computer software may significantly reduce your chances when applying for a green job.

Not everyone is a scientist, but the good news is that many hard skills can be developed through learning and hands-on experience. Plus, obtaining some hard skills will help you better understand the core of the business you want to get into and the environmental consequences of human impact on the planet. You will still need those soft skills to back up your knowledge and expertise. A good combination of both is what most employers are looking for in skills for green jobs.

Download your free list of 100 Linkedin skills & keywords for sustainability professionals.

Further reading:

Latest tips and advice about green careers

Interviews with environmentalists and green sustainability professionals.

Check out our resources library.

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