In a July 16, 2010 blog post entitled “Hiring for Sustainability,” on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website, writer David Evans voices the problem many schools and firms are having now: How do you hire the right eco-professionals?
It would be easy to hire in one of the “traditional” sustainability-related areas (say, ecology or environmental ethics), but what I’d really like to do is leverage this hire by seeking someone who has truly new disciplinary expertise…But the problem then becomes how to articulate the position in such a way as to cast a wide net in any ads we’d place, without making it so broad as to be either impossibly vague or irresponsibly capacious.
Crafting a job post for sustainability isn’t difficult if you know the language. But if you’re not already deep in the effort and fluent with the terms, how do you know what to say if you’re just starting your sustainability program or business-model change? How do you attract quality candidates with solid track records, and ensure that you don’t drown in an ocean of tender light-greens?
As part of the effort to help both businesses and schools make the shift to a more sustainable operating model, working eco-practitioners have found over the years that getting people comfortable with the tools and language they need is key to moving this important paradigm shift forward. To this end, the Upper Midwest chapter of the o2 International Network for Sustainable Design has some great tips on where to start (o2umw.org/WhereDoIStart). o2-UMW suggests, rather than just dive in and hope you’ll figure out how to swim, use this checklist to help better prepare.
Checklist for Hiring Eco-pros:
1) Do your homework
There are two books out now that look at design and business in a holistic way. These works will give you a good overview of language, systems thinking, and eco-strategic methodologies currently being used by sustainability leaders: Packaging Sustainability: Tools, Systems and Strategies for Innovative Package Design (PackagingSustainability.info serves consumer goods industries on a variety of levels), and Sustainable Graphic Design: Tools, Systems and Strategies for Innovative Print Design (SustainableGraphicDesign.info serves print and media focused firms, with an additional chapter on eco-operations—“Working Smarter”—and an expanded section on carbon accounting).
2) Have a strategic goal
You may be hiring someone to help you solidify and flesh out your long-term eco-strategy, but if you have no clue at all, you will be easily taken in by anyone painting a utopian picture covered with easy buttons. Look at what your competition is up to, look around for initiatives in your industry. Having a good idea of who the eco-leaders are and what they’re doing will give you a basic idea of where you need to start heading. This will also aid you in identifying the candidates who can best help you achieve your goals.
3) Look for targeted experience and certification
Unfortunately, anyone can wake up one day and say “I’m an eco-pro,” then go out and peddle their wares. Look for candidates with a proven track record. Those who can talk in detail about the work they’ve done over the years, and those who have earned credentials in applied sustainability will be ready with real and actionable solutions, rather than a bunch of green-ish maybes.
As part of the o2umw.org “Higher Education Campaign: Eco-responsibility in the Classroom” campaign (o2umw.org/ecoinedu), and as part of their ongoing advocacy efforts for sustainable design, they can help institutions craft their job postings. o2 has been connecting long-time eco-practitioners with those new to sustainability for over 20 years. They’re happy to help, give them a call!
For more information, or to find a local o2-Liaison, contact Wendy Jedlicka, CPP at:
Wendy Jedlicka, CPP: Jedlicka Design Ltd., o2 International Network for Sustainable Design, Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s groundbreaking Sustainable Design Certificate Program. Books: Packaging Sustainability and Sustainable Graphic Design.