Does your CleanTech job hunt s***?

Job seekers, chin up! You are not alone. You have company, but you’ll need to have some tenacity because Q1 2009 will not provide you with many easy opportunities. If you are keen on getting a job in renewable energy and you don’t have any experience or situational awareness…. then you had better start getting some or else the 300 former Optisolar employees will get your gig.  Optisolar‘s struggle to find additional financing is not unique.  In the Bay Area companies that received funding with the expectation of raising another round in late ’08 early ’09 will continue to slash their burn rate by going through the painful process of off loading expensive and experienced workers that they painstakingly researched, hired and trained in previous months.

So, put yourself in a hiring manager’s position, should he hire you if you don’t know the difference between an inverter and a module? Wouldn’t it be best to hire an employee with some connections and a rolodex? What to do? Well, get on the networking train – check out our calendar, figure out where you can go meet folks, and learn.  Bay area folks, The Young Professionals in Energy have a great networking event coming up on the 4th of February, it should be on our events calendar already.

The bottom line is you would do well to invest time going to classes, networking events and volunteering to get some practical experience. You can do all three at the same time if you are efficient.  In the Bay area there are two great organizations that I have gotten involved in – the California CleanTech Open and Grid Alternatives.  If you have some solid work experience join the mentor team at CCTO and work with some great entrepreneurs and grow and learn with a them.  PG&E gives free classes, check them out and see if your schedule allows.

I caught up with Erica Mackie, founder of Grid Alternatives yesterday, and they need your help. The video below will give you a good idea about who they are and the impact they have on their community.  Take a class with them and volunteer to install solar panels on low income homes.  If you want to have more impact with them, then apply to be the Bay Area Regional Director – they are looking for a leader with P&L experience and a strong desire to have a social and an environmental difference.

Have any Question or Comment?

5 comments on “Does your CleanTech job hunt s***?


Well, nearly every job hunt sucks – it’s a discouraging and (typically) lengthy process made much worse by the black hole the economy into which the economy has been sucked. Most senior level candidates know the rule of thumb – one month looking for every $10K in expected salary, and that time line has only gotten longer as an increasing number of candidates chase a decreasing number of jobs.

Ian’s advice is spot on, especially those for those looking to transition from high tech to clean tech. The volunteer solar panel or weatherization route also shows a deeper level of commitment. Another option for those looking to get into the green building or sustainability space is to become a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Accredited Professional), a process I described in a few earlier posts.

Whatever your strategy, you need to separate yourself from the crowd, and you need to take the long view. There are plenty of energy industry jobs available, but all of them are looking for relevant industry experience. That ‘perfect’ opportunity may present itself after only a few weeks or at your first networking event or trade show — but it also might take 12-18 months or more before you finally find the right fit for your skills and interests.

One thing seems clear to me, though — based on current market conditions and medium-term outlook, a career in clean tech will beat a career in high tech hands down in terms of industry growth, job security and societal impact. So do whatever it takes to update your resume, develop new skills and morph into a Clean Techie.

Here is another event!

* Date: Monday, January 26, 2009

* Time: 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

* Location: The Commonwealth Club of California – 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor, SF, CA 94105

Additional info and attendee registration:

George and Ian, you are both right. Patience and Investing in oneself is the key. There are many folks who transitioned into IT in the late 1990s and I guess this will be a similar trend.

For those transitioning into the clean tech industry, we are putting together a series of Overview slides at I have aleady put together an Overview of Solar and I am looking for collaborators to work on other pieces of RE. The best way to learn is to do some teaching!

Ken Smith

There have been several recent reports about wind turbine manufacturers, developers, and related companies shedding jobs as a result of the financial downturn. Specifically, because of the lack of project financing orders are being canceled. But these 2008 numbers show that while the rest of the economy was shedding jobs, the renewable energy sector was actually growing when the financing was available for projects.

So we need more money from the stimulus package going to stimulate those sectors of the economy that were performing well, and reduce funding for sectors that got themselves in trouble. Investment in solar, wind and supporting technologies, and more importantly in the projects that are buying the equipment from the manufacturers will have the multiplier effect the Obama Administration is looking for. Certainly a lot more than another N billion to the banks for jets and office furniture.

Comments are closed for this post !!
Skip to toolbar