When I first started interviewing for green building jobs, I was right out of college and intimidated by what seemed to be a massive and complicated industry. I had no idea what to expect. Luckily, my proven knowledge and passion of the industry helped me to navigate through those uncharted waters. However, looking back on my experience, these are the tips I wish someone had told me before my green building job interviews.
1. Learn the basics and get the latest green building news.
Of course, keeping up with the latest industry trends is the key to success in almost any field. However, since green building is a technology-heavy and rapidly growing industry, it’s even more important to have a solid understanding of the basics. Get a copy of the Free Beginner’s Guide to Green Building to read up on the basics of LEED and green building.
Another good way to stay up to date with the latest developments in the market is to quickly scan the latest green building news and follow Twitter feeds that focus on the green building/sustainability industry. See this list of 10 Eco-Friendly Twitter Feeds for Green Building Professionals for a good sample of who to follow.
Better yet, you can develop your own ideas regarding green building and sustainability. I recall an interview when I was asked, “If you could choose only ONE sustainability solution for New York City, what would it be?” A great way to start forming your own opinions – and prepare yourself for these thought-provoking questions – is by reading green blogs and op-ed columns. Reading opinions from authors with opposing viewpoints will help you to see where you stand and make you creatively think about green building solutions.
2. Familiarize yourself with LEED.
LEED is the most popular green building rating system in the United States and the fastest growing in the world.
Even if you are not already a LEED professional and have never worked on a LEED project, you may want to brush up on the LEED program before going into an interview for a green building job. Since LEED is a huge player in the future of the green building industry, employers will want to know that you’re familiar with its concepts.
Better yet, you can check the company’s website or LEED project database to see if your prospective employer has worked on any LEED buildings in the past.
If you are just starting out preparing for the green job market, consider earning the LEED Green Associate credential. See my post on how to pass the LEED Green Associate exam here.
3. Tune in to your passion.
From my personal experience, green professionals on the whole are incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about their careers. Many people choose to enter the green building industry because they are interested in bettering the world through sustainability or because they are fascinated by clean technology.
Employers will likely want to know that you share the same passion for green building and sustainability. For employers, passion translates to a natural desire to learn and perform beyond the scope of your job, which boosts your potential value to the company.
Start by writing a list of specific reasons why you want to work in the green building industry. Did childhood camping trips spark your quest to preserve nature? Did energy savings in your own home inspire you to help others do the same? Combine the items on your list to tell a compelling story about why you’re interested in the field.
4. Go to a green event.
Networking at a green event, such as a green building conference, can not only help you to find a new potential job opportunity, but can also clue you in to the type of conversations, ideas, and “buzz words” that are typical in the green building community. You could become more comfortable discussing green building topics and sharing your own ideas, which could prove useful in an interview.
Check out Greenbuild, the USGBC’s annual green building conference, which is largest of its kind in the world. Also, you can search Meetup or Green Drinks for green networking opportunities in your area.
5. Boost your online presence.
Boosting your online presence via helpful articles, blog posts or comments are a good way to demonstrate to employers that you are both knowledgeable and passionate because you not only provided helpful information on green building, but also used your spare time to do so.
For example, Poplar Network publishes original articles from LEED and green building professionals for free… While articles must be approved for quality and original content by Poplar Network to be published, it’s easy to submit. And articles that are published on Poplar Network can earn the author 3 LEED professionals continuing education hours. To submit an article for Poplar Network, read more here.
You may also want to join green building groups on LinkedIn and post in the forums. Many employers will look at your LinkedIn profile before or after an interview, and your membership and active participation in groups related to the industry can prove your interest in the field. Plus, like networking, this is a great way to get comfortable with the conversations and “buzz words” typical of the green building community.
A recent graduate of Cornell University, where she studied Environmental Science and concentrated in Sustainable Development. Her interest in green building and LEED stems from her project-based coursework at Cornell, where she proposed design strategies for sustainable developments in Helena, MT and Ithaca, NY. Claire also exercised her passion for sustainability and energy conservation through extracurricular activities at Cornell, such as Solar Decathlon, Lights Off Cornell and Sustainability Hub. For the last three summers, she worked on energy projects at a town government, including an on-site hydrogen station and EECBG-funded activities.