How to Transition to a Cleantech Career

How to Transition to a Cleantech Career

David Hunt 20/09/2018 4

Without doubt, one of the questions I'm asked most in messages on Linked In, in e-mails and from enquiries to our website is, 'How can I get a job in the cleantech sector?' People ask to meet me at trade shows to ask the same question, or for help to make the transition. Here are some thoughts.

Why do you want a job in Cleantech?

That might sound an easy one to answer. People would question your thinking if you want to start a career in Oil & Gas or diesel cars, and giving the direction of travel in energy and mobility, it seems obvious why someone would want to start their career, or transition to the cleantech sector. But dip below the obvious, and genuinely question yourself. WHY do you want to work in cleantech? There are many reasons, from the altruistic 'to make the world a better place', to the selfish, 'it's where the money is', and a million places in between. It is though important to know your own motivation, and to be honest with yourself, because that should inform the type of business and area of the market you are best suited to. Because companies are in the sector for that same range of reasons, and if you are focused on your income and career, that's fine, find a company with that culture. If you want to make the world a better place, find a company with that mission. Company culture, and a positive alignment, is critical for success for the company and candidate alike. Know your Why.

What type of company suits you best?

Just because it's cleantech doesn't mean it's the perfect career move for you. Cleantech companies come in all shapes and sizes. We work with $20billion companies, and pre-revenue start-ups. Clearly if you excel in an ordered, structured, clearly defined role and organisation, working in the chaotic, constantly changing world of a start-up isn't going to be a good place for you. Likewise if you thrive on chaos, and bringing order, then working for a corporate monster isn't for you. Identify where you are best suited, where you have had most success and been happiest in your career. Focus on cleantech companies with similar stature and culture.

What do you have to offer?

It's a fast paced and competitive world in business, and cleantech is no exception. If your CV and 'pitch' is full of platitudes and wishy-washy pseudo-babble, don't expect a huge response. The sector is moving at break neck speed, companies want to know what exactly can you do, have you done, and how can that benefit them. Saying you are 'a hard worker, a great leader and team player' in your CV is rather pointless. That should be the baseline. It's also not really measurable or useful of itself. I'm quite sure if you were lazy, but can prove you have consistently excelled in your work, delivering beyond expectations, and can prove it, you'll have plenty of takers! So analyse it, and be honest. What skills and experience do you have that you can prove (through verifiable statistics and references), that will have immediate value to a cleantech company in the area you want your career. Tangible, verifiable, providing value, it's about results you can prove, not platitudes and passion. Having passion for the sector is very important, but it won't get you a great job on its own. Be honest, be clear, have proof.

What are you prepared to sacrifice?

This comes back to looking at your 'why', and being honest. If you have a long career in Oil & Gas, or Automotive, and are good at your job, you will no doubt be well paid, well known and respected, and probably working for an established company with good perks. Your salary will be based on the value you have delivered and the knowledge and experience you have gained in your sector. If you change sector, no matter how good you are, your value decreases, because you don't have proven history, experience or in-depth knowledge of the sector. You may be lucky and not have to, but you should be prepared to step back to move forward, and you should sit down with your spouse or partner, if you have one, and analyse just what you can afford to sacrifice if push comes to shove. It may be the perfect job, but can you afford to take it. Not just the salary, but the pensions, cars and perks too.We all have a baseline of costs and needs, know what yours are, and what you are prepared to sacrifice if needed.

So before you push yourself out there, and get frustrated that you're not making progress, you need to know a few things.....

  • Know that it may not be easy or quick, companies will take previous experience if they can find it, and it does exist.
  • Know why you want to transition to cleantech, be honest about what motivates you.
  • Know what type of culture best suits you, and where you can deliver your best results.
  • Know what tangible skills, experiences and attributes you can prove you have, and that can add value to your new cleantech employer.
  • Know what you can afford to sacrifice, in advance of searching, know your bottom line.
  • Know that it is achievable, and it is an amazing sector to work in, and will be worth the effort (as long as you choose the right company for you!).

I hope that helps if you are thinking about making the change. Feel free to add comments, or ask questions below.

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  • Ryan Metcalfe

    Good advices

  • Paul O Sullivan

    This article is badly needed! I wish more people were interested in Cleantech.

  • Joe Kelly

    Possibly the best career advices you will ever get.

  • Gordon Smithers

    It's a great guidance and more than that an assurance to go for exploring career with big vision...

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David Hunt

Energy Expert

David Hunt is a prominent figure and thought leader in the clean energy sector. Hailed as a leading green entrepreneur by the Financial Times, David also presents at industry events such as EcoSummit, Energy Storage Europe and Fully Charged Live. David is a frequent contributor to trade publications such as Energy Storage News, Solar Power Portal, PV Tech, Clean Energy News and Smart Cities World. His industry insights have been quoted in UK broadsheet newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and the Sunday Times. Being well versed in business and economics, he has also lent his voice to the likes of BBC Radio Four and ITV’s 6 O’clock news. A cleantech expert and industry insider, David specialises in the clean energy and eMobility sectors. His drive to accelerate these growing markets led him to set up Hyperion Executive Search Ltd, a talent acquisition company specialising in the clean energy space that incisively places talent where it’s needed. Hyperion has been helping businesses grow and succeed since 2014 and recently expanded its operations in Europe with a new office in Munich. David’s headhunting team now operates across EMEA and the US. Before this, David co-founded an award-winning multi-technology renewable energy installation business, sat as a policy board member with the UK Renewable Energy Association, and was a member of PRASEG (Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group). The ‘This week in cleantech’ podcast is a platform for David and invited experts to share and review the biggest, and most interesting news stories in the cleantech sector each week, providing expert opinion, analysis and insight. It is anticipated that the podcast will be a catalyst for the further growth and development of the cleantech revolution.

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