Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

CSR Job Postings Up; More Opportunities for Senior Executives

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If a job in the wide sphere of corporate social responsibility is what delights you, there might be some good news on the horizon. It’s been over a year of cost-cutting, when jobs that had “CSR or the like” in their titles were among the first to be eliminated. Initiatives were hunkered down and sustainability execs took to networking heavily, freelancing consulting projects and seeking out smaller, but greener (ecologically!), outfits for work.

That was 2009 and some of 2008. Now things seem to be, ever so slowly, picking up. A well-analyzed jobs report by Sustainability Recruiting, titled: “The State of the CSR Job Market: Key Findings and Trends“, which compared 819 job postings between 2004 and 2009 by title, shows a 33% uptick in job postings for the last quarter of 2009. This is after successive drops of 61% in 2008 and 68% in 2009, excluding the fourth quarter.

While restricted to findings from the Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) CSR Jobs page, the findings are telling for the career field called CSR. Rewind a couple of years ago and CSR was not even a well-searched job field, let alone the buzzword it has become today for students as well as professionals. Another key indicator from the study: CSR is maturing, in that, while overall job postings declined, posts for VP and Directors increased. From the report: “CSR positions are becoming more senior-level, based on analysis of titles. Over the past 2 years, there has been an uptick in postings with Director and Vice President titles. VP titles were not used in postings until 2006.

The report also attempts to distinguish between three types of CSR employers, an important distinction for as nascent a field as social responsibility. This differentiation has its benefits for understanding the job market as well as figuring out where you see yourself best suited. A quick summary of these:

1) Internal: This includes global corporations that usually prefer to fill new positions like CSR internally. This has its merits and demerits. You’re building on the individual’s training and knowledge of the business, but not necessarily gaining CSR-specific expertise. There is also the danger of falling into the trap of greenwashing. I discussed this trend earlier this year, where I cited the handful of companies that are responding to stakeholder demand by instituting eco-officers or chief sustainability officers–all internal transfers.

2) Services: This category would include consultants, thought groups and advocacy organizations, usually member-based. Especially for consulting, last year saw a huge uptick for environmental work, with California reporting that green jobs grew by 5% while overall jobs declined by 1% and further, that environmental consulting made up 45% of all green employment.

3) Independent: These are by far the most popular. This category would include NGOs, non profits, research organizations, and benchmarking firms like RiskMetrics. Public sector entities like the World Bank would also fall under this employer type.

And if you are interested in seeing which employers hired the most number of candidates for CSR-related jobs (also referred to as corporate sustainability, corporate responsibility, sustainability, green officers, etc.), take a look below.

The report also goes on to divide the jobs by city, region, domestic and international, as well as a comparison of actual titles, i.e., CSR vs. sustainability, etc, and recommendations for job seekers. Read the complete report at SustainabilityRecruiting.com. Got something to add or ask? Leave a comment or follow us on Twitter @VaultCSR!

For more CSR-related career advice and job trends, visit In Good Company!

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