Archive for the ‘green careers’ Category
If there was one thing that stood out from Vault’s recent Job Hunting in CSR series, it was the disconnect between candidates and employers. A recent survey by Towers Watson further indicates that this disconnect might be much more widespread because of a difference in priorities for employers and employees.
A survey released by TalentDrive, the team behind online resume aggregation search engine TalentFilter, now adds yet another layer to the troubling scenario. The report suggests a widening gap between current employers’ expectations and job seekers’ actual skill sets.
In a month-long survey, 79,000 job seekers (86 percent actively seeking employment) were asked to assess their personal skill set and attitude toward the current job market. Additionally, 20,000 hiring managers from Fortune 1000 companies were asked if they had noticed a change in the quality of candidates since the recession’s start.
The results of the survey are unnerving:
Almost three-quarters of the job seekers surveyed were pessimistic about their career search: that’s the number of respondents who indicated that they possessed the required skill set for positions, but were not getting hired. Little wonder, then, that 37 percent of respondents expressed no hope that things would improve.
However, 42 percent of the employers surveyed indicated that the recession had not only increased the quantity of candidates, but that they were finding more qualified candidates than in years past.
So where is the disconnect? When candidates believe they possess the required skill sets, why are they not getting hired? Take into account that 67 percent of those surveyed reported having between one and five interviews per month since the beginning of their job search, and that 75 percent of those had not received a single job offer.
Specialization or general business skills?
Could the disconnect come down to a question of specialized vs. general business skills? According to the report, 71% percent of HR representatives reported that more than half of their open positions were specialized.
Comparatively, 61% of the job seekers’ group considered themselves to be “professionals with broad skill sets.”
Interestingly, my interviews with MBA graduates Ashley Jablow and Geet Singh reveal a flipside to the specialization picture. Having focused on CSR and sustainability at business school, both Jablow and Singh confessed that their job hunts weren’t exactly working out to be walks in the park. However, in their case, partial blame goes to a lack of demand for CSR work. For the respondents of the TalentDrive survey, specialized skills leaned toward more traditional fields like IT and technology.
Job Search Destinations
If there is one area where the TalentDrive survey shows job seekers and employers in agreement, it is where they are finding each other. The winner: Social Media.
An overwhelming 74% of job seekers said the most beneficial job search method was posting a resume on job boards followed by 27% picking social media, for the first time surpassing traditional methods like classified ads, professional recruiters and networking events.
Agreement was mutual with 27% of employers saying the highest response for most effective search method was social networks, followed by resume sourcing technologies.
For the types of positions your company fills, what skills/activities make an applicant stand out?
Differs for each position: 55%
Longevity with past employers: 21%
Advanced degrees/MBA: 5%
Extracurricular work/Volunteer work: 3%
What category would the majority of your open positions fall under?
Mid level/management positions: 67%
Entry level: 16%
Director/Executive positions: 14%
Since beginning your active job search, how many interviews have resulted in an offer?
No offers: 75%
Less than half: 21%
More than half: 3%
All interviews resulted in an offer: 1%
Given the current job market, how willing are you to transfer fields or change your skill set to adapt to a new work environment or industry?
Not willing or interested: 11%
Somewhat willing, depending on the opportunity: 44%
Very willing: 45%
On June 8th and 9th some of the world’s leading experts on innovation gathered at the Nokia Theater in New York City for the 2010 World Innovation Forum (Twitter hashtag #WIF10).
The list of speakers was impressive, and WIF10 blogger Stu Miniman wrote an excellent post summarizing the speakers and their backgrounds.
I also attended the conference (as a blogger) and wrote about my motivations for attending in an introductory blog post. My hope was to hear some of the latest trends and techniques for innovation at large corporations.
For those of you interested in pursuing a career in innovation, I’ve created the following list of advice, with links to the speakers included. Keep in mind that my definition of innovation is “innovation = idea + implementation”, with a strong emphasis on the implementation piece (how to build and deliver new ideas).
Here is a summary of the career advice presented at the conference:
- Innovation is not limited to engineers. Bringing great ideas to market can best happen when every person in the process becomes a designer. Whether your job is engineering, customer support, testing, or marketing, every stage of the process requires people using strong design skills. This advice was given by one of the top technology designers in the world: Robert Brunner.
- When it comes to finding innovative jobs, the place to go looking is for corporations that are producing green (or sustainable) products and services. Corporations are looking for individuals that can generate (and deliver) energy-saving and environmentally-friendly ideas. Joel Makower highlighted several such corporations in his talk, including Coke, Waste Management, and UPS.
- Ursula Burns of Xerox related that employees who know how to “dream with customers” are highly valued. The best source of ideas is often birthed through conversations with customers about their needs.
- The most valued employees of the current decade will be artisans, and the most successful companies of the current decade will be the businesses that allow their employees the freedom to innovate. Seth Godin encouraged employees to take risks in their job by morphing their work habits to be more artistic: give gifts, do work that matters, and make a difference.
- One of the more critical innovation skills for an employee is the ability to be a change agent. Chip Heath described the psychology of change and presented some steps for introducing change into an organization.
- One of the final pieces of advice for an employee was given by Andreas Weigend. Andreas claimed that the most successful businesses will be those companies that know how to leverage communities of people (and the data that they create). It is critical for employees to involve themselves in social media and social media data mining.
Health care and education were also discussed as critical areas needing continued innovation focus (excellent career opportunities). For more information on these areas, refer to Michael Howe’s discussion of the rise of MinuteClinic, and Wendy Kopp’s presentation on Teach for America.
Read more tech career advice from Steve his Vault blog: Innovate with Influence
Extra Insight: Check out Vault’s coverage from the World Innovation Forum
What themes do you expect to emerge when you gather a bunch of leading businesspeople and experts on innovation and organizational change, and have them present their thoughts in a two-day conference in New York City?
Bonus point if you guessed innovation as a theme, but only because I haven’t yet revealed the name of the conference: The World Innovation Forum. As such, presenters were long on how cultures of innovation can be fostered and nurtured within companies, and very specific in underlining the point that companies that fail to innovate today will fail to thrive in coming years.
Up until the second day of the conference, most of the talk around innovation concerned the how of the subject. If the why was mentioned at all, it was usually couched in terms of general benefit: it’s good for your company’s bottom line; it’s good for your career; it’ll help you keep up with—or stay ahead of—your competitors.
Towards the middle of the second and final day, however, the tone shifted markedly, with three consecutive speakers laying out one of the biggest challenges requiring innovation today, and making it strikingly clear what was at stake. The challenge: sustainability and corporate responsibility. Tackling it were green expert Joel Makower, Seventh Generation founder and CEO Jeffrey Hollender, and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns.
The middle speaker of the three, it was Makower who really summed up the position we’re at in terms of the progression the green concept has made in the corporate world. Companies are at the stage where green practices are creating value for them, he said, having passed through two prior phases: the phase of “first do no harm,” where companies simply sought to not cause problems; and the phase of “doing well by doing good,” where corporate responsibility was seen as something nice to attain, but more of a luxury than a means of generating revenue.
Despite speaking before Makower, Ursula Burns proved his key point by demonstrating that Xerox is creating value from green. Her definition of innovating towards a sustainable future is to “take something that’s needed […] and innovate it to use less than in the past.” While that may seem like a strange message from the leader of a company that essentially thrives on consumables—and particularly on usage of paper—Burns stressed that companies cannot afford to ignore what the marketplace is demanding. Accordingly, the company has developed a paper that erases itself so it can be reused, and has invested heavily in solid ink technology, which Xerox’s website claims produces 90 percent less waste than a typical color laser product.
Jeffrey Hollender’s presentation also centered on the idea of reducing waste—a concept that is at the heart of his company and his recent book, The Responsibility Revolution. Expressing his frustration at not being able to reduce Seventh Generation’s footprint more than he has—while better than many, he said the company “is not what I would call good”—he came back to the idea that culture sets the tone for what companies can achieve. Pointing to the recent travails of Goldman Sachs and BP, he suggested that those companies’ problems are at heart to do with culture: “sustainability and green is about company culture,” he said, with a crucial component of that culture being a willingness by executives to listen to their employees and consumers—something that he felt was likely lacking in the cultures at Goldman and BP.
All told, while each of the three speakers covered slightly different ground, the common message in what they had to say suggests that the future of business could be one in which the most successful companies are the ones that manage to create products that fulfil the needs of a changing, more eco-conscious marketplace.
Or, as Hollender suggested “we won’t have businesses that begin to meet the challenges of the society that we live in” until sustainability and CSR is embedded at the heart of corporate strategy, and drives all of the decision making.
Next month, the Center for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) will complete five years of conducting sustainability seminars and certifying CSR practitioners. The two-day seminar historically have always been filled with useful workshops, individual presentations from practitioners, many debates and rich discussions surrounding the aspects of corporate responsibility and sustainability.
Last year, I attended one of CSE’s workshops and came back certified as a CSR practitioner as well as armed with much-needed clarified information on the issue. This workshop, which is conducted by CSE and approved by international think tank, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), attracts executives every year from a range of industries. For example, my session last year had a diverse group including representatives from consulting firms, consumer products manufacturers, lawyers, policy regulators, professors, scientists as well as HR specialists and a pilot from an international airline.
If you are seeking a broad overview of CSR this workshop is highly recommended. Besides theoretical concepts and key guidelines, the forum gives you an opportunity to network with other CSR-minded professionals across industries. This networking and sharing of ideas and more so, learning from what they are doing in this growing field, can prove immensely helpful in carving your career in CSR and green issues.
What is even better is that this year for the first time, in collaboration with Vault and In Good Company, CSE is offering an exclusive discount to our readers. Just make sure to mention “VAULT” during the registration process and you will be able to shave 25% off the fee!
For complete details, including registration process as well as first-person perspectives from last year’s workshop, visit Vault’s CSR Blog: In Good Company.
In terms of hiring news, the best was kept until last this week: Friday saw the announcement that the economy added 290,000 jobs in April. Unfortunately, that was accompanied by a rise in the official unemployment rate—it went up from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent—as more people actively began searching for work again.
That wasn’t the only good news this week, however. In fact, aside from concerns over the fate of various European economies and their potential for weighing down a recovery, most of the news that emerged this week was remarkably positive. As you’ll see below:
- Imagine the U.S. workforce is a lemon, and you want to use it to make lemonade. What happens when you’ve squeezed it as hard as you can, there’s no juice left, and you’re still thirsty? That’s right: you need more lemons. That tortured analogy, ladies and gentlemen, is by way of introducing another good piece of news: productivity growth is maxed out. Which means the only way companies are going to grow is to hire.
- Xerox-owned Affiliated Computer Services is opening a call center in Oklahoma City. Number of hires: 500.
- The second-biggest airline story of the week: Delta is set to begin hiring 240 pilots.
- Facebook is taking over the world. Well, kind of: In addition to “previously announced plans to open offices in Austin, Texas, and in India”—not to mention “building a data center in central Oregon”—everyone’s favorite friend-finding website is opening an office in Seattle, which will likely employ up to 30 software engineers.
- Want more evidence of an economic swing? How’s this: Employers are planning less layoffs than at any time in the last 4 years.
- Solar manufacturer SolarWorld is hiring 350 workers in Hillsboro, Oregon, as it expands its factory operations.”
- UBS is hiring. Lots. The Swiss bank “is now looking to bring in hundreds of new bankers and traders across its international operations, including London, as confidence returns.” View UBS’ profile on Vault.
- MTV News needs a writer. Actually, make that a writer/reporter.
- GE announced another 220 jobs in Michigan, bringing its total planned hires in the state to 1,300 over the next five years.
- ICICI Bank will hire 5,000 to 7,000. This year. In India. It’s also adding branches and ATMs.
- Got a boat? Live anywhere near the Louisiana shoreline? Head out this Sunday and you could be taking home “$38 to $48 an hour” cleaning up oil.
- Nationwide Insurance is hiring 1,400 nationwide.
- Great news if you’re in (or would like to be in) Ohio: Not only is The Home Depot hiring 300 associates for a new distribution center in Van Buren, OH, Nationwide Insurance is hiring in the state as well. Of 1,400 nationwide openings, some 600 of the positions are in the Buckeye State.