Due to lowering technology costs, public and private investments, and ethical pressure, the demand for green energy and corresponding jobs is rapidly increasing.

Hiring Trends to Know If You Want a Job in Alternative Energy
Hiring Trends to Know If You Want a Job in Alternative Energy

Maggie Potter

Working in the renewable energy industry can be rewarding and stable. Due to lowering technology costs, public and private investments, and ethical pressure, the demand for green energy and corresponding jobs is rapidly increasing. 

Over 777,000 people are employed in the renewable energy industry in the United States; this number is comparable to the amount of people working in telecommunications. As lawmakers debate further subsidies and mandatory moves to green energy, the private sector rushes to produce eco-friendly cars, commercially available solar panels and more. Entire cities hope to invest in greener energy initiatives, creating fantastic local job opportunities to those new and experienced in the industry. 


Alternative Energy Industry: A Background

Until around 150 years ago, the United States was primarily fueled by wood. Technically a renewable resource (as you can plant new trees), wood was replaced by fossil fuels and coal, which now make up about 80% of energy consumption in our country. As the environment is in crisis and fuel prices climb, Americans increasingly depend upon windpower and other forms of clean, renewable energy. Thanks to the Energy Policy Acts (2002, 2005), the climate change crisis and a congressional push for the Green New Deal, resources and opportunities in alternative energy is on the rise.

Considering the openings in this sector, it’s not unusual for new jobseekers or those in transition to consider a career in alternative energy. While you might be seen as entry level, a job hopper, or not worth training in other fields, alternative energy is new and companies in this area are accustomed to training people new to the industry. Additionally, they get subsidies for it. 

Whether you’re fresh out of high school or college or have lost a job in the coal industry, you’ll have some extra help and resources if you’re interested in going green. For every available job in coal and fossil fuels, there are now five in renewable energy, and retraining is common and encouraged. 


How Can You Enter the Alternative Energy Industry?

If you’re interested in a job in the alternative energy industry, it’s an optimal time to make your move. Alternative energy jobs encompass sales, marketing, manufacturing, engineering, lobbying, urban planning and development, and more. From managing an organization to designing and building wind turbines, there’s a place for just about everyone in this industry, and opportunity for rapid advancement is possible. 

When you begin applying for jobs in the alternative energy industry, you’ll need to update your resume. Employers and recruiters use automated tracking systems, also known as ATS. More than 90% of employers use ATS, and to overcome it, you’ll need to be familiar with keywords related to the alternative energy industry. If your resume doesn’t include certain keywords, it’s possible that your potential employer won’t even see it. That’s because the software filters resumes not matching keyword criteria into a slush pile. 

To make sure your resume stands out, you can optimize it by including keywords. If you’re new to the industry, put something in the mission statement about finding an opportunity in alternative energy. If you’re already in another type of energy-related role, focus on job skills that can translate. 

Here are some phrases you can specifically use to get through the ATS:

  • Alternative energy
  • Green energy
  • Renewable energy

You can add these keywords strategically in your job role descriptions, though some modern resume formats also have vertical skill set lists, providing you with an opportunity to include them. However you decide to include these keywords, ensure that they’re included in an organic way.


Reach Out to Recruiters in Renewable Energy

Don’t have alternative energy experience? Don’t be shy about applying. Head over to LinkedIn and make yourself a LinkedIn page. On your profile, express that you’re interested in learning more about the alternative energy industry. Alternative energy industry leaders such as EcoPlexus Inc. and Xcel Energy are worth looking into, but keep an eye out for mainstream companies (especially auto manufacturers) pushing green initiatives.

If you have experience in the nonprofit sector, it may translate well to an alternative energy charity.

Most green energy companies specifically recruit those trained in the coal industry or those completely new to green energy. Often, these opportunities coincide with tax breaks and state subsidies. If you hear of a new alternative energy production plant located near you (or if you’re willing to relocate), it’s advisable to contact the organizations directly. Using LinkedIn, you can locate people by industry, location, and/or company. Be proactive and open. 


Remain Agile and Willing to Learn

A willingness to learn new things is essential for getting a job in the alternative energy industry. Since the whole industry is relatively new, it’s vital to remember that everyone’s learning. Technology also advances rapidly, so all green energy industry employees must be able to learn as they go.

When tailoring your resume to alternative energy jobs or interviewing for this type of role, you can’t go wrong if you focus on your flexibility and your willingness to learn. Consider also mentioning your learning style in your interview: do you learn best by doing, by listening, or by reading? Do you like to train others? If you’re interested in mentoring, that’s also valuable. 

Once you’re through that interview phase, you’ll hopefully receive a letter of offer. This is standard in most industries, but especially common in instances of rapid hiring and deployment, such as a new green energy factory opening. This document tells you about the job, salary, benefits, and requirements, and asks you to commit, but it’s not a legal contract.

After you sign and return your offer letter, you’ll get an agreement, which is a specific, legal contract. In alternative energy, this is important: pay careful attention to your noncompete clause. Noncompete causes can legally prevent you from working for other energy companies, even years after your employment with your present company ends. 

If possible, have legal counsel look over your agreement before you sign. Remember, it’s always okay to ask for a few days with the paperwork as long as you communicate with your recruiter. 

To recap: ensure your resume will pass ATS, think about how your current experience (or newness to employment) can translate to the alternative energy industry, and don’t be afraid to be proactive with recruiters. Always remember to read employment documents carefully, and know the difference between employment agreements and offer letters.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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