Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Going Green Collar - Alternative Energy Careers in California

Lately I’ve heard a lot of clients say they’re interested in solar and related careers as an emerging industry, especially for those who are feeling the hit coming from construction-related industries. Although Obama promised to put a focus on alternative energy, the current economy is suggesting that perhaps 2009 may be a good time for planning for a move, but not making one just yet.

Emerging careers include solar installers, project managers, engineers, technicians, energy auditors, as well as a variety of administrative and sales positions within these sectors. So how do we plan for any kind of career move? We become educated, trained, and begin making contacts. Below are some local resources to begin making contacts that provide opportunities for professional development in the alternative energy and emerging technologies sectors.

EcoTuesdays -
Hosts informative and networking events on the 4th Tuesday of every month in both Silicon Valley and San Francisco

SD Forum -
Has many event focusing on emerging technologies, including those in the green

American Solar Energy Society (ASES) -
Extensive resources on the solar industry, including job board for research

Northern California Solar Energy Association -
ASES’s local chapter, based out of Berkeley

WorkIt! Networking Event Calendar -
A very comprehensive calendar of networking events and resources

CA Green Jobs Guidebook -
Includes many profiles of green collar careers, job training and apprenticeship programs (include FREE opportunities), and more from California’s Environmental Defense Fund

Before making a move, as with any other job search, make sure you research any potential employers carefully. You’ll want to know how long they’ve been in business, what contracts and projects they’ve been successful with in the past, and much, much more.

I would love to see people add to this list or offer further advice on “going green collar” – please comment!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some “Recession Proof” Industries

While pretty much every industry feels the pain of the economy, some stand to fare better than others. If you’re thinking of switching career paths, or have very transferable skills, here are some industries to keep an eye out for in your job search to plan for the tough times ahead:

Even when things are tough, people don’t stop breeding, and their children need to be educated. Same goes for adults who have a hard time finding work. Many people go back to school for further education to sharpen their skills and gain a competitive edge in such a highly aggressive job market. During poor economies many “stay-at-home” folks also return to the workforce because of financial reasons, leaving their kids needing care. There are many businesses within the education industry from daycares to colleges. There are multitudes of positions available ranging from bus drivers to administration to teaching to maintenance, and even self-employed tutors or nannies. Another bonus? In many institutions you and your family may be eligible for free or reduced tuition.

While people are cutting down their costs in many areas of their lives, we all still use gas, electricity, water, trash, and the likes. These aren’t going anywhere. Additionally, with shrinking entertainment budgets households are more likely to stay home and watch movies on cable and internet services. Keep an eye on renewable and other more cutting-edge forms of energy as well. Roles in customer service, management, administrative, training, skilled technical work, and more can be found.

While many governments have hiring freezes on currently, a variety of positions can still be found, more often in the state and federal arenas. Lets face it – when the government runs out of money they know where to get it – US! Not to mention the great benefits packages.

With the largest population group in the U.S. aging, and everyone under stress, healthcare and related careers are still there for the taking. It’s not only physicians who are keeping solid work – nurses, assistants, technicians, medical records techs, administrative staff, counselors, and homecare candidates are in demand.

In desperate times, people make desperate moves, which is why positions in the safety field stay solid. Positions within security, loss prevention, police, armored car drivers, alarm installers, and the military won’t be going anywhere. There are also related administrative roles.

Pipes will burst, cars need oil changes, and hair grows regardless of the economy. Vehicle technicians, beauty professionals, and other skilled trades can provide ongoing income if chosen carefully. Not only can you use these skills in your day job, but they’re also very useful in making money for yourself on the side, when additional earnings can be necessary.

Who’s the last person you’re likely to lay off? The one bringing in the money, especially if it’s a lot of money. If you’re the kind of person that can sell ice to an Eskimo, or can find an opportunity that involves selling products that people use regardless of finances, you’re likely to score a good gig with some companies desperate for the sales.

We live in a world where we borrow more than we can afford and pay for too many things on credit, making loans and debt collection a solid field. Collections reps, loan processors, financial counselors, and debt managers can find salvage in other’s misfortunes.


When profits are low companies seek to manage their finances carefully, and constantly seek new opportunity for savings and tax write-offs. This financial scrutiny can benefit those in the accounting and bookkeeping fields who do the checks and balances.

10.) PETS
Our little lovable creatures still eat and get sick regardless of how pinched our budgets are. Veterinarians, pet stores, and related products/companies will still make it through.

While working in any of these industries doesn’t assure you job security, just as finding an opening doesn’t assure you’ll get to the top of the thick application pile, it’s a good start on what to keep your eyes open for while planning for the future. But I will pick up on the topics of how to keep your job and how to get your application to come to the top of that pile on another day. Talk to you soon!