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August 3rd, 2009

Bright Green Talent in the SF Chronicle: Tough Job Market for Recent Grads

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This past Sunday, our new marketing intern Dana and I were featured in the Business section of the SF Chronicle in an article called Tough Job Market Requires that Grads Adjust.

The article is copied below, but I’d suggest you also check out the comments. Clearly, the job market is a hot topic – the comments range from fiery to frustrated to constructive. Lots of people suggested that recent graduates who are having trouble finding a job go start their own business. While I do know several friends who’ve been laid off and started in on their own projects, some of the same problems persist: recent grads’ networks aren’t as strong for funding and business support, they have a tougher time convincing investors they’re serious, and they don’t have the savings to back up the ventures on their own.

What this article is really about, then, is bootstrapping — that recent graduates are having to come up with creative ways to stay afloat and to pursue what they’re passionate about. That might mean working for free 3 days a week while supplementing with a restaurant or childcare job; it might mean working nights on getting a business up and running; or it might mean going back to school to get some more targeted experience.

For some of our job advice for recent grads, click here.

Tough job market requires that graduates adjust

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stanford graduate John Dryden didn’t have a job lined up before he got his diploma in June, but in this economy he feels lucky to have been offered a contract post.

“I look at it as a case where the glass is half full,” said Dryden, 22, a business major who had an internship last summer that, in better times, would have led to a job.

“The company has a hiring freeze but they’re still interested in bringing me back in the fall, not as a full-time employee with benefits but as a contractor,” Dryden said, adding, “I feel very fortunate.”

Young people nationwide are being forced to adjust their expectations and try new tactics as recent college graduates face the toughest job hunt in decades.

“The current situation compares to the early 1980s, which was also an extremely difficult job market for college graduates,” said Edwin Koc, research director for the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The association regularly surveys the nation’s largest employers about their plans to hire graduating seniors.

“Typically we have a positive story with an annual increase in the number of hires,” Koc said. “But when we asked employers what they expected to hire from this graduating class relative to last year, it was down 22 percent.”

The association also asked a sample of this year’s 1.6 million college seniors about their employment prospects and discovered a sharp drop from a prior poll.

“In 2007 when we surveyed students, over 50 percent of the class had a job offer before graduation,” Koc said. “This year it was 19.7 percent.”

Desiree Fabunan, 23, is one of those who beat the odds by getting a job with AT&T’s Western Region headquarters in San Ramon before graduating from Stanford in June.

“A lot of people were down in the dumps,” Fabunan said, recalling the mood on campus. “Back in January, people were really panicking because you know that at Stanford so many of the grads that had come before you had jobs by that time.”

Dana Lin, a recent college graduate who lives in Mountain View, said employers in this market are demanding more than a degree.

“Many jobs call for three or four or five years of work experience,” said Lin, 22, who earned her undergraduate degree in business from Cornell University in 2008.

April layoff

Back then, when the college job market was still strong, she got a marketing position with a Silicon Valley software firm. But she was laid off in April. To bolster her brief work experience, Lin is doing a part-time, unpaid internship with the San Francisco startup Bright Green Talent, a recruiting and staffing agency for the sustainable energy industry.

“We did not have much of a problem taking these internships when we were in college,” Lin said. “It allows me to learn new things in new areas.”

At Bright Green Talent, Lin works with full-time employee Carolyn Mansfield, a 2008 Stanford graduate who found that, even then, her anthropology degree didn’t impress employers. She also worked for free to gain experience, first as an unpaid media intern for the Sierra Club and later at Bright Green Talent, which hired her after a two-month trial period.

“It’s about getting your foot in the door and letting employers see your work ethic and how you perform on the job,” Mansfield said.

But while young college graduates face a tough job market now, long-term trends work in their favor.

“Many employers can forecast a large number of retirements coming up in the next three to five years,” said Tom Devlin, career center director at UC Berkeley.

Positions will open

Koc, the employment expert, said this retirement trend means positions will open up for young college graduates once the recession ends even if the recovery is too weak to create job growth.

But at the moment the circumstances are less favorable.

“Opportunities that may have been there in the past have not been as plentiful for our graduating class,” said Dryden, the Stanford alumnus.

E-mail Tom Abate at

This article appeared on page D – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


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July 13th, 2009

More Insight from Net Impact

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From Net Impact SF’s site, in regards to last week’s green jobs event:



What a success! Last night we had over 60 RSVP’s and 2 great speakers that left the crowd in an upbeat and hopeful mood. Leonard Adler of Green Jobs Network and Christina Gilyutin of Bright Green Talent were there to assure us that there are jobs out there…we just need the right tools and strategies to sniff them out!

You’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it! People like you!

The burden of finding a job is not only like dating with its many high expectations and low results, but many of us feel like we need therapy just to get through it! How many resumes do we have to send into oblivion via Craigslist/Career Builder/Hot Jobs/Monster before we get a break? According to Christina Gilyutin, Director of Development and Chief Career Counselor for Bright Green Talent, we need to stay positive and remember that we are smart and talented, we just need to find strategies so that we are seen. Leonard and Christina helped the crowd to stay positive with some inspiring tips on finding a job.

Tips on how to be noticed: Networking

  • Volunteer to meet people or become a leader of a group, this not only helps you to meet new people, but it shows that you have initiative
  • Join affinity groups such as Green Jobs Network (, Net Impact ( or SF Green Drinks ( which all serve to surrounded you with people who have similar interests
  • At networking/social events, TALK TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE
  • Comments from the crowd included using your every day activities as an opportunity to tell people about your interests, you never know who you’ll meet!
  • Another suggestion from the audience was to organize dinners with friends and acquaintances who have similar/related career interests
  • A Net Impact leader mentioned that he found his job by talking to people in his field of interest as a peer, which resulted in a job! Confidence pays! He continued to say that if you’re looking for a job in sustainability, you need to find a 3rd vector to define your niche. Green + Business isn’t specific enough. Are you into design, procurement, logistics, materials science, …? The more specific the better.
  • Be a connector! Link people to others, they will likely return the favor!

Get Strategic! Leonard Adler of Green Jobs Network highlighted 3 points for us to remember:

  • Follow the Venture Capitalists! They might want to fund your idea!
  • Follow the money! Where is the government funneling money right now? To Green projects! Find out what kind of projects and to which companies the funds are going.
  • Follow the law! What laws have been passed recently? How does this legal change relate to my industry of interest?

Online Tips:

Spend only 10-20% of your time online for your job search and use the rest of that time giving your elevator pitch to new networks. While job boards are great, try to find job boards with a clear focus on your industry of interest such as There are a lot of Green job boards out there! General job boards can be more competitive due to their high amount of traffic and tendency to cover a broad number of industries. Also, try your old university’s job board, they often post jobs for alumni.

Need help with your resume?

Did you know about the Job Forum? The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce holds an event every Wednesday evening (6:30 to 8:30) called the Job Forum where they provide feedback on resume writing and give advice on job hunting

What if I don’t have experience?

Try interning, its not just for the 20-somethings! If you don’t like that idea, try volunteering. Many businesses would love to have you work without paying while you gain valuable experience.

Seek Professional Help!

To learn more about Bright Green Talent’s Career Counseling Services, please visit


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July 9th, 2009

Wisdom of the Net Impact Crowd

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Penned by Carolyn

Last night, Christina (our career coach extraordinaire) spoke at the San Francisco Net Impact monthly chapter meeting, which was focused around green jobs. Leonard Adler, head of, organized the event and provided some really valuable insight as well — videos to come soon.

Probably the most interesting element of the event for us was the 20 minutes that the audience spent sharing their own tips, success stories, and warnings about searching for a job. Some really amazing insight was put out there, and we wanted to share some of their thoughts on staying positive and effective while you’re unemployed or jobseeking:

  • If you’re unemployed, keep a schedule. Whether it’s walking your dog each day, going to the grocery store, keeping an active calendar of networking events, you can keep structure and motivation by sticking to a daily schedule.
  • Seeking out volunteer leadership roles will give others a chance to see how you work and be able to recommend you based on work ethic, organization and other elements that might not come through when you apply or interview for a position.
  • Networking is a two-way street: keep helping others by connecting acquaintances with similar interests or recommending other jobseekers for roles you know are open. Keeping this up whether you’re jobseeking or not is empowering and will keep your network connected and active.
  • Get out in front of people. Jobseeking can make you spend a lot of time alone, and you can fall out of practice in terms of presenting yourself and your spiel. The more you interact with others, the better you’ll do when you eventually have to present yourself in an interview.
  • It’s never too late to take an internship, especially if you need to gather skills to move into a new sector.
  • Whenever you reach out to people you don’t know or peripherally know, do it thoughtfully. Find your common interests, point out your shared connections, or remark on something that’s happening in their company or industry. Not doing so is wasting a big opportunity to connect on an emotional, social level.
  • Find free jobseeker support services — such as the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s weekly Job Forum.
  • Don’t forget the basics. Applying for a green job is still applying for a job: make sure there are no spelling, grammar, or other basic mistakes in your resume. Tailor each resume and cover letter to the particular role.

Thanks to Julie and Adam Menter and the rest of the SF Net Impact Professional Chapter for organizing the event. Like many chapters across the country, the group hosts monthly meetings for its members with interesting speakers and opportunities to meet people working for social responsibility in business. Learn more about Net Impact and join at

More photos on our Flickr feed.


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July 7th, 2009

Put Your Resume to Good Use: Help Educate Kids in Madagascar

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Malagasy Students

For every 50 new resumes registered on our site before September 1, we will fund the education of a child in Madagascar for one year.

At the end of 2008, Bright Green Talent quietly made a donation to a Malagasy school to help put a child through education for one year for every placement we’ve made. And now, we want to more people involved. This month, we’re launching a new campaign to turn our goals into action:

At Bright Green Talent, we’re always looking for ways to spread our social and environmental aims beyond the impact we can make just by placing two, ten or a hundred people into jobs. We recognize the need to ensure that we provide ‘Talent for a Bright Green Future’ at each and every turn – not just in London or San Francisco, but in Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond. And we believe strongly in “paying it forward” – helping others so that the favor can eventually come back around as we all strive towards meaningful livelihood in a cleaner future.

Why Madagascar?

One of our co-founders, Tom, also founded Blue Ventures, an award-winning organization working in Madagascar, and in light of his experience and the recent political troubles in Madagascar, we were compelled to contribute to creating a sustainable future for these children. Bright Green Talent’s donation provides scholarships to help finance a teacher, food and accommodation for children from surrounding villages so they can study in Andavadoaka (many villages don’t have a school).

Why scholarships?

As Blue Ventures says, ‘these donations are vital to help educate the next generation of people living and working to protect the surrounding fragile coastal ecosystems in which they rely for their livelihoods. Without these donations many of these children would not receive any formal education.’

Education – both about environmental issues and to promote economic security and development – is key to promoting stewardship of the world’s natural resources. The actions of every single person around the world count.

Why send your resume to us?

Our aim – to collect resumes – is evidently not just about Madagascar: we’re readying ourselves for the wave of green jobs mounting on the horizon, and we want to have a willing green workforce so that we can help companies quickly find the right person to grow out their sustainability initiatives. In the meantime, we’ll continue to provide resources, opportunities, and coaching to help prepare you as those jobs become available. And don’t fear – we never, ever pass on resumes without approval from our candidates.

So by registering your resume with us, you open yourself to new positions without any drawbacks — and you help spread education, knowledge, and stewardship around the world.

Thanks for spreading this note far and wide to help us help people around the world find a more meaningful, sustainable livelihood.

If you’ve already registered with Bright Green Talent, but would like to contribute directly to help these children, please click here.


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May 26th, 2009

Follow up Thoughts on "Why Your Resume is Getting Passed Over When You Apply Online"

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Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

I’ve gotten some great feedback and questions in response to the post on 3 Reasons Why Your Resume is Being Passed Over When You Apply Online.

In response to the questions we’ve received, here’s a closer look:

Is it preferred and OK to attached the cover letter as the first page of the resume?

Yes and no. To qualify what I wrote last time (that you should put your cover letter into the body of your email), I would do so and then attach a copy of your cover letter below your resume, as the second attachment. That way it will also go on to your automatic file (depending on the back-end system the company is using).

As for combining the two documents, avoid it at all costs. It’s cumbersome, and where employers are making quick judgments based on a glance at your resume, having to scroll past a 1pg cover letter may be just enough of an annoyance for them to overlook your application entirely.

Is it an acceptable format to convert the Word document into a PDF when asked to include an attachment?

PDF certainly looks cleaner and you can make sure the formatting won’t get screwed up when someone opens your resume with a different version of Word.

My only hesitation is that some back-end systems have trouble parsing PDFs correctly, or creating “previews” of these documents for the recruiter to easily glance at. However, if a company or recruiter prefers one type of file to the other, they’ll probably specify, so just read the instructions and do what seems appropriate.

What if you’ve been heeding these recommendations since day 1 and you still never get any job interviews?

Unfortunately, following these guidelines for submission of your resume doesn’t necessarily mean that the content of your resume is what the company or recruiter is looking for – it just makes the resume and application more likely to be read and properly judged.

As for content of your resume and formatting, check out the Jobseekers section on our site for tips and guides.

Have more questions? Post them here and we’ll respond.


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May 19th, 2009

"Can You BELIEVE This Guy?": Thoughts on the Importance of E-mail Etiquette

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Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

There’s been a fair amount of news and public service announcements recently about kids and cyber-bullying – the basic concept being that kids will say things online that they would never say to a friend or peer in person.

This phenomenon unfortunately sometimes applies to adults as well. In your jobsearch especially, e-mail etiquette is just as important as phone etiquette, the way you’d speak to someone in person, or how you’d present yourself in a cover letter.

We’ve had several cases recently of finding people we were excited about putting forward for a job… and then we received an email from them that was rude, out of line, or just so strange that we had to reconsider whether we really wanted to support that candidate.

A golden rule of online jobsearching and interaction: you’re still dealing with PEOPLE. There is a real person – with feelings, and an ego, and their own personality – on the other end of the communications you send out.

Think to yourself – If you met the recruiter or hiring manager in person, would you still communicate in the same way as you do on email? Make the same claims? Use the same tone? Be as pushy?

There is a thin line between assertiveness and aggressiveness that is even harder to walk in the online space. While we’re not telling you to be too meek or passive, it’s better to err on the side of politeness than rub someone the wrong way and get blackballed altogether by the company.


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May 6th, 2009

3 Reasons Your Resume is Getting Passed Over When You Apply Online



Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

As impersonal, anonymous and frustrating as it feels to apply for jobs online, most companies can only process resumes that come in this way.

Hence, here are three reasons your resume might be getting passed over, and how to fight back:

  1. The mistake: Your cover letter is an attachment. The remedy: If you’re applying by email, copy and paste your cover letter into the body of an email rather than having it as a separate document. Not only is it more likely to be read, but some automated resume systems will just grab the first attachment on your email and parse that — so you want to make sure it’s your resume that’s making it into the system. Check out our Greenhouse for “Do’s and Don’ts of Cover Letters” as well as some samples to work from.
  2. The mistake: Your email address is ridiculous. It’s cool if your email address that you use with friends is “sk8rrrgurl1331″ or “babysealclubber” (and yes, we’ve seen that username), but when we receive applications from these types of addresses, it’s hard to take the person seriously as a candidate. The remedy: If you need to, create a more serious email address to use for job applications.
  3. The mistake: the title of your resume or cover letter document is ridiculous or irrelevant, a la “MansfieldResume_EDITEDVERSION4 5-5-09.doc,” “BEST CANDIDATE FOR THE JOB MANSFIELD RESUME.doc,” or worse, “Mansfield Generic Resume.doc.” As for your cover letter, make sure it’s not “Mansfield Generic Cover Letter.doc”… you might as well title it “I took less than 2 minutes to consider and apply for this job.” If you obviously don’t care about the position, the hiring manager isn’t going to waste their time reading your resume. The remedy: You ARE tailoring your resume and cover letter to each position you’re applying to, right? Make sure the title reflects that – such as “Mansfield Bright Green Resume” or “Mansfield Cover Letter – Bright Green Talent.” Getting your name in there is important, too, so people can pull your resume back up easily.

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April 29th, 2009

Know Thy Thesis

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This is the first of our guest blogging series. If you have thoughts to share on seeking a green job, send a sample piece of 500 words or less to speakout[at]

Penned by Thomas Ramsson

Having recently graduated with a ‘green’ MSc earlier this year, I had to watch 40% of my office be made redundant in March. I had looked forward to a full-time position with the multi-disciplinary consultancy I worked for during my studies, but instead I was told that the company couldn’t take me on full-time, and they could only extend my existing, part-time contract for one more month.

Instead of being grief stricken, I took comfort in that I had been networking for months, had established strong contacts, and had already been interviewing elsewhere. You see, I had a great boss who forewarned me to get job-hunting a few months earlier.

But it wasn’t just having a nice boss tipping me off that got me job seeking. In hindsight, I did a few things revolving around my thesis that secured me work in green business. So here are my tips to you:

At University:

1. Choose a relevant thesis topic; speak to professionals in industry for suggestions.

2. Use the skills employers are looking for in the research (I used whole life cost analysis, cost/benefit analysis, and carbon footprinting).

3. Ask a few companies if you can partner with them for advice in exchange for permission to link your research to their projects (subject to IP restrictions).

At the Interview:

4. Be ready to discuss your thesis topic extensively during interviews (I interviewed for my current job just a week after my viva).

5. Be ready to discuss your motivation for your thesis topic and for a career in the green sector. Better answers than “Prevent global warming” are required.

Instead of being a distraction during your job search, preparing your thesis should be your job search.


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April 13th, 2009

My LinkedIn Manifesto for Successful Jobseeking

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Carolyn HeadshotPenned by Carolyn

Okay, you’re more or less set up on LinkedIn? Good.

Before diving into specifically how to use LinkedIn (next week and beyond), I want you to step back and think about your frame of mind as you use it.

Following Michael Pollan’s advice on what to eat (“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”), I put forth my own LinkedIn manifesto: Be open, not too open, and choose quality over quantity.

And putting a few disclaimers first:
- Some people disagree with me on the quality over quantity point. I’m going on what I’ve personally seen be effective in my almost-year at BGT.
- Everyone uses LinkedIn for the own purposes (business partnerships, advertising, jobseeking, etc), and will have different takes on what’s useful for those aims. I’m focusing on jobseeking.

Be open:
Yes, make sure you’re marked as “Interested in Career Opportunities,” have a public profile, a photo, a completed profile, etc. (See LinkedIn’s own tips on jobsearching through the site).

Not too open:
Know someone whose LinkedIn name looks like this? “Bob Smith BOB.SMITH@GMAIL.COM OPEN TO ALL CONNECTIONS”

These people make me shudder for a couple reasons: they look desperate, and they look like they don’t have a clear idea of what they’re looking for. If you want to connect with people you don’t know, they have to see the value in connecting with you. The age-old dating rule applies: while you need to be open and accessible, do play a little bit hard to get.

Drop the CAPS lock, the exclamation points. asterisks, etc. Your resume and experience should be able to market you. If they don’t, spend your time getting some experience instead of adding Wingdings to your profile.

Choose quality over quantity:

To me, flags are raised when people have 3000 connections. Or when they have 5. Find a sweet spot between those numbers, comprised of solid connections with people you’ve met or worked with. The point of LinkedIn is you can access all their second and third degree connections, so you don’t need to link to every person you ever come across. If you want to expand your networks quickly, join a bunch of groups that you’re interested in (like BGT‘s — in order to be able to vouch for everyone in our personal networks, we link to our community through our group rather than through those 3000 connections with people we’ve never met).

Oh, and file this under Carolyn’s Serious Pet Peeves: If you are going to request to link to someone you don’t know, PLEASE add an introduction or reason you want to connect — it drives me nuts when people I don’t know at all request to link to me without any explanation — or, worse, they just mark that I’m a “friend.” If you take a minute and think about what you and that person share, they’re more likely to check out your information, link, and remember your name. Make people want to help you.


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April 10th, 2009

A Bright Green Refresher: Categorized Advice for Green Jobseekers

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Since February, we’ve been putting out daily advice for green jobseekers. If you’re new to our blog or want to poke around in a specific topic, here’s a nearly-complete list of our advice posts. Have a look around!

Bright Green Talent’s 5 Ways to Ramp up your Job Search
Getting Oriented to Go Green
Getting Radically Tempered: Creating Change from the Inside
Paying it Forward
To School or Not to School?
Job Search Tip: Quality over Quantity to Keep Your Sanity
Linking People and Planet: Our Partnership with Solar Richmond
“Oh no, please don’t make me NETWORK!”

Sustainability Consulting:
Sustainability Consulting: What is it, and am I qualified? Part I
Sustainability Consulting: What is it, and am I qualified? Part II

Career Transitioning:
Perspectives from a Green Career Transition-er
To School or Not to School?
Getting Oriented to Go Green
Getting Radically Tempered: Creating Change from the Inside

Renewable Energy Inroads
Solar Opportunities to Match your Skill Set
Solar Classes and Certifications

Students and Recent Grads:
The Real Deal on Green Jobs for Students and Recent Grads
Get Skills; Get Savvy Part I
Get Connected (Networking 101)
How Not to Be a Jobseeker Horror Story
Resume Boot Camp I
Resume Boot Camp II
Resume Boot Camp III
Get Linked(In)

“Oh no, please don’t make me NETWORK!”
Get Connected (Networking 101)
Get Linked(In)

Career Coaching:
Here to Help: BGT Launches Career Coaching
Career Coaching: Launch is a Success!
Kudos to Christina: Career Coaching Feedback

Tom’s (Rules of) Thumb
Green Jobs: The Definitive Article
Top Skills for Getting a Green Job
What’s the Best Way to Find a Green Job?
Twit Your Way to a Green Job
On Eco-preneurship


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