When it comes to the renewable energy industry job market, based on experience, there are two types of candidates.
The first are those who have recently graduated from university and have little to no industry experience. The second are high-level executives, who have lots of experience but not necessarily in the renewable energy industry. They might have a history in engineering, oil and gas, construction, or mining, for example.
Before delving into the two streams, we should look at the Australian renewable energy industry. It’s important for job seekers to know that the technology side of renewable energy is quite small in Australia compared to a country like China. Therefore, the majority of jobs here are more on the side of marketing, sales, installation, country managers, and technicians. While there are research roles, they are few and far between. Just like it is globally, this industry is growing significantly and, similar to other markets, is facing a labour shortage.
While there are of course other types of candidates entering the market, to keep this simple, I will be looking at only these two streams. You should also note that while some of these tips and insights are universal, this is from experience in Australia. I hope this article helps you in your journey to joining one of the most forward-thinking and fun industries in the world.
1st Stream - Graduates With Limited Experience
As mentioned, this first type of candidate for a career in the green industry, identifies with the new graduates.
In my experience, I would say you have more of an advantage compared to those in the second stream of candidates. It’s easier for junior talent to join an established team and provide support through skills gained at university. They are also cheaper than higher-level executives, so companies are more willing to take them on board and most importantly, train them.
Spend your time wisely at university
It would be advantageous for you to participate in internships and other research opportunities during your time at university in order to supplement your resume. With many universities leading the way in renewable energy research, like the University of New South Wales (UNSW), for instance, it would be wise to seek out relevant opportunities and get involved in any way that you can.
To find out all your university has to offer, you should talk with your campus’ career advisory team. They should have all the information you need as to how you can stay on the right path and to have the necessary qualifications by the end of your studies.
Some of the programs and projects start right at the beginning of the semester and require you to register and interview for them in advance. It can be easy to miss, so be sure to talk with your career advisor or faculty members. You can also reach out to your peers who are further along in the degree you want; their experience and insights will be invaluable.
Make sure you’re ahead of the curve; map out your goals ahead of time to prevent yourself from missing out. Universities offer so many pathways to help you get the job you want – use them!
During your time there, you should also write down the skills you’ve gained through the extracurriculars, projects, or internships undertaken. This will be perfect material to use as evidence of your capability when job searching. If you’re finding it difficult to source internships, check out your institution’s career team job lists page.
You can also check out other programs outside of your university. In Australia, the Clean Energy Council offers a number of accreditations and also a career development program that can be extremely valuable, depending on the role you wish to pursue. The career development program is especially good for international students wishing to gain a better working culture perspective and experience in Australia. Making it easy, the Clean Energy Council has a number of education providers across the country that offer the courses.
It’s not just about gaining experience – you should be getting your name out there. Networking is crucial. Keep on the lookout for initiatives, clubs, seminars, and other events that are happening within the industry. For example, Spark Club in Sydney hosts live events across the year that are a perfect opportunity for anyone seeking to enter or learn more about this fascinating industry. You will also be meeting like-minded individuals. Establishing a rapport with people in the industry is a sure-fire way to demonstrate your capability, regardless of your limited experience.
In this stream, it’s all about building experience and building your reputation. It can be nerve-wracking to network but trust in that doing it will greatly impact your hiring chances in the long-run.
2nd Stream - Senior Executives with Transferable Experience
Attaining and placing senior roles is a bit more difficult for candidates and employers alike. The first is that, while not as apparent as a decade ago, there is a pay gap for roles between the renewable energy industry and other industries. While this gap has narrowed significantly, the idea of taking a pay cut can deter quality candidates.
Secondly, on the candidate side, it can be harder to gain a job purely based on the lack of history within the sustainability sphere. Although I do find this less so for, say, salespeople. For project managers, in my opinion, those with experience in infrastructure for energy and mining projects are in a better position.
But if you don’t have experience in those industries, not all hope is lost. As a recruiter, I know the importance of transferable skills, and I see it regularly being leveraged by candidates to attain a job in a different industry or even in a completely different role.
Passion plays a big role, too. As previously mentioned, there is a pay gap. So for those who take roles in this industry, you’re going to find that they are passionate and excited about building a green future. If you’re wanting to work in this sector, I’m sure the same could be said for you. So be sure to show it off; that can be done through going to events, networking, and building a presence in the industry (more on that in building your personal brand).
Another way to demonstrate that passion and help you transition into this industry is through undertaking additional learning and researching. You could look into online technology courses or simply stay up to date on industry market trends, depending on what role you want to pursue. You can also learn and network at the same time by attending industry events and joining clubs and initiatives.
Women In Renewable Energy
In the clean energy industry (globally), only 32% of employees are women. In Australia, we have a higher rate of 39%. On a positive note, companies are working towards targets and goals to increase the number of women in their organisations. It is a big misconception that the industry is predominantly labour-focused; this is only true for some roles. There are many jobs that are more office-based (and arguably, more flexible) like project management, compliance, sales, and marketing.
Companies want to increase diversity in their ranks, they want to mix up team structures (in fact, gender-diverse teams have been proven to be more successful and productive in many cases, such as sales teams and scientific research), and they also want to meet their corporate goals. If you’re a woman who is interested in the renewable energy sphere, don’t be deterred!
Establishing Your Personal Brand
Regardless of what category you fit into, your personal brand is crucial. The world is your oyster with sites like LinkedIn. Get active on LinkedIn, follow industry thought leaders and companies, and join groups, clubs, and initiatives that are local. Following that, you should interact with posts: likes are good, but comments are better. If you really agree with someone, don’t just repost it, add your own comment and thoughts.
Get your name out there and make your voice heard. If you are really passionate and have a knack for writing, you can easily write articles for your LinkedIn. You can also use websites like Medium. To gain traction, you should be sure to demonstrate your opinion; in the world of AI-written articles, you need to stand out by adding more than just regurgitated information. With enough of a portfolio, you can (if you wish) reach out to news organisations like RenewEconomy and provide your own articles.
There are so many ways to build yourself up in this industry; it’s all about working at it consistently and being well-informed about the sector.
Renewable energy is an exciting industry. As it grows bigger and bigger, there will be many opportunities for you to join it. It’s just all about knowing the industry, meeting people within it, and going out of your way to establish your personal brand.