Hiring Practices of a Successful Green-Sector Business

By Deam Roys, president and CEO of Roys & Associates, an emerging-growth executive recruiting firm.

Success in business is predicated on people, and successful businesses know how to find them. In the green energy space in particular, an organization’s credibility and long-term growth are tied to its hiring practices. Having access to the very best talent across the renewable energy industry is paramount to a company’s success.

The clean-tech/green-tech landscape is rapidly changing as investment washes in and out of the sector. Some companies make big eco-commitments while others slink away from their environmental goals. Nevertheless, recruiting the best talent is very competitive and is one of the top issues facing green-tech companies.

I run Roys & Assoc., a top international executive search firm that specializes in recruiting for early stage and emerging growth companies in the green sector. In my experience, the best candidates for green jobs are those that are truly passionate about the environment. A company must be genuinely green to attract that kind of candidate— apathy just won’t cut it.

Here are five key points I follow when looking for the best job candidates for green industry jobs:

  1. Get the facts. When conducting job interviews, it’s always important to ask for specific examples of a candidate’s experience. The job applicant’s general statements must be backed-up by concrete illustrations of skills. Also, it’s important to catch the candidate off-guard, forcing him or her to move out of their comfort zone. I concentrate on getting to know the candidate’s thought process, how they think on their feet and their work ethic.
  2. Assess the level of enthusiasm for company goals and values. I make it a point to ask the candidate if he or she has done volunteer work in the green space. Also, I determine if the candidate has an understanding of the interconnectivity within the environmental community. Is the candidate willing to push the green agenda by connecting with other green companies and non-profits? How many connections does the candidate already have in the green space?
  3. Conduct simulation exercises that gauge a candidate’s abilities. Surveys reveal that a majority of organizations do not use any form of simulation or test in assessing the skills of job candidates. I’ve learned it’s important to find the correct exercise for each position. For example, the test devised for a factory worker should be very different from that meant for a prospective sales person.
  4. Try to hire internally and from your network of contacts. External candidates often have skills that internal candidates lack, but internal candidates know your business better and have already demonstrated a commitment to the company. It is obviously much easier to obtain an accurate assessment of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses if that person is already working at your company. When turning to external sources, I’ve learned that it’s beneficial to rely on your own network first, locating the best candidates via word of mouth.
  5. Retain an executive search firm. Even if I end up hiring from within, or from my own network, it is important to have an accurate assessment of the available talent pool. While human resources departments and in-house recruiters are capable of filling lower-level positions,  top companies rely on industry-specific executive search firms that have the core competency it takes for recruiting when it comes to critical, make-or-break hires. These recruiters know the lay of the land, the compensations and what it takes to attract and retain talent.

While it may seem easy, hiring the right people requires a lot of attention to detail, discipline and a solid understanding that the people you employ will serve as ambassadors of your business. For me, hiring intelligent, capable employees definitely says something about my business, as well as my clients. By following the above steps, I can do my best to ensure that I have only the brightest, most green-conscious people on my team.

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