Market pulse: Talent Nation reveals the sustainable job hot spots

Property infrastructure, energy and social enterprises are hot spots in sustainability, according to sustainable, environmental and energy recruitment specialist Richard Evans.

Evans, who is managing director of Talent Nation and chair of the Banksia Foundation, says the consultancies are currently very busy.

“They have been recruiting pretty heavily over the last six to 12 months and it’s still growing,” he says.

“We’re seeing quite a bit of activity around property infrastructure. The energy companies are busy at the moment because they are looking at disruption and how do they transform themselves, and then there’s lots of start-ups, social enterprises.”

Talent Nation splits its time between recruiting for the large corporates and not-for-profits or social enterprises.

“The thing with sustainability is there’s always pockets of activity, so you go through various waves where some areas are really busy and others are quieter.”

Evans says Sydney’s infrastructure boom is starting to flow through into Victoria with a number of major road and rail projects in the design or feasibility stage.

“Once they are awarded they will flow onto more work there.

“The Victorian government has flicked the switch on a number of different areas, so they’re looking at climate change, they’re looking at infrastructure projects, they’re looking at a raft of different areas all at once, and that’s meant that the consultants have been really busy.”

Alternative models of employment emerging

Some sectors have enjoyed mammoth growth – one engineering firm growing by 400 per cent – and it’s not uncommon.

However, employers are mindful that these things go in waves.

“A lot of them are looking at alternative models as well – so how do they engage with people. Do they bring them on as sub-contractors? Or as associates? Or permanent employees? And what does that mean if there is a downturn? Because from a morale perspective it’s never great to bring people on to then let them go. People still haven’t forgotten the GFC.”

Evans says employers are considering alternative models to enable them to flex up and down.

“I think these days people are less concerned with a job for life. So they [workers] are open to looking at alternative arrangements or engagement models.”

Resilience is a hot issue

Climate change resilience is on the agenda, particularly in Melbourne.

“Certainly the appointment of the CROs [chief resilience officers] in Melbourne and Sydney have really put it on the radar.”

According to Evans, the City of Melbourne’s chief resilience officer Toby Kent has done a good job of encouraging action on resilience.

“He’s done a really good job of bringing the local councils together to try to get a single view of what to do around this,” he says.

WA and Queensland recovering

Talent Nation focuses on the job market predominantly in Melbourne and Sydney.

“We do some work in Brisbane but the market in Brisbane and WA has been particularly quiet for the last couple of years within the space,” Evans says.

“The fall-off in resources did a lot of damage to those markets so it’s been predominantly NSW and Victoria where our focus is. But we are seeing a bit more activity – there’s more positive noises coming out of WA and also Queensland as well.”

Near enough isn’t good enough

While in the past a company would hire a candidate who fulfils most of their requirements, many companies will now hold off hiring until they find the perfect recruit.

“These days, people don’t want to make the wrong hire, which is fair enough,” Evans says. “And so they’d rather wait to get the perfect person than find someone who is 70 per cent there.”

This may be because workers are changing jobs more regularly.

“People don’t stick around in roles for as long as they used to and people are open to moving every couple of years,” Evans says. “So if you bring someone on board, and it’s going to take you 12 to 18 months to bring them up to speed, you are going to be understandably a little apprehensive about bringing them on and training them up and then potentially losing them.”

Source: The Fifth Estate

The Search for Purpose.

Now more than ever people are looking for more out of their careers. Employees want to work for purpose-driven organisations who are socially, environmentally & economically responsible and companies that value their people and their purpose, as well as their profits, are pulling ahead of the crowd.

Every day we are seeing this more and more in the work that we are doing. The applications & cover letters that fill the Talent Nation inbox, and the conversations we are having with candidates and clients are all evidence of the energy that is building around this. People at all levels, in a range of industries, want to know that they’re contributing to something bigger than a bottom line and are striving for a purpose-driven career.

The 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey revealed that 77% of highly connected Millennials stated that their company’s purpose was part of the reason they chose to work there and 75% of Millennials believe businesses are too focused on their own agendas and not focused enough on helping to improve society. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey affirms this again, ‘Millennials very much believe that business success is built on a foundation of long-term sustainability rather than pursuing short-term profit maximization’.

At the ‘Elevating Purpose in Business’ event last month Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, talked about his journey. What started off as missing out on the million dollar prize on The Amazing Race (by 4 minutes!), led to him founding an organisation that has given away over 30,000,000 shoes. It is a great story about how a flourishing business has grown from a concept of giving back. Everybody who buys the TOMS shoes wants to tell their story, and everybody who works for TOMS is proud to be part of that. With regard to employees, Mycoskie made the comment that “the best way to attract amazing people is to give them a purpose not just a pay check”.

Another member of the B Corp community, Harwood Andrews Lawyers completed their graduate intake program towards the end of 2015 and they too found that a large majority of applicants cited the B Corp status of the firm as a key motivator for them wanting to work there.

But the idea of making a positive impact through one’s employment is not unique to graduates or millennials. Regularly Talent Nation receives enquiries from people across a range of roles and industries who want to use their skills in positions of purpose, where they are adding value to their local communities, connected to people, groups, and organisations that have their back.

And there are many ways you can find purpose in the work that you do; take me for example. I have worked in the recruitment industry for 18 years both in the UK and here in Australia. The recruitment industry does not have the greatest reputation for ethics and values and certainly early in my career it was all about numbers and individuals were viewed as a revenue generation tool. Fast-forward to 2012 and the launch of Talent Nation. I had been operating in the Environmental recruitment space for several years however it still had a focus on revenue generation. I sold my stake and during my ‘gardening leave’ I completed the Centre for Sustainability Leadership fellowship program which gave me exposure to a range of people who thought like I did.

We still operate as recruiters however the roles we work on all centre around purpose  whether it be purpose-driven roles in organisations (Environment, Sustainability) or purpose-driven organisations themselves (social enterprise, NFPs and B Corps). We are the first and only recruitment company in Australia to achieve B Corp certification and enjoy being an active member of the B Corp community. Individually I have the pleasure of working with the team at the Banksia Foundation in a voluntary capacity and apply my business skills to the Board.

So, the search for purpose does not necessarily mean the search for a new job. There are many ways that you can find purpose in the work that you are doing:

  • Add to your current role – take on internal initiatives.
  • Become an internal sustainability champion.
  • Get involved with community volunteering.
  • NFP Board appointments and corporate/ skilled volunteering.

And if you are looking to find a company that is purpose driven, the B Corp community is a great place to start.

We would love to hear other ways that people have found purpose in the work that they do.

Job Profile: Sustainability Manager

Firstly, what is a Sustainability Manager?

Responsible for the development, management and implementation of an organisation’s sustainability strategy and agenda, a sustainability manager’s role is pivotal in understanding how an organisation has an impact on the world around them through business practice. This can be in terms of an organisation’s impact on the environment, resource consumption, supply chain practices, community engagement, employee engagement and the impact of their business practices or products and services in general.

The Sustainability Manager is also involved in technical support, education and business development, ensuring sustainability is integrated seamlessly into all elements. They play a crucial role in driving consistency and transparency, ensuring the organisation’s core sustainability commitments are maintained and ultimately exceeded.

At Talent Nation our experience and understanding of the sustainability sector enables us to bring together a range of knowledge from roles we have previously recruited as well as additional research and information from position descriptions we have sourced externally. Therefore we have created a general guide of how to get there:

Every role is slightly different however most have a common set of skills and attributes required:

the qualifications

  • A university degree or equivalent is essential with post graduate studies desirable.

the industry experience

  • 7-10+ years of experience in a professional sustainability environment.
  • Previous experience and active participation in various sustainability programs.
  • Experience managing projects in challenging and sometimes national or global scale environments
  • Management & leadership experience.

the skills and knowledge

  • A strong and up to date theoretical understanding of sustainability.
  • Strong data management, budgeting and sustainability reporting skills
  • Ability to build personal and organisational credibility and build beneficial internal and external relationships.
  • Ability to manage external contractors to meet deadlines and goals
  • Ambitious with a high level of energy and commitment
  • Decision maker and solutions oriented
  • Able to adapt quickly to changes
  • Excellent written, verbal communication and influencing skills
  • Sustainability reporting bodies and indexes