The Psychology of Finding the Right Sustainability Job

Whenever it’s time to look for a new job, there are so many factors to consider —The mission of the work? Is the salary enough? Will the benefits meet my needs? But for long-term success, it’s also important to think about the sustainability of a company before you jump on board.

An individuals will maximize their chance for success if they chose the environment that is best suited for their motivations and personality.

In “4 Kinds of Workplaces and How to Know Which Is Best for You,” author Bill Taylor explains why individuals excel in different office environments. Taylor names these four workplace styles:

  • a community
  • a constellation of stars
  • a cause
  • a small team

His approach explores how individuals will maximize their chance for success if they chose the environment that is best suited for their motivations.

Taylor’s concept can be translated to working for a large company or a small consultancy or as an independent contractor — different elements drive each person in the workplace. Some are motivated by financial reward and personal recognition and would fit in a constellation of stars environment (ie Facebook or similar companies where everyone works to shine on their own while supporting the company) while another person would find the collective success of a project completed with a team incredibly rewarding. For others just the notion that their work is done in support of a cause they believe strongly in would be the motivation they need to fit in successfully.

When looking for a job in sustainability, it’s important to look both at the sustainability of the company itself, i.e. working for a coal mining company, even in a sustainability executive position may not be a solid long term strategy for someone looking for a stable career. However, even the oil and gas industry can provide the “cause based” draw for someone looking to change the system from the inside out.

Sometimes clients choose to take smaller steps or different paths than the consultants suggest, and for some personality types, that can be a challenge.

Sustainability consulting for a consulting company or as an independent contractor may be a draw for entrepreneurs and other independent workers, but keep in mind that the client makes the final decisions and often a “consultant” is just that – suggesting courses of action and not making decisions. Sometimes clients choose to take smaller steps or different paths than the consultants suggest, and for some personality types, that can be a challenge.

Taylor crafted a 16 question quiz in order to help people determine which workplace will be the best fit for them. Put on your “sustainability colored glasses” and try to see where you should be sending your resume.

To make a career choice sustainable, we all want to do work that we find important while surrounding ourselves with colleagues who will allow us to shine. In order to find the workplace where this can happen, it’s key to start in the right environment.

This article was first published on Strategic Sustainability Consulting
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Jennifer Woofter is the founder and president of Strategic Sustainability Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in helping rapidly growing mid-size businesses integrate sustainability into their business model, and providing coaching and training to sustainability professionals. She tweets at@jenniferwoofter.