5 tips for recruiting top sustainability talent by working with HR

by Shannon Houde

This may come as a surprise to my jobseeker readers, but from a company’s perspective, hiring top talent for the CR and sustainability sector is a complicated task.

Despite today’s competitive jobs market, some recruiters are struggling to find the key staff they need to drive their impact agendas forward.

In my recent careers advice column for, I responded to a question from an Energy and Carbon Director at a major telecoms firm. She needed a strategy to help HR help her to hire the very best up-and-coming leaders in the energy sector.


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While this sector is complex by nature, and the innovation challenges it faces are even more so, the core solution to her problem was deceptively simple: clear communication and strong relationships.

In this week’s blog, I’ve summarised my 5 top tips for maximising the relationship between hiring managers and HR.

1) Synergise with HR

Build a long-term relationship with internal recruiting partners in HR. Get to know your recruiting partner and find out how they’re hardwired on a personal level. Have a meeting and map out what’s important to them in the hiring process, then spell out your own top five drivers or needs. Make it clear that you want HR to work with you, not for you.

2) Keen an eye on the trends

The energy and carbon sectors are in flux right now, with smart grid technologies booming and carbon markets flat as a pancake. It’s up to you to identify the risks and opportunities in this dynamic industry, and to communicate them in clear, jargon-free language to your HR partners.

3) Design realistic job specs

The demand for a new combination of technical and commercial skills in sustainability roles can leave both candidates and HR scratching their heads.  Make sure that the person you’re seeking can actually exist! Keep job specs realistic, engage with HR in drafting them, and don’t be tempted to get too wordy. You can drill down on the hard points later in the interview process.

4) Empower your team to help

Offer incentives to your senior team to get them involved with the overall recruitment process. It may be resource intensive, but inspired talent is your greatest asset.

5) Benchmark your competitors

Offer to commission a salary benchmarking study or a talent mapping exercise using an external recruitment agency.  Also identify the top universities and seek out the emerging technical and commercial talent before they even graduate – this will help you stay ahead of your competitors.

Good luck hiring top talent in this evolving sustainability space.


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