EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

8 steps to getting a CSR job from the author of ‘Making Good: Finding Meaning in a Changing World’

by Shannon Houde

Over the past few months, I’ve been blogging the brightest nuggets of CSR and sustainability job advice unearthed by the recent Net Impact Conference 2012 in Maryland, USA. Tips and tricks have included networking tips to CV advice to smart career switching, gleaned from the various workshops and discussions I took part in.

But I’ve saved my favourite for last. As regular blog readers will know, I am committed to the belief that it is possible to do work that changes the world while also offering a decent salary. Sitting in the audience for a talk titled ‘The Elusive Job: Getting Clear Before You Launch Your Impact Career’, I found myself a kindred spirit.

Dev Aujla is the co-author of ‘Making Good: Finding Meaning in a Changing World’, a fantastic book that explains how to find opportunities to do good and earn money – and not just in the Fortune 500!

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I’m going to share with you Dev’s eight in-depth, creative and hands-on steps to getting a job, as outlined in his presentation.

1. Pick an industry, pick a mission

Identify the industry that you want to rebuild in a way that does good. It can be something you’re interested in or familiar with – be free to choose anything! (You won’t necessarily be working in this industry for the rest of your life). Your mission, then, is to rethink, redesign or rebuild that industry in a way that does good.

2. Create a ‘To Learn’ list

Make a list of the things you’ll need to know in order to achieve your mission of rethinking a given industry. Say the industry you chose was food retail. Figure out what you’d need to learn about the juice industry as if you were about to start up your own sustainable juice firm. It could be little stuff, like point of sale, it could be supply chain, it could be organic vegetable and fruit sourcing. This list will help you evaluate what companies do.

 3. Build your company list

Start with companies that are doing sustainable juice and doing it in a way that fits with your mission. There might be one, there might be five, it doesn’t matter. Who are they? How are they doing it? Which skills from your Learn List can you learn from them? Which major players within your industry are yet to do good? What could they do? And then start to look outside your industry. What valuable skills on your Learn List could they teach you? What about educational institutions?

4. Prove 3 ways you have a skill

Identify three real, tangible skills that you have and explain how you’ve used them in your life or career.

5. Prove 3 ways you have a mission

This can be done in a lot of different ways, for example through volunteering, through reading every book on the sector, through talking to people.

6. Find the person

Find the person you need to connect with at one of the companies on your list. Who manages sustainability? Who from the company speaks at conferences like Net Impact? Scour your networks and find their email address.

7. Pitch the email

Describe your three key mission examples and your three key skills examples. Use these to explain your vision to a potential employer.  Explain that you’ve committed yourself to achieving it and have been going it alone but you’ve come across them and can’t believe how well-aligned your projects are. As Dev puts it, write that, ‘Working with you guys, I can achieve my mission and use all my skills in a way that’s going to accelerate your work. Let’s talk’.

8. Get the meeting!

Jobseeking isn’t easy and there isn’t one magical email that works. But what does work is putting the time in, doing the industry research, identifying the skills you have and proving them. When you go to the meeting, you are eager to learn, you already know a lot, and you know your value. Those things, combined with Mission! Mission! Mission! and Skills! Skills! Skills!, they are what will get you a job.

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