5 ways to boost your career in sustainability in 2022

28 Jan 2022

To help you start the working year we spoke with Richard Evans, Managing Director Talent Nation about the growing demand for individuals with sustainability credentials, how to build your skillset through experience and the trends to watch out for over the upcoming year. Read on to see how you can boost your career in sustainability in 2022.

1. What are your predictions for people working in the sustainability industry in 2022?

It was a busy end to 2021 with strong demand for individuals with sustainability credentials. My prediction is that the demand for this capability is only going to accelerate in 2022. With increasing focus and attention from stakeholders, including investors, employees, and customers prioritising sustainability. Most of our clients list climate risk is one of their top five focus areas and broader sustainability as top 10 (including human rights). When we released our Remuneration Report at the end of 2021 we found that despite COVID there had been a significant increase in salaries across the board.

2. What trends are we seeing in the industry as a result of COVID?

It is all about flexibility. Companies and employees are grappling with determining the right mix of office this is home based employment; particularly within real estate. As individuals we have become accustomed to working from home and removing the commute from our day. The common feedback is that people are more productive however they recognise that culture and shared learning are being compromised which makes “on the job” training and collaboration far harder to achieve.

It has been interesting to see the impact of COVID on the sustainability sector. When the GFC struck it was a dangerous time to be in sustainability as it was seen as a nice to have and therefore an expendable role. When COVID struck there were minimal redundancies in sustainability and if anything, organisations doubled down on their efforts.

There have been a lot of reports about the great resignation and the anticipation of it hitting Australia. This is not been the case for sustainability as it is more likely to impact those been on the frontline during COVID. We are however seeing a lot of industry movement currently which is understandable given people have been adverse to changing roles during times of uncertainty. Although it seems like there is a lot of movement at the moment it is compensating for several years of stability in roles.

3. What could people who are starting out in sustainability do to boost their career in 2022?

At this point in time it is all about experience. If you really want to accelerate your career then you need to immerse yourself in the subject matter. For example; Consultancies are in need of high calibre individuals as demand for their services at an all-time high. In order to meet this demand there will be a need to train and develop their staff. The same can be said for organisations however there is a barrier to entry in terms of meeting a base level of skills and experience.

4. What learning and development opportunities should people watch out for?

There is a huge amount of information and resources out there for people to draw from. From a learning and development perspective there are multiple industry associations who deliver amazing content to upskill professionals within this space. Perhaps the greatest challenge in Australia is that employers want to hire people with experience and not qualifications. Your best option is to undertake training and development whilst currently employed and then look to apply that knowledge to your existing organisation.

5. What are your top tips for people looking to change jobs in 2022?

Do your homework. The most common challenge is that people don’t know where they want their next role to be and what the priorities are for them. You should be thinking about your next role even if you are comfortable where you are currently as that is the best time to be critical around what your next move might be. You ideally don’t want to look for a job when you are desperate to move (unless you have to) because every new opportunity will look good.

For sustainability professionals it is important to understand where the strategy is being driven from, whether the board and executive are engaged, who your manager is and whether you can learn from them, and what you are looking to achieve from the role. Above all else, make sure it is a good culture fit as you spend too much time at work to be disconnected from the values of the company.

Talent Nation’s Environment and Sustainability Remuneration Report is out now. The second edition sets a benchmark for the ESG sectors, with key themes analysed such as salaries, gender and the impacts of COVID-19. Read the report here.

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