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Job Searching- A Very Un-green Process

May 10, 2008


rings, originally uploaded by S. Balcomb.

I’m (N.) currently in the market for a new job and I have to say it’s not exactly an eco-friendly process. In addition to being personally frustrating because I have to repeat the same information three different times, filling out three seperate applications for the same position is a bit much.

When I started the job search I created a resume and for each job I apply to I tailored it a bit to fit that job description. Since the file is kept electronically and submitted online usually it doesn’t involve printing anything out which is nice and eco friendly. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs and if I had to print a resume and cover letter out for each in addition to sending it in I would have wasted a lot of paper and money.

But when you get a first or second interview the company (who is already in possession of your resume) will usually send you their application. Which, FYI, is a regurgitation of everything you have already listed in your resume. You then are expected to bring hard copies of both your resume and the companies application with you to the follow on interviews. If you interview with six people you are expected to have ten copies handy. (It seems a general rule of thumb in the job search process is to always have extra copies of EVERYTHING)

Why? Most companies now have electronic databases so that anyone in the company that needs to can access your resume and application online. Do they need duplicate hard copies? Why can’t they just pull it up on their computer and look at it while they speak to you?

Also what is the deal with resume paper and resume envelopes? Honestly? Do we need to kill more trees just to have special paper to list our accomplishments on? I couldn’t find recycled resume paper instead what J. found was “100% cotton unique air-dried crispness. Nothing equals the rich texture of XYZ’s 100% cotton paper. The unique air-drying process provides it with a substantial feel, durability, rich color reproduction and distinctive crispness, like a new dollar bill.” I suppose the implication is if you don’t use this special paper you aren’t going to get ourself any crip dollar bills because you will be unemployed.

I guess in retrospect this means I’m not killing any trees I’m just utilizing pesticide laden cotton products processed with who knows how many chemicals for this special “air-drying.” And no I couldn’t find any organic cotton resume paper either. Perhaps had I searched online I could have found some and had it shipped to me but I’m doing this somewhat last minute so my options were limited.

Cotton Buds?, originally uploaded by T-Newland.

I have a second interview for a job I would really like and it’s with a company that specialiazes in products that measure and test water levels and water quality so it’s a fairly eco company. That’s cool but they don’t just have to have my resume, they want my resume in digital and hard copy format for each person I am interviewing with, they also want an online application filled out AND a word document application that I must fill out, print out, and bring with me- in duplicate. As frustrating as this is since they all say the exact same thing in slightly different formats it’s not like I can refuse. Well I could but then we get back to the whole unemployed piece… I filled them all out but I am taking a small stand. While I did print out ten copies of my resume on my 100% cotton paper I refuse to print out ten copies of my application on that same paper. I made two copies of it on 100% recycled paper along with two copies of my reference list and one copy of my college transcripts and previous performance evaluations. I figure if they really need it then they can make copies themselves or the course of action I prefer is that I can email them electronic copies- again.

All of this makes me think of a “If I ruled the world” scenario I wouldn’t do this. I would have people submit their resume electronically and if there was additional information needed then I would have an application that only covered that information. It would all be kept in an electronic database accessible by all those involved in the hiring process and they would use those electronic copies to conduct interviews. Nothing would be printed out and no duplicate work or information would be required. It amazes me that we live in a day and age full of technology which in most cases causes us to be more wasteful but in this case wouldn’t and yet we either don’t utilize it at all or we only half utilize it because we are all stuck in our ways. We want what is easier- three copies of the same information printed out multiple times and given to us multiple times so that we don’t have to worry about accessing it in advance.

Yes, as you can guess this prospect of finding a new job is not only daunting but terrifying. I am giving up a career path that gives me great benefits and absolute job security because the prospect of doing that for the rest of my life makes me want to gauge my eyeballs out with a spoon. I know in the long run I will be happier even having sacrificed some of those benefits and job security but in the short term it’s daunting to try to pick a whole new career path and then having found what I want to do I have to figure out how to convince the people doing the highering that I’m THE ONE when I know they have numerous qualified applicants.

All is not doom and gloom though! If you are trying to find a job there are ways to green up the process. The internet is an awesome tool both in researching job opportunities and companies that you could work for. When you are starting your search you will find a plethora of resources telling you how to write a resume, a cover letter, interview tips and tricks. You will find places like Monster that you can upload your resume to and use it to apply for multiple jobs and you won’t have to print anything out.

You can also go to your local library to check out books on the subject. I highly recommend Knock’em Dead the 2008 edition by Martin Yates. I have read it cover to cover and then reread multiple chapters numerous times to prep for interviews. It covers every step of the job search process from resume to negotiating the job offer and leaving your current employer gracefully. More importantly it gives you tips to handling the resume. It teaches you what all employers are looking for and how to translate your experience into that coveted job offer even if you don’t meet the “minimum qualifications” listed in the job description. If your library doesn’t have it you can search for used copies and then sell it when you are done. Unless you plan on making multiple job moves in a short period of time there is no reason to own the book longer then your job search.

As for that resume and special paper, personally I think it’s unavoidable right now but I have hope that this is changing. Most companies have websites where you can electronically submit your application and resume and unless you get called for a face to face interview you don’t need to print anything out. When you do have to make sure you store them carefully so that if you don’t end up handing them out you can keep them for the next interview. If in the inital phases a company asks for information see if you can email it to them saving you the postage as well as helping the earth out.

Job search attire- the beloved balck, dark grey or navy blue suit with white dress shirt and matching shoes. For ladies a skirt is recommended and nylons are a must. Keep accessories to a minimum- this is not the time to showcase your personal style (unless of course you are applying to a stylist position or a position in fashion). You don’t need to go out and buy these new and if the job you are eventually going to get isn’t going to require you to wear a full on suit then you don’t need to purchase multiples. You can find high quality gently used suits on places like Ebay, Craigslist, and local thrift and consignment stores along with dress shirts and shoes. Why waste money you probably don’t have on something you probably won’t like anyway? As for nylons you can get organic ones online and as long as you take care of them one pair will get you through the entire job search.

Traveling- a necessary evil. If you are looking for a job locally then you probably won’t have to travel to much during the search but if you are looking to relocate further away then it’s unavoidable. I suggest trying to attend hiring conferences or job fairs where you can interview with multiple people and make the most of the trip. If that isn’t an option then try to arrange interviews for mutliple companies in the a small period of time yourself so that you are only take one or two trips.

Finally, company research. Once you get an interview you will want to research the company and job you will be filling. If you know anyone that works in that company or field they can be an invaluable asset. If not the internet is your next best bet. The company website, the wallstreet journal website, google, trade associations and other search engines are a great way to find out what the company is about, what they are doing that has made the news, how they stack up against their competitors etc etc. Take what you find and cut and paste it into a single word document that you can study. When it gets closer to the interview make a couple of notes on a piece of paper you can take with you that highlights points you want to make or questions you want to ask. This way you aren’t printing out a bunch of information or trying to search within it as you are cramming in the bathroom prior to your interview 🙂

Well, I really should get back to studying for my own interview (keep me in your thoughts and prayers) so my last piece of advise is this. If you are looking for a green job then check out Yahoo Green. I applied to a couple of different jobs here that I never would have found at a traditional job search site. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2008 11:11 am

    Wow! That is a lot of paper. I used to do hiring for an old job and I hated the piles of paper it generated. Online is the way to go. I wish all companies would make the effort to go that way.

  2. May 13, 2008 5:47 pm

    I was thinking recently that this topic would make a great post, as it has been driving me crazy, too! I’m in the same boat, though not as many paper issues. I have to make copies of dvds of my video work, though, which is equally wasteful. And the DRIVING!! Argh.

    Good luck in your search! And I guess I’ve been away for a while – great new look for the blog!

  3. May 17, 2008 8:55 pm

    Wow – good points. I never thought about it, but you’re right.

    Good luck with your job search!

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