Building a career in Ocean Conservation is getting more and more complex compared to 30 years ago. People back then used to get jobs straight out of University and be with an employer for the next 30 years until they retire. However, today’s job market is completely different.
There are more people being educated from around the world, which means employers have many more qualified people from which to choose. The internet has also opened up the market to a global pool of candidates increasing the competition. Because of that, the qualifications for positions have also increased. There are more jobs are requiring a graduate degree so more people are getting them (Master’s and now PhD). It used to be a qualification that separated a person from the pack, but not anymore. Now, you have to take extra steps to get the job.
There is no loyalty between employer and employee. In the Ocean Conservation field, the people and places that hire are often restricted by funding; therefore, they cannot guarantee that your position will last until your retirement. As a result, many of us, including me, have had multiple jobs in our career.
I know the above statements seem a little “doom and gloom”; however, people still get jobs everyday in the environmental field, including Ocean Conservation. People are still hiring, but why are they not hiring you?
If you have the qualifications then you should be considered for the job; if you don’t, then you need to get the qualifications for you to be considered. That’s a pretty simple concept). But even if you do have the right qualifications, you are competing with a number of other people who also have the right qualifications…So what do you do now? You sell yourself!
You don’t have to sell yourself in a bad way like a false infomercial ad on at 3am that you only find entertaining after a Saturday night of drinking. You need to sell your services to the employer to demonstrate that you would be the best candidate for the job.
I know what you’re thinking: selling yourself intimidates you because we don’t want to seem pushy or make it seem like we are full of ourselves. This can lead to under selling yourself and not being confident, which will hurt your chances of getting any job.
It helps me relax if I implement specific sales techniques. Once I know these techniques, then I can use them when I need to without panicking.
Here are 3 Sales Strategies that I use to help build my career in Ocean Conservation:
Get To Know Your Employer
Before you even apply for any job in Ocean Conservation, you should be connecting online and offline with potential employers from various organizations, government departments, and/or consulting firms. You want to connect with anyone who is in charge with hiring at a place where you would like to work. Don’t just ask them for a job – that is not the purpose of this connection. You want to get to know them and the work that they do. Connect with them over commonalities in their research and outside of work (hobbies and such). This technique will require that you have a passion for the some of the same things as the employer to show them that your connection in genuine.
Keep in touch with the employer by sending them interesting articles you found or getting together with them for drinks. You can even saying hello at a conference or other social events.
Connecting with your employer does a couple of things. It allows them to get to know you over a longer period of time. They can see your passion for your work. They will also know how you think because you will be having conversations about where you want to go in your career. This means you will be in their mind when a job comes up in their organization. When you apply for the next job opening at that organizations, the employer will remember your name and could provide you with a great recommendation. Perhaps they can even fast track you through the hiring process.
The relationships that you build during this stage with these techniques will last a long time. I still chat with my connections as much as I can to learn from them and learn about new jobs that are coming up at a specific work place in which you are interested.
Show The Employer That You Know what They Know They Are Doing
Don’t say the above that way because then you will confuse them…HAHA! When you are selling any product or service, you should always do your research on the person or company. Show them that you know what they do and how they work. Not only will that show you are organized and well prepared, but it shows you care about what they do (And I know that you do truly care about Ocean Conservation!). This can apply to your application and/or the interview process.
Let me give you an example from personal experience. I was doing an interview last year and mentioned an article on a recent closure of fisheries in relation to the organization’s study area. We ended up chatting about that particular article for the next ten minutes. It really helped my interview and showed the employer that I cared for the region, which of course I do.
Don’t Sell Yourself, Just Make it seem that way!
I know what you’re thinking “Andrew, you just told me to sell myself, in fact, this article is all about selling myself.” Yes, you are correct, you should sell yourself – but you don’t want it to seem like you are selling yourself. This technique refers to how you act during your interview stage.
Normally, an interview is a question and answer session and sometimes that could be really intimidating. Sometimes the interviewers will seem uptight and then, in turn, you will seem uptight. This is definitely not what you want.
So do the following to relax everyone in the interview, including yourself:
Make the interview like a discussion. When people are discussing a topic, they become more relaxed and, with both sides participating, the flow of the conversation seems better with both sides participating. I conduct interviews over Skype often for SpeakUpForBlue.com content and the first thing I tell my guests is that the interview is more like a conversation than an interview. The guests immediately feel at ease and always mention at the end of the discussion that they enjoyed themselves. They often say they were a bit worried that it was going be a tense Q&A.
Turning a Q&A interview into a discussion interview doesn’t take too much effort on your part, but it does require the buy in of the interview person or committee.
The first thing I do when I walk into an interview is make small talk: weather, sports teams, nature activities, or families (mine or the committee’s families. That loosens everyone up a bit and takes away the shyness. The interviewers will then explain the interview process, which differs by sector (i.e. non-profit, government, and private). Then they start asking me questions. I always try to make my answers long rather than short. This allows me to begin the flow of a discussion. I will also ask questions during or at the end of my answers to get the interviewers to join in on the discussion. Once they start answering, then it becomes a discussion!
One thing to note when you are in a discussion is to keep on topic – either on your experience or how you can make the projects better. Mention your past experiences that would help one of their particular projects. Another personal example is when I mentioned during a recent interview that I knew quite a bit about social media and I started to explain what I knew about each social media platform. The conversation didn’t just come out of the blue. I was actually answering a question on outreach. The interviewers were so impressed that they mentioned I sounded like I knew more than their communications director. Through the discussion, I was able to mention the extra skills I brought to the table and got great feedback. I wasn’t aggressive in my selling either.
Practice Makes Perfect
It might take a while to get these techniques to a point where you are comfortable. You should practice these techniques in your everyday life to become more comfortable. For instance, use LinkedIn to connect with people that are part of various companies and organizations that interest you. Send them a connection and tell them why you would like to connect. If they connect, you can send an email back to them thanking them and asking some questions about their projects and/or research. You can also try and set up a call to discuss things in more detail. Check out my post on how to use LinkedIn to connect with people in your field. There are 1000s of people on LinkedIn that are in the field of Ocean Conservation.
Start using these techniques slowly and you will find they will become second nature in no time.
You will find that you will get better results and feedback from employers in order to start your career.
What sales techniques do you use to build your career in Ocean Conservation?