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How to get a job in climate tech

Here are the top tips from people within the industry.

By Freya Pratty

The climate tech industry is growing fast. Globally, investors poured $87.5bn into the sector in the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, and it feels like there’s a new climate tech fund announced every week. 

But the way to get into the sector isn’t always clear. We asked people from across sales, marketing and product in some of Europe’s biggest climate tech companies for their tips. 

Consider upskilling

“Try short courses — like The Future of Sustainable Business at Oxford University. They’re a worthwhile investment to up your knowledge and profile.”

Stuart Johnson, VP of sales at carbon offset rating startup Sylvera

I did the Business Sustainability Management course at the University of Cambridge which was challenging, lightning-paced, but equally rewarding. It greatly increased my confidence and further solidified that this was an industry I wanted to work in.”

— Holly Ledlin, head of PR and comms at mobility startup Zoomo 

“Anything extra you can do to demonstrate your interest in the climate and build your CV with relevant experience will really help you stand out from the crowd — a high proportion of people say they’re interested in working for a sustainable business, but not everyone can provide evidence to back up that declared interest. I found a week-long course at the university in order to earn a qualification in sustainable thinking.”

Carenza Harvey, product manager at EV subscription service Onto

Market your transferable skills

“Don’t underestimate the transferable skills that you have acquired in your current job. I spent a long time thinking I could only ever be a lawyer but once out of my old role soon realised I had a valuable set of skills to utilise in my current role.”

Nikki Elton, commercial and operations manager at Pinwheel

“You can contribute with your experience, both good or bad, from other industries to promote progress by transferring successful strategies and structures and avoiding typical failures.”

Ingo Bergmann, product manager at battery manufacturer Freyr

“My advice would be first to realise that both your innate skills as an individual and those which you’ve gained academically or professionally are likely to be applicable and valuable to a company in the climate tech space. If you, by chance, have a degree or experience in the field directly, fantastic, but that’s not the most important thing.”

Chris Lawrence, senior VP of marketing at electric truck manufacturer Einride

“The automotive, oil and gas, food industries and pharma are relevant industries where engineers will have skills we need in climate tech. Our engineers also need to be aligned with the company’s vision.”

Lars Øyvind Johansen, product manager at battery manufacturer Freyr

Identify how you can make an impact in your current role

“Fundamentally, sustainability is about how you approach every aspect of your job — whether you work in climate tech or not. So, before you look to change jobs, look around and identify where you can make an impact in your current role. 

“As a product person, you can also introduce sustainability into your development process, definition of done or product vision. If your users care about the climate, your product should reflect that — and if they need encouragement, can your product help give them that?”

Carenza Harvey, product manager at EV subscription service Onto

Find a product or service you really believe in

“You should ask yourself whether you like the product and would use it yourself, whether you can understand and indeed feel the value and if you are driven by the company’s mission. If so, go ahead, come on board to fight the climate crisis! Every day you wake up, you can be certain that you are working on one of the biggest problems of humankind. This purpose helps you get through all challenges that could arise.”

Stephan Rink, chief sales officer at solar panel startup Enpal

“You have to be passionate and convinced by the project you are carrying out. Wanting to change the world is a prerequisite. Marketing or sales is a job of contact, exchange and openness with other stakeholders. It is essential to be able to talk, convince and explain the benefits of the project and its environmental impact.”

Alain Revah, chief corporate affairs officer at edible insect startup Ÿnsect

“Have a genuine interest in sustainability. What began as a personal interest in becoming more eco-friendly has grown into a real passion for sustainable business. One of my favourite parts of my job is that I communicate with people like me who are looking to live out their sustainable values.”

Emily Gauntlett, senior content and community associate at Bower Collective 

Get active on LinkedIn and the right job sites

“Make a habit of being active on LinkedIn. Join relevant networks, engage and comment on intriguing posts, attend local events, and don’t be shy to ask interesting people to grab a coffee sometime. What you know and who you know go hand-in-hand.”

— Chris Lawrence, senior VP of marketing at electric truck manufacturer Einride

“I researched companies and roles that I felt were a good fit for me, engaged directly and through select recruiters, narrowed down on opportunities that I liked. Shoutout to Scalewise for ultimately connecting me with Sylvera. ClimatEU was also a useful resource.”

Stuart Johnson, VP of sales at carbon offset rating startup Sylvera

“I signed up to alerts on almost every climate or ethical job site I could find. People tend to only stick to searching for jobs on LinkedIn (which I do encourage), but there are other resources out there that tailor job adverts to specific niches.”

 — Holly Ledlin, head of PR and comms at mobility startup Zoomo 

“If you’re looking for a role in a climate-focused organisation, there are plenty of lists of up-and-coming startups you can find online. I would also recommend making the most of your network — is there anyone you already know who specialises in sustainability? Or can you find someone on LinkedIn who has your dream job? Why not reach out to them directly to ask for some tips — who knows, they may have a job going which hasn’t been advertised yet!”

Carenza Harvey, product manager at EV subscription service Onto

“Network, network, network — the startup ecosystem and climate sector are full of generous people willing to give up their time to have a coffee or chat over Zoom, you never know who they might connect you with and whether they are looking to make their next hire.”

Nikki Elton, commercial and operations manager at Pinwheel

Be willing to work outside of your area of expertise

“You have to be willing to work outside of your comfort zone, be willing to contribute to tasks which are not specifically defined as yours, and constantly acquire new skills.”

Lars Øyvind Johansen, product manager at battery manufacturer Freyr

“Managing new product development and introduction projects at Freyr is exciting because I am involved and responsible in every discipline from sales and customer requirements, early-stage R&D to supply chain management as well as production line equipment planning, qualification, installation and operation.”

Ingo Bergmann, product manager at battery manufacturer Freyr

“There’s so much yet to be uncovered, and bringing knowledge from different backgrounds is only going to help the upwards curve on learning within the space! The more diverse mindsets that enter climate tech, the better we’ll become over the coming years.”

Ayman Hafez, head of product at electric car subscription service Onto

“Be comfortable and confident with change.”

Louise Atkinson, marketing manager at vertical farming startup Infarm 

“Be prepared to be agile and open. You’re likely to be going above and beyond your job role, which gives you invaluable experience you would be unlikely to get in larger organisations. It can be hard work, but having the openness and generosity to muck in beyond your remit will teach you an awful lot.”

— Harriet Matthews, product content at slow travel startup Byway

Look after your free time

“Keep a check on your working hours. Working with a bunch of people who are closely aligned with your own values is exhilarating and infectious, but it’s easy to lose track of time and hard to switch off when the ideas just keep on popping into your head.”

Nathalie Christmann-Cooper, developer at slow travel startup Byway 

Freya Pratty is a reporter at Sifted. She tweets from @FPratty and writes our climate tech newsletter you can sign up here

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