Follow us on  linkedin facebook twitter    New Support BASIC

Searching for a Job in the Sustainable and Responsible Investing

Jed Sturman

Searching for a job in sustainable & responsible investing (SRI) is much like searching for a job in any industry: it is important to do your homework.

In 2013, the Wall Street Journal suggested that 80% of job openings are filled without being advertised.  To career service professionals and those of us who have conducted a few job searches, this number sounds reasonable.  For those who are trying to figure out how to get a foot in the industry, this fact can be daunting.  While a portion of this 80% can be accounted for by internal hires, how can the average job seeker connect with the right job?

The answers, of course,  are research and networking.

The SRI industry (using this term broadly to include impact investing, environmental-social-governance [ESG] research, or shareholder activism) itself sits at the intersection of business and society and there are no standard pre-requisites to break into the industry.

Rule #1: Know thyself

The first rule for job searching is to know what you are seeking.  How else can you respond to the classic interview question “tell me why you want to work here?” You may aspire to be an impact investment banker or portfolio manager but these paths are considerably different and require a different set of skills and responsibilities.  Before you can effectively apply for jobs, it is important to know what you are seeking.  And this brings me to the second rule of job searching:

Rule #2: Network, network, network

The community of SRI professional tends to be generous, but this generosity should not be abused.  There are limits to the amount of information and understanding that can be gleaned from online research and ultimately, you will need to make direct connections to further your understanding.  Speaking with members of your direct network (think former colleagues, fellow university alums, friends & family) is a good place to start and often times, this first circle can provide introductions to others within their network – and so on. Industry networking events, such as BASIC programs (shameless plug), can also be  great ways to meet people outside of your immediate network.

Networking serves several purposes.  It is a chance to meet people who hold interesting positions and to learn about their experience, daily responsibilities, and career growth opportunities.  This will help you to further identify the right career path for you.

These conversations – whether they are by phone or over coffee – are also an occasion to uncover potential opportunities and therefore, you must come prepared to sell yourself. Be knowledgeable about the company (no one likes regurgitating information that is readily available on the company website) and come prepared to discuss your interests.  Learning about the typical backgrounds of people in your target position or learning how the company identifies candidates can give you a leg up when the time comes to discuss a specific opportunity.

Rule #3: Packaging your experience

Once you have identified the target companies and positions, it is time to package your experience.  For someone who is already working in SRI, this is an easier task.  However, if you are trying to break into the industry, it will require more creativity.  Have you been actively involved in a human rights group in college that will give you a unique perspective on social issues as they pertain to corporations?  Have you served as a research analyst in a different industry? These are relevant questions.  Think about the knowledge that you have gained, your experiences, and the impact that you have made as they relate to the responsibilities of the target position.

Being researched, connected, and - when the time comes - prepared to discuss how your relevant experience has prepared you will help you to land your dream role in SRI.