Three ways to develop a career in sustainability

08 January 2024 by Ruth Smith
blog author

​​ How many people can truly say they have a meaningful job which they not only love, but that also gives them purpose?

A career in sustainability has progressed enormously in the last decade or so, with companies prioritising the hiring of vital in-house roles such as the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) or utilising the services of a consultancy to boost their ESG credentials and ensure they are meeting stakeholder demands.

There is increasing pressure for businesses to perform with maximum impact, beyond a box-ticking exercise, to place the importance of people and the planet on a par with profitable gains. Investment in people and the planet should always belong at the core of any business strategy, alongside financial gains, for a sustainable and equitable future.

But embarking on a sustainability career can be challenging because you often need either relevant qualifications or demonstrable experience topped with top-notch soft skills that enable you to build and maintain robust relationships.

Many graduates are choosing to embark on a sustainability career as the global climate crisis gathers pace, even if their degree doesn’t reflect this. With 20 years’ experience as the world’s market leader in search, recruitment, talent development and advisory, we have guided and advised graduates about the best way to enter the sustainability space.

Acre has the following three recommendations to help develop your skills and accelerate a career in this field:

1. Networking groups

There are organisations dedicated to supporting newcomers to the sustainability space, offering support and guidance to embarking on a new career path.

During Green Careers Week a couple of weeks ago, my colleague Emily Goetsch and I joined the team at Catalyse Change for its Your Green Career course where we spoke to various groups of people who are looking to get a foot in the door.

Together we unpacked all the necessary requirements for a career in sustainability and helped guide young women who want to become champions in this ever-evolving space.

2. Alumni

If you have a degree, go back to your roots – contact your alumni and discover ways in which former members of your university can support your future career.

There are experts on hand who care about your professional future - they can help equip you with the right tools for successful career progression and advise you on carving the right path, leading you to the career you dream of.

I recently gave a talk at the University of Brighton where I spent time with a number of students studying a BA in Human Geography, all who were interested in sustainability. As a member of the Brighton alumni myself, I was able to make my professional experience accessible to those who want to enter the sustainability space.

3. Online resources

There is so much support at your fingertips, whether you want to research a career in renewable energy or want to understand more about the sustainable finance sector.

At Acre, we like to provide inspiring career advice that will benefit the next generation of sustainability pioneers. The career advice hub on our website devotes an entire section to the working world of sustainability, to whet your appetite.

LinkedIn is another great way to connect with recruiters and provide you with exposure to their network, along with potential job opportunities.

You will also be able to glean business intelligence insights to brush up on your understanding of the market which is fast-paced and ever evolving.

Indeed is another way to unlock your next opportunity. By searching under ‘Sustainability Graduate’ you will uncover a wealth of jobs and a handful may be relevant to you to apply for. By reaching out to these employers, you can understand where you are falling short of requirements and endeavour to develop those skills.

The route into a sustainability career isn’t always a single clear-cut method or linked to only one qualification or experience.

What was your journey into a sustainability career? Was a green job something you always strived for, or did it come to you a little later in life? I would love to hear from you to understand how you navigated your own journey and what you experienced along the way.


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