Friday, 30 January 2009

The Future of Online Recruitment

Yesterday Katharine Robinson and Phillip Clement attended Enhance Media’s Online Recruitment conference “The Year Ahead”. Katharine gives her thoughts below.

I was particularly interested to hear what Facebook, YouTube, PWC, Workcircle and the rest had to say. The conference was aimed mainly at the job board market and corporate recruiters, but when your job is to manage a recruitment company’s digital footprint, it’s somewhere you just have to be.

I was a little surprised that the day seemed to have no clearly defined objectives – I don’t know whether it’s because I used to be in teaching, but I like to have a clear Idea of what I am supposed to be learning so that I know whether or not I have been successful. There was not even an Agenda provided before the event.

We kicked off the day by hearing from YouTube. There was a whole plethora of incredible stats. Most notable from an energy perspective was the fact that YouTube might only be three years old, but it accounts for 10% of the bandwidth being used on the internet at any one time. As there are 1.2 billion minutes of video uploaded every month, this must be being stored somewhere. These data centres must account for massive energy usage and have quite a carbon footprint. Probably most interesting from a recruitment perspective was that video can help in the selling process – pictures add credibility when you buy something so moving pictures add even more. I was inspired by the notion of creating some short snippets of video, demonstrating the opportunities we are working on, having an EcoSearch YouTube channel and putting some of these clips on our site.

I was looking forward to hearing from Facebook. If you are interested in such things, you will know that EcoSearch already has a Facebook Page where you can become a fan. I wanted to see what more I could do with it. I was a little disappointed to find myself on the receiving end of a sales pitch for their targeted advertising. We were told about pages, and shown a couple of the best ones (that I had already investigated when creating ours). I was also disappointed to find that the speaker couldn’t answer my question about our page’s analytics.

Blogs were also a big topic of the day. In my opinion the most important thing about blogging is communication and interaction with your audience. As a recruitment company I am often concerned that people will not wish to comment as they don’t want anyone to assume they are on the market for a job (either rightly or wrongly). I have nothing against this and at EcoSearch we are committed to privacy and ensuring that our clients and candidates are ensured the highest discretion. The only suggestion from the speakers at the event was to give people the ability to comment anonymously.

Here on anonymous comments have always been allowed – so don’t worry about commenting on the blog – we encourage you to have your say.

Warning! Practice what you preach and ditch the Greenwash

Phillip Clement looks back at Greener times...

Image by CygnusX

I don’t feel that old. I mean when I look back and recall my childhood; it doesn’t seem that different to how things are today. Other than the red corduroy flares and floral, big collared shirts we used to wear, life is more or less the same isn’t it? How many of my friends parents had a car, let alone two, how many went on foreign holidays and had a TV in every room? Well, not many. Actually none!

My parents weren’t poor; we had an average house in an average street, a street that is still there and actually it looks pretty much the same, except it’s different – very different. Life is very different. For those of you who can remember the Bay City Rollers, Smash hits and La-LaLa-Lookin, will remember just how different things were. Cycling was a form of transport not a leisure pursuit and a Raleigh Shopper was the Mercedes ML of its day and did the school-run adequately, with various long-hared, hand-knitted jumper, flare wearing offspring hanging off the seat and handlebars, whilst the mother pushed it along the street, with the intention of visiting the local Spar on the way home to pick up the groceries for that day.

Actually when you look at it we were Green! If we all could go back to the way we were in the 70’s, except the flares, then we’d probably save the planet! And we know we need to. Why? Because Mr Brown and all the other leaders of the free world and some of the leaders of the not so free world (Wales) are telling us that we need to. So you’re turning off your lights, popping on an extra jumper rather than turning up the heating, you’re recycling your milk bottles and some of you are even cycling to work! But it’s not going to be enough, why? Because unfortunately our leaders are not able to lead by example and while we’re busy cutting up cardboard into small enough pieces so that they fit in the green bins that the council come to get once a fortnight, our governments are planning bigger roads approving new runways and building coal-fired power stations. And in a Paul Daniels, slight-of-hand sort of way, putting up a few windmills in the north sea whilst lending billions of pounds to car manufacturers so they can continue to make petrol guzzling tanks of cars for us to take the kids to school in!

So, I have a concern: How long will it take us to tell our governments who are asking us to return to a life of the Reliant Robin (a groovy 3-wheeled motor vehicle of high fashion status in the 70’s), to practice what they preach?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Urgent! If you have a Monster Profile - change your password

We have just been made aware of this breaking news story on the BBC website.

It is suspected that log-in details of Monster users could have been accessed by hackers.

You are advised to change your password and be wary of suspicious looking emails claiming to be from Monster.

How Low-price Steel is affecting the Low Carbon sector

Clare says:

No-one can fail to have heard about the 3,500 job cuts made by Corus Steel (owned by the Indian giants Tata) this week, in the face of plummeting world demand for steel. Steel is one of the modern world’s most common raw materials, but it has been massively hit by the contracting automotive manufacturing industry.

Steel is also a key product in the manufacture of products used in onshore and offshore energy generation: wave and tidal turbines, gas turbines, waste heat recovery and, closest to my heart and mind, wind turbines.

So as this sector, the renewable energy sector, continues to grow will falling costs of steel translate to falling costs of manufacturing? WTG manufacturers will be able to buy the raw materials more cheaply, and these reduced costs should translate to the buyers as well. Coupled with less back-log in the order books, this will make turbines a lot more accessible to asset owners.

Last week, plans for the London Array hit the news again, with concerns from E.On and Masdar (partners in the project, with Dong Energy) over the economic viability of the massive £3million project. However, a spokesman for E.ON said that the falling costs of steel were a massive consideration for them, and could have a positive effect, helping them to bolster their economic case for the project (as reported in The Times Online)

Steve says:

Manufacturing’s influence on other industries is significant. Clare has been talking about how this may affect the wind turbine manufactures, but what other impacts are there?

There is a direct and clear correlation between the carbon market and the manufacturing industries. These heavy emitters form the basis of the multinational, multi-billion dollar emissions trading industry and its main principle relies on the market being liquid and working a similar basis to the other commodities like oil, gas or gold.

When demand for raw materials (such as steel) falls, it follows perfectly that manufacturing levels and output drops. As production drops the associated NOx, SOx and carbon emissions fall.

As emissions fall manufactures will be closer to, or even below their carbon target or ‘cap’ meaning there is an excess of tradable emission credits. With the carbon commodity being based on a liquid market – as demand falls, the price falls.

And this is clearly demonstrable over the last 4 weeks as the price of CERs has dropped from €16 to €11, which is a drop of over 30%.

To enable a recovery in carbon price we need manufacturing to up scale, which is all linked into the availability of credit and interbank loans – so get a move on and start lending!

By Clare Buxton & Steven Rogers
Sector Leads for Wind Energy & The Carbon Markets

Friday, 23 January 2009

Are the winds of fortune blowing in the direction of China?

With more and more frequency I hear about China when I’m on the internet catching up on news and development in the global Wind Energy market, or talking to professionals in the market place. Just this week I read about Gamesa winning an order for 347 turbines which will create an installed capacity of 295MW for a Chinese Wind farm owned by a major Chinese Electricity provider. Suzlon has also won 200MW+ orders from Chinese companies.

Photo by Clemson

ResearchInChina, a portal for business intelligence in China has released a new report: China Wind Power Industry Report, 2008. For details of this please see ResearchInChina’s report. In the report they say that at the end of 2007 China was one of the top five regions in terms of installed capacity, and they are continuing to invest and install more and more, on an ambitious race to become the global leader. China more than doubled its wind power capacity in 2008, installing 4.66GW of additional capacity and passing the government’s 10GW target two years ahead of schedule. (from Renewable Energy Information)

However, there’s something else bubbling on my radar. As I’ve talked to people about the Chinese market I’ve heard of a few doubts and concerns about the way the Chinese are going “guns blazing” into this market. Their installed MWs are impressive, but what about the MWhs (mega-watt hours)? Are they focused on building effective, efficient and reliable wind farms? Are the MWs being installed in an integral and profitable manner?

BP moved out of the Chinese market despite joint ventures being formed and deals done for about 150MW of wind capacity (but then they’ve left the UK too). I have heard further rumours that another global wind developer has decided not to pursue any further with their Chinese due diligence.

Is wind energy in China a political game (remember that the Chinese government had to order the closure of polluting factories during the Olympics because the smog over there is so bad) rather than a genuine desire to generate “clean” electricity? I tried to do a bit of background research on this to back up the rumours I’m hearing, but actually I’m not seeing a lot of hard evidence out there one way or the other.

Food for thought and an interesting space to watch. I’d be interested to hear your views and ideas on this.

By Clare Buxton
Wind Energy Sector Lead

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Can Obama make The Stars and Stripes green?

Today marks an important day in American history as Barack Obama is inaugurated into the White House, not only is he the first African-American to grace the White House but he is also the President who will design and implement the United States’ Climate Change policy.

Photo by Prince Roy

In a clear departure from previous US policies, President Obama sees clean energy and ‘green’ jobs as critical in stimulating the US economy. During the Presidential campaign he vowed to invest $150 billion in clean energy projects over 10 years and create 5 million new ‘green collar’ jobs. Remarkably it appears that President Obama plans to launch his Presidency with a daring idea: to link the American economy with energy sources not derived from fossil fuels.

The inward President is proposing that the relationship between the economy and the environment be reversed – no longer will environmental concerns be bullied and marginalised by the wider economy but they will take centre stage in driving recovery and growth in the US economy. This is a very exciting time to be involved in this industry!

What are people expecting to be delivered and implemented in his first term?

Below are a few of my thoughts on what I think may happen, but I would love some comments on what other people are expecting.

  • Alternative energy to be doubled in three years, which means increasing wind energy by 20GW and geothermal and solar power by 4GW. This will effectively maintain the current market growth rate rather than target sharper increases. My opinion is this demonstrates both the harsh economic climate we are in and how strongly Obama is committed to using clean technology to enable economic recovery.
  • The National Venture Capitalist Association states that roughly $30 billion will be spent by VCs (across all industries) before the year’s end, representing a drop of 10% from last year. The only industry that is predicted to receive investment growth is clean technology. The reason cited for this is Worldwide Governmental support, especially from the Obama administration. This means more technology ideas and solutions will be developed and makes me wonder what technology will be improving our lives in 4 or 5 years time.
  • Obama has assembled a “green dream team” that includes: Nobel physics laureate Stephen Chu to head the Energy Department; former environmental lawyer Ken Salazar, as Interior secretary; former New Jersey environmental chief, Lisa Jackson who will head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Nancy Sutley, the deputy mayor of Los Angeles to run the White House Council on Environmental Quality. And finally, John Holden, a Harvard university Climate Change expert as the Science Advisor to the White House. This calibre of team in any presidential administration would be exciting but following the Bush (wasted) years the level of policy change that is afoot is unprecedented.
  • And finally Senator John Kelly predicted that the U.S. Senate will let President Obama sign up to a U.N pact to fight global warming in late 2009 even if U.S. climate laws are not yet in place. This could mean that one of the Worlds largest GHG may have the basis of cap a trade system in place before the end of trade decade.

Exciting stuff! I wish to add my own, small welcome to the 44th President of the Untied States. Congratulations and best of luck President Obama.

His says he can – lets hope so!

By Steven Rogers
Sector Lead for Carbon & Engineering

Monday, 19 January 2009

Our hopes as Barack Obama takes office

As the world waits with baited breath - there has been a little brain storming in the EcoSearch office today...

Photo by dcJohn
Debby Lloyd
I'm hopeful that the USA positioning will change. Look at the Scots and how they see their in-country resources ... they could easily close the borders when the lights go out elsewhere in the country and their energy supply will be secure. If the USA invests in the natural resources available in their own country it equals less of a reliance on Oil and perhaps they will no longer have to be so aggressive around the protection of Oil resources (some may say flimsy excuses for entry into countries that have oil resources). So I hope the emphasis moves to one of "in country self sufficiency on energy supply". Let's phrase it ... Mobilised in a more positive way they can achieve and lead the world. Perhaps in a more positive way than they are seen by the rest of the world today. Good luck Obama, yes you can is my opinion.

Steven Rogers
I was pleased to see the news on Thursday that the US Senate will allow Obama to sign a UN pact to fight global warming late in '09, even if US climate laws are not in place by then.

Mark Sawyer
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has turned down the request to regulate carbon by the most populous state. Obama, however, can direct the agency to reverse course.

Clare Buxton
Obama will double wind power capacity in the next three years, which will mean continued growth in the US onshore market for wind turbine manufacturers, but will that mean that the European offshore market will lose out? Will the Turbine Manufacturers have the same incentive to develop new offshore technologies?

Katharine Robinson
I was impressed by how Obama has approached communication with the public during his campaign by using new media and embracing tools like Facebook and Twitter. I think his attitude has pushed many others to embrace new ways of communicating. I was pleased this week to notice some British MPs using these tools too – Our leaders need to be brought into the 21st century and encouraged to use the communication tools that have become mainstream in the last five years. I hope that as President we see more of this from Barack Obama.

You can follow the inauguration tomorrow on the BBC News website, with live text updates from 1500 GMT and streaming video from 1600 GMT.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Debby Lloyd Rants: CVs are real people too

Today I’m going to have a Jeremy Clarkson style rant on account of the activities I can see affecting candidates and clients in today’s marketplace, although I will take issue with Jeremy over his views on Green.

EcoSearch has known that is THE place to be for the last two years. There were those who thought we were opening some tofu eating hippy commune and as we are on New Greenham Park, former home of the Greenham Common women’s action group against Cruise Missiles – they probably had a point. Although Dale Vince I believe was keeping Swampy company at the same time on the A34 and look where he is today – counting UFOs – but that’s a different story for another day.

I ramble, anyway, the rest of the recruiting world has now woken up to the fact that renewable energy is where the action is.

Add in the impact of the credit crunch and this is what I’ve heard this week:

From EcoSearch Client A (in a similar Jeremy Clarkson style rant to me):

“Debby – you won’t believe this but I’ve seen one CV cross my desk this week by 4 different recruiters of a person we interviewed through you 3 months ago!”

Now what do you think he’s thinking a) about the recruiters and b) about the person who’s CV this is? More importantly what impact is this behaviour having on this person’s career? – Let’s not forget, we are dealing with real people with valuable careers to protect, although some people treat them as a paper commodity and I wont begin to go into the inordinate amount of time wasting for the client company. (I could even go into the ever expanding datacentre implication issues for data storage and energy consumption but that would be churlish).

From EcoSearch Client B:

“Debby, I am being hammered by recruiters offering me candidates that have no relevance to my business and don’t know the difference between a kw and a mw turbine. I don’t have the time, it’s such a distraction!”

From Clare – EcoSearch’s wind sector specialist (in a fist slamming, angry kind of way):

“Debby, this candidate has just found out his CV has been emailed “somewhere” into our client by a recruiter who hasn’t even had a conversation with him and qualified what career path he’s looking for and can’t tell him who its gone to or where it is” 

Cue EcoSearch team who break into Bridget Jones style cries of “No!” on a group basis across the EcoSearch office. Net result – this candidate hasn’t been positioned effectively in this organisation and will no doubt end up wasting his opportunity to entrĂ©e a great career. Not to mention the service level to the client which is clearly second rate.

Recently I’ve assisted a Candidate re-format his CV. Even when we are personally unable to place someone, it doesn’t mean we don’t help, especially where the candidate has been mutually helpful to us. The candidate’s new CV went up on Monster yesterday and in the space of 2 hours he had 16 recruiters “specialising in renewable energy” had given him a call. However, (with an incredulous look on face and raised voice):

“Debby – the quality of the conversation was so poor and some of them couldn’t even say Photovoltaic!”

But the absolute prize of the day is currently held by Steve – our carbon and engineering sector lead. Who had a “specialist renewable energy recruiter” ring him up today – having seen the jobs on our website (posted for our own client’s hiring needs) and ask if she could help us with our hiring needs …

“When she asked me what my job title was I told her ‘it’s the same as yours … Executive Search Consultant!’

Cue EcoSearch team group laughter and hilarity. Unfortunately in her haste to make the call, she thought we were a renewable energy company. I thought our website looked good, but maybe we should revisit it ….

So, to make sure you get the service you expect as a job seeker...

  • Demand written confirmation that your CV is not sent to any organisation without your prior knowledge. 
  • If it is, you can request they withdraw your CV - YOU choose who represents you. 
  • Work with your consultant in putting a defined list of target companies together.
  • Mark your CV up with big red letters “DO NOT SUBMIT WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT”.
  • Demand to know who is getting your CV (although email forwarding is uncontrollable to a certain extent).
  • You should receive written candidate service level terms of business from the company you work with or at the very least the consultant should have explained how they work, what to expect, timescales for working together and communication expectations.
  • Keep in regular touch – build the relationship. 
  • Don’t work with multiple recruiters at any one time. 
  • Use a specialist.
  • Any consultant with integrity will work with you on fully understanding your needs and making the most appropriate introduction. Anyone that only spends 15 minutes on the phone with you and wants you to tell them 50 companies you want to work with …. cue large ringing bells - run a mile

And for more information download the “recruiters – working with them” helpsheet below.

Recruiters - Working With Them

We can’t help everyone (as much as we’d like to), we aren’t perfect and we are not the fastest, but my goodness - some people need to raise their game out there … let’s keep it professional!

OK, I’m back to my desk now …

Thursday, 8 January 2009

UFOs?! What next...

Dale Vince, CEO of Ecotricity, found another opportunity to self-publicise, following sensationalist headlines hitting the press this morning:

“UFO hits wind turbine”
The Sun

“UFO claim over wind farm damage”
BBC News

“Wind turbine destroyed after ‘octopus UFO’ seen in sky"

“Inquiry launched into ‘UFO attack’ on turbine”

This all started after an investigation was launched this morning into how one of the 20 turbines at Ecotricity’s Consiholme wind farm (Fen Farm, total capacity of 16MW, running since 17 April 2008) came to be seriously damaged last night.

This morning the turbine was discovered with one of its blades “missing” (it had not disappeared as speculated by The Sun, but had fallen to the ground) and another seriously damaged.

Apparently locals claim to have seen bright lights in the sky, one witness describing it as "a massive ball of light with tentacles going right down to the ground". Hmmm sounds a bit like a neighboring turbine to me. The moon was bright last night, wasn’t it?

Dale Vince, Ecotricity’s CEO, encouraged the sensationalism, saying on The Today programme this morning: “We haven’t come up with an answer yet, the UFO theory is the best we’ve got”.

Nonetheless, this is not the first time a Wind turbine has suffered damage such as this, in fact sometimes it is far worse… In fact, take the liberty of searching “wind turbine failures” on and you will see many amateur videos of wind turbines “self destructing”. Normally the failures are caused by internal mechanical failures (brake failures, gear failures etc) or structural damage. The carbon fibre blades are extremely light and fragile (they need to be in order to generate maximum energy in low winds), if the braking mechanism in the wind turbine that limits the speed of the wind turbine breaks, then there is nothing to stop the blades spinning dangerously out of control and causing damage. (NB This happens very rarely; normally any deterioration would be detected by one of the remote monitoring systems). Or if a blade was suffering from structural fatigue, it could feasibly break away from the nacelle and damage another blade on the way down.

Now, I’m not a mechanical expert by any means and I would never claim to be, but I am tempted to believe that perhaps this mysterious damage to the Fen Farm wind turbine was caused by a mechanical failure rather than a UFO.
But a UFO makes a great bit of publicity, doesn’t it Dale? Well, here you go, this link to your blog is on us:

By Clare Buxton
Wind Energy Sector Lead at EcoSearch

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Boost your career in 2009 with LinkedIn

In my post on Looking for a ‘good’ green job I promised to write about using LinkedIn. has become the online business network of choice for many. It allows you to create an online profile and make it as visible as you wish. Apart from anything else it is a great place to keep contact details for all the key players in your network. You never know when you might leave that battered old filo-fax in the back of a taxi.

You might be asking “Why do I need a LinkedIn Profile?”

Are you legitimate? - If you call someone with a business proposition, they may well look you up on LinkedIn to find out more about you. It certainly happens a lot here at EcoSearch when we are looking for service providers to partner with.
Take a look at my LinkedIn profile and you will see how long I have been working at EcoSearch, what other experience I have and my educational background, as well as a whole wealth of other information.
Not only does it allow you to be found by those you already know, but people with potential opportunities can find you just by doing a search.

Growing your career – LinkedIn is now widely used by head hunters to identify individuals with the right profile to match senior level opportunities with companies they represent. Whilst being on LinkedIn will not guarantee that you will be approached by a head hunter, it will increase your chances of being noticed by people who can help you to progress your career at the right time for you.

Strengthening a connection - If you meet someone at an industry event or even on the train and they work in your niche, it can be easy to let that meeting be forgotten. Down the line potential opportunities for collaboration can be lost. If however you have a philosophy of connecting to everyone you meet on LinkedIn, you never lose their business card, or forget their name or which company they represent.
LinkedIn is reaching the point where the majority of savvy business people are signed up. There is no excuse for not using it to keep up to date with and to grow your network.

Wider networking - LinkedIn groups (discussion forums about a specific topic) have undergone a lot of change recently. Despite the number of groups you can join being capped at 50; I think most of these changes have been for the better. You can now search for relevant groups, start discussions and share ideas without leaving the site. This is a great way to interact with likeminded folks that you are not connected to. Often these can lead you to an external networking website with previously untapped potential.

Creating your profile

LinkedIn has acquired many more features recently so creating your profile may seem a little more daunting than it would have done six months ago. Let me assure you though, the new features make for a much more useful experience. Having a profile is worth the time investment.
Go along and hit the sign up button, the site is very user friendly and talks you through creating your profile. You can include as much or as little information about yourself as you like.

I would encourage you to think about a few key words that should be included in your profile. Try to include your job title (and any other ways your function might be described) as well as the sector you work in. If somebody is searching for a person like you, what keywords might they type into a search box?

Once you have a profile, start looking for people you know (you will probably be surprised by how many people are already there). Invite them to connect, and watch your network grow. Once you have a small network of contacts, you will have a pool to search and find useful folks that work in your field.

From there you can go on to join groups, ask questions or just network with your new community.

For great information straight from LinkedIn, check out their article Start 2009 Strong with LinkedIn. Let me know how you get on creating your profile and any benefits that come of it.

By Katharine Robinson
Research Associate at EcoSearch