We all know that the solar industry, particularly in the UK has lost a significant number of jobs in the last nine months. We also know that energy storage is the hottest of hot topics at present, and a sector predicted to see substantial growth. However, as I’ve written before, the number of jobs available in the storage sector doesn’t come close to the number of solar jobs lost. Demand outstrips supply. What is more, many of the jobs lost to solar do not lend themselves to transfer to the storage sector, for an obvious example think roofer.
Many skills and experiences learnt from solar in the last few years can though, with thought, open doors to you for a career in the nascent energy storage market. In fact many of the placements we’ve made in the energy storage sector in the last year have moved excellent candidates from the solar market. Clearly though it’s going to be a competitive jobs market. I get approached by many candidates from solar thinking that in itself makes them perfect for a job in storage. Sadly, that’s not always enough, you will be competing for jobs with other candidates from solar and from other sectors; wind, grid services, building automation and power electronics to name a few.
So in this competitive market, what can you do to get ahead? Here are some tips.
- Research. It is a dynamic and broad industry, much more so than solar, not only are there different scales, residential, commercial and utility, there are many differing technologies. Energy storage does not = batteries, though of course they are the dominant technology at play presently; though not by scale, that goes by a country mile to pumped hydro. So, research and read to be sure you know more than the other candidates that you’ll be up against. Read about the technologies and case studies, but read about the market too. Who are the main players, who are the interesting start-ups, who is buying or investing in who?
- Think. Use your research to think of ways your previous experience can be most relevant to the energy storage sector. What scale best suits for starters. What qualifications do you have, who have been your main customers or contacts? When recruiting a hiring manager will want to see at least 70% of the skills and experience of their ‘ideal candidate’ in you. So if you are missing energy storage experience, how can you show you have the majority of the other 70% they want to see.
- Train. Look at possible training courses, particularly if you have a technical background. Can you add to or update existing qualifications? Are there online or Open University courses you can take advantage of. Take part in industry and manufacturer webinars. Energy storage will become a significant employer, it’s worth investing in your career now. In such a young market, starting now will already give you a big advantage over someone who starts in six months’ time.
- Network. Continue to build relationships with people in the whole clean energy sector, attend conferences, join relevant Linked In, or other online groups and forums. Keep in touch with former colleagues and employers, customers and suppliers. You just don’t know who will get the ‘break’ into storage first, and who might be able to open doors for you in the future.
- Take Care. Of course if you are out of work it can be more difficult, but in any situation I always advise candidates to take care with their career. It’s a precious thing, lottery or rich spouse aside it’s the only thing that will pay your bills and feed your family. The better you treat your career, the better it will treat you. Before applying to a job do some research (again). Of course look into the company and its products and services, but look into the job description too, and the requirements. It’s good to be ambitious, and to aim high, but remember that 70% rule. If you really don’t meet many of the criteria for a job don’t apply, you’ll just hack off the hiring manager, and they might just remember you for the wrong reasons when you apply for a job that you do meet the requirement of. Just because you can apply (usually with just one click) it doesn’t mean you should!
Hopefully you’ll find these useful, though as with most of the best advice in life, it’s just common sense. And keep your options open, whilst 80% of our placements are currently in the storage sector, solar isn’t dead, and it will grow again, and there are many other clean energy technologies that might just be perfect for you. Do your research, or did I mention that already?!!