People see my LinkedIn profile and contact me fairly frequently for job search advice. I am always happy to take time out of my day to help others who are passionate about electric vehicles and thought I’d assemble some of my recommendations into a post.
- Why electric vehicles?
If you are thinking about going into this field you are on a path to a meaningful and fulfilling career where not only can you help the planet, but you can also potentially earn a decent living. The number of jobs in this industry has grown exponentially year-over-year and I don’t expect that trend to change. I also speak to industry folks all the time that are desperate for skilled job candidates. There is a huge need out there and not enough people to fill the need (yet)!
I absolutely love my career and I know you will too. However, if you are reading this post, you probably already know all of that. If you don’t know what is attracting you to the EV industry, I would make sure you have a good personal understanding of your motivations that will help shape everything from your cover letter to your interview.
- I want a job at Tesla
Tesla is a great company, but you should ask yourself why you are only targeting the most recognizable company. Is it because they are the only one you have heard of? I challenge you to explore the full breadth and depth of the electric vehicle industry. There are literally THOUSANDS of companies in the US alone that are directly involved in electric vehicle production, component manufacturing, charging infrastructure installation, research & development, trade, policy, and the list goes on. There are also countless other electric vehicle jobs that support the industry: utilities, research organizations, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, consulting firms, law firms, and the list goes on.
The best place to start to find all of these companies are electric vehicle conference or trade show websites, such as EVS, EV Roadmap, and NA Smart Energy Week. Conference websites usually prominently display all of the names of companies that sponsor or exhibit at the show. If a company has the $20,000 to $100,000+ to pay for a sponsorship or exhibit at a conference or trade show, then they likely have the money to hire you!
Another great place to find lists of companies? Electric vehicle membership-based organizations. Again, these organizations want to prominently display their members so they can recruit other members. Many times they will also have links directly to the company’s website.
- I don’t have a technical degree. Can I get into the electric vehicle industry?
Absolutely! Anyone can find a rewarding career in the field with any variety of backgrounds – including those who don’t have a post-secondary education.
There is a need for a wide variety of skills and educational backgrounds to make this industry work. Have a degree in economics? You are well-suited for a career in EV markets or business management. Have a high school degree and an interest in electrical work? You could be trained to be an electrician with a specialty in charging infrastructure. I will continue to expand on the variety of options in future posts, but suffice it to say, there are definitely options for everyone in this field.
- What is the best strategy to get a job in the renewable energy field?
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of networking. Network and attend events where you can meet other EV industry folks. I fell into this field completely by accident, but that is not the traditional path for most. If you want to be in this field, it helps to have an industry insider – someone willing to give you a reference, provide you with insights about particular companies and interview tips, and alert you to upcoming job postings.
There are many great EV networking options in most major cities. If you don’t have one in your area, I would recommend taking the time and spending the money to attend EV related conferences. Yes, it is expensive if you are paying for it out of pocket, but making those connections is absolutely priceless.
- Get something on your resume with the words “electric vehicle” in it.
Even if it is just one class, one paper, one membership to an EV group, or one conference attendance, you need SOMETHING related to EVs on your resume. If you don’t have an EV background or experience it makes it more difficult to penetrate the industry. Having those words on your resume indicates that you have a desire to be in the industry and it will go a long way towards getting an interview.
- Get more help!
Speaking of help, my tips are largely due in part to the excellent guidance of a free job counseling service offered through my local library many years back. I would recommend that you check to see if similar services are offered through your library or other organizations. For example, I learned everything I know about a career portfolio from the library – check it out online if you don’t know what that is.
Second, I would recommend enlisting the help of a friend or family worker that is an excellent editor and can help review your resume and cover letter for both grammar and flow. If you don’t have someone like that in your life, there are a litany of online resume services (or libraries) that can help.
Finally, I would identify at least two to three former colleagues or managers that you know will be a good and reliable reference for your job search. When I had an interview, I got in the habit of giving my references a heads up and coaching them on particular skill, project, or accomplishment that I wanted them to highlight. This could be especially useful if you are getting into a new field. For example, if you have a former manager touting what a quick learner you are or how interested you were in the EV industry, that could go a long way to making up any shortcomings you may have related to industry experience.
- Practice makes perfect!
Interviews can be really stressful! There are some great tips out there on how to perform well in interviews, but I can’t stress enough the need to prepare for situational questions. There are about 20-30 common situational questions that many employers will use – have a prepared (and practiced) answer ready for each of them. The more you could apply those answers directly with any knowledge you have about the organization (hopefully derived from your ‘capture’ – or from the research you have done about the field/organization) the better. Also, enthusiasm and genuine curiosity can help. If you are excited about the opportunity and the industry, it could distinguish you from other applicants.
- Tune in to industry news.
That said, it also helps when you can draw upon your knowledge of current events in conversations with industry experts. It not only demonstrates an interest in the topic, but gives you more insight into the field. There are a slew of free online resources that can be sent directly to your inbox on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis in a variety of mediums. If you don’t have much time to read, perhaps try out a podcast on your weekly commute or listen to a free webinar on your lunch break.
Some of my personal favorite resources include the weekly Energy Gang Podcast, UtilityDive, Atlas EV Hub, Forth and Electrification Coalition e-newsletters, and dedicated EV websites like Electrek and Charged EVs. I also find scanning the headlines on LinkedIn can be really helpful – especially when you are strapped for time.
- Take advantage of local job training programs.
Across the country, a number of clean energy job training programs have sprouted as demand grows. See what is available through your local employment or career development office, local universities or colleges, and non-profits specializing in clean energy training, such as the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and Grid Alternatives, which provides hands-on training through volunteering. Here are a few other job training resources I’d recommend checking out: U.S. Department of Energy, Renewable Energy World, and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. This EV report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics also provides a good overview of job training centers and potential EV careers.
- Be patient and pick the job that is right for you.
I know we all don’t have the luxury of waiting to find the perfect job if rent is due and our credit card payment is late. However, if you are in a position to pick and choose, I would highly recommend asking the right questions and getting the best information you can from your interviews and your network. You want a job that will help you to build the skills and the expertise you need to strongly position yourself in the EV sector. For example, my first job in the industry allowed me to learn a lot about clean energy and clean transportation and network with a wide variety of stakeholders. It was an amazing foundation that continues to serve me well today.
Building your skill set and subject matter expertise will help you to advance your career – either within your current organization or with a different employer. If possible, don’t settle for something that you know won’t make you happy or provide you with that foundation.