How to be an effective environmental science job candidate

In the past, climate science has been used to make job postings, or as a way to get promoted.

In a new study published in Science, researchers from Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University, and other institutions found that the way we talk about climate science, and how we think about it, can have an impact on how we’re evaluated for job offers.

And it may be a way for companies to “buy” the scientist’s expertise, or make it more valuable for the job search. 

The researchers analyzed the job postings of nearly 100,000 job seekers across the country, using data from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

They then used a tool called a Qualified Information Checklist (QIC), developed by researchers at the University of New Hampshire, to track the job seeker’s progress toward their career goal.

The results are shocking.

The researchers found that among the nearly 100 job seekers who posted their applications, nearly 40 percent were rejected because they did not meet certain requirements. 

One of the most common issues cited was that the candidate did not have an existing professional network.

Another common complaint was that they did too little research on climate change.

And finally, the researchers found the most commonly cited reason for rejection was “not fit for the role.” 

The research team also found that hiring managers often used a combination of the Qualified Info Checklist and other measures to determine whether a job candidate was “fit for the position.”

In some cases, they even found that these same hiring managers were actually considering the qualifications of the candidate.

“It seems that there’s a clear bias towards hiring for knowledge and experience, and not necessarily for scientific ability,” lead author James M. Kocher, an associate professor of marketing at the Harvard Graduate School of Business, said in a statement.

“This bias seems to be reinforced by hiring managers using the Qualifier Checklist in this context.” 

As far as how hiring managers used the Qualifiers, the research team found that when they were trying to determine if a candidate was qualified, they were more likely to ask whether the candidate had a degree from an accredited institution or whether they had published work on a topic that is not climate science.

The Qualifiers were also used by employers to determine how qualified they were to conduct interviews.

“The fact that the Qualifying criteria are used as an indicator of scientific knowledge and expertise is a major finding,” the authors wrote.

“For example, in a recent study, a recruiter asked candidates to identify the ‘most important factor in determining the hiring decision’ in the hiring process.

In another study, the Qualifications Checklist was used to determine the most important factor for interviewers to consider.” 

“These results suggest that a clear and specific approach to climate change hiring can have a strong impact on the quality of an applicant’s research and ultimately the quality and value of their job offer,” they added. 

In an email, Koccher said that the findings suggest that “climate change hiring is an important and fruitful field to explore in order to enhance the quality-assurance of our company’s climate change workforce.”

The authors also noted that the finding that hiring and evaluation biases are common in hiring, even in climate-science related fields, is important.

“One of our goals is to develop a climate change leadership program that encourages companies to understand the potential risks of climate change, to take action to mitigate them, and to invest in mitigating these risks, which could ultimately lead to better environmental outcomes,” Kocmer said. 

“Our findings suggest a need for climate change leaders to develop climate change training programs and programs of research and research and development that will help them identify, analyze, and evaluate potential risks to climate science.” 

But it’s not just hiring managers who may be taking advantage of the hiring bias.

Other research suggests that hiring decisions can be influenced by a number of factors besides job experience.

For example, a recent paper in the journal Human Nature found that “employers are more likely than non-employees to favor applicants who have had at least two prior climate change job offers.” 

So, it’s important to be careful when looking at the job applications of climate science experts.

But if you think you have what it takes to get the job, this study suggests that it’s worth doing a little research to get a better sense of how you might do it.