To those solar professionals with NABCEP Board Certification, congratulations! Whether you just passed a NABCEP exam or have had certification for years, it’s important to know how to leverage it to get what you ultimately want: a better job. To help you through this, we’re going to give you a step-by-step guide to differentiating yourself from the competition as a NABCEP Board Certified Professional and landing a better career in the renewable energy industry.
After obtaining your NABCEP Board Certification, we first recommend building your personal brand as a professional. The easiest way to start this process is to add your NABCEP Board Certification digital badge to your email signature. NABCEP is in the final stages of launching digital badges for Board Certified Professionals, which will provide you with a custom logo that links to your digital badge profile. The profile describes the knowledge and skills necessary to earn a NABCEP Board Certification and has other beneficial functions. If you have multiple email addresses, be sure to add your digital badge to each so your friends, colleagues and others see that you earned one of NABCEP’s rigorous Board Certifications.
The next step in the process is to manage your personal brand on social media sites. If you’re not already signed up on social media, open accounts now to build and manage your professional audience. Job recruiters nowadays will almost certainly look at applicants’ media footprints, so you’ll want to show you’re an active professional who takes your career and professional growth seriously. We recommend using a professional-looking photo of yourself as the profile picture on these sites, adding your digital NABCEP badge, creating professional posts, joining relevant social media-based professional groups and contributing to conversations in a respectful and professional manner. It’s also critically important to go back through your social media accounts and remove any potential red flags. If there are pictures of you in less-than-professional settings, remove them or un-tag yourself. Unprofessional posts could tarnish your personal brand and instantly remove you from consideration for top-level positions.
Once you’ve started to build your social media brand, it’s time to update your résumé. Add your NABCEP Board Certification logo and number to your résumé and list your skills and knowledge related to the certification. We also recommend creating an online portfolio of your projects with pictures and bulleted lists of your responsibilities and accomplishments. Add that portfolio link to your résumé and social media sites. Anyone can claim to know what they’re doing on renewable energy projects, so it’s helpful to show recruiters what you’ve done to stand out from the crowd.
Now you’ll want to start looking for job opportunities. One tempting strategy when applying to jobs is to click “Apply Now” for every job, and then research the company after getting a response. While that can work, you run the risk of negatively impacting your reputation by over-applying and losing the respect of recruiters who see your name all the time. Instead, we recommend that you research companies to find the right fit before applying. You can find a lot of information about companies online, including company reviews on various job boards that can be enlightening. Here are some questions you’ll want to keep in mind while researching companies:
- What does the company do?
- How long has the company been in business?
- Is there a history of downsizing?
- What is it like to work there? What’s the company culture?
- What kind of people does the company typically hire?
- Do I know anyone who currently works there?
The results of your research will help you narrow down the companies you think would be a good fit. If the company is specifically looking for NABCEP Board Certified Professionals, that’s usually a good sign it is committed to quality and follows best practices.
Once you’ve made contact with a recruiter, the final step is to nail your job interview. We recommend going prepared and professional. Dress professionally and bring at least six copies of your résumé to the interview with at least one copy of your professional references. We also recommend printing your renewable energy portfolio and placing your documents in an attractive binder. It’s also critical to arrive with questions about the company and how it supports its employees’ growth. Continuing education is critical in this field and to maintain your NABCEP Board Certification, so it’s good to know if the company supports your continued professional development.
Good luck on your job search. Getting NABCEP certified already has you on the right track!
Dan Pickel, program manager at NABCEP, will be contributing training columns to Solar Power World throughout the next year.