How To Find and Hire Best In Class Talent For Your Climate Tech Startup

Discover proven strategies to recruit top-tier talent for your climate tech startup. Elevate your team and drive success with MSH's expert insights.

Oz Rashid
Apr 15, 2023
# mins
How To Find and Hire Best In Class Talent For Your Climate Tech Startup

How To Find and Hire Best In Class Talent For Your Climate Tech Startup

Discover proven strategies to recruit top-tier talent for your climate tech startup. Elevate your team and drive success with MSH's expert insights.

How To Find and Hire Best In Class Talent For Your Climate Tech Startup

Discover proven strategies to recruit top-tier talent for your climate tech startup. Elevate your team and drive success with MSH's expert insights.

It’s fun and exciting to be a part of any startup - working tirelessly with only a few others to advance a mission you all believe in. 

Multiply that feeling by 100 to try and capture the overall sentiment of the dedicated folks working in today’s hottest climate tech startups (and environmental nonprofits). Out to change the world, they’re also witnessing an influx of extremely professional and talented candidates amidst a workforce transition who large tech companies have recently laid off. 

Needless to say, the industry is taking off, and it’s an exhilarating time to be involved with climate tech recruiting. Leaders in these startups must capitalize on this unique opportunity to snatch up top talent while they can to help their fledgling companies achieve success - both for themselves and for the betterment of the world.

The Industry Is Shifting

As anyone working in the climate technology space already knows, the field is growing… and rapidly. Despite a rocky economic backdrop, VC firms invested a stunning $70.1B in climate tech startups globally during 2022, according to a report by HolonIQ. We’re talking about an increase of 89% compared to 2021 and more than 40x what was being invested in the industry back in 2013. And as climate change continues to worsen, the demand for solutions from climate tech companies - and hence, investments in these types of companies - will only rise. 

Since 2019, the U.S. has been leading the charge - taking over the top spot from China after regulation changes enabled corporate and state-sponsored entities to invest in climate tech startups alongside traditional VCs. As of later this year, the country is expected to have invested more than $100B in the industry since 2010. Clearly, these aren’t meager numbers. Governments, corporations, and investors appear to have recognized both the necessity and inherent potential of the climate tech space - and they’re lending their substantial financial backing to the cause.

Climate tech startups are responding in kind by hiring more employees and quickly building their teams. When it comes to climate tech recruitment, there’s been a corresponding uptick in hiring demands as the technologies scale, but climate jobs are a niche market that lacks an abundance of candidates with direct knowledge and experience in climate tech. This is where climate tech recruiters that focus specifically on filling climate tech jobs can come in handy and be especially helpful to a startup in this space.  

Unique Challenges For Climate Tech Hiring

Many climate tech organizations are urgently trying to hire, especially in light of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announcing that action must be taken to stop the rise of our global temperature before 2030 or we risk irreversible damages. But given that the climate science industry is just starting to really flourish and is continually shifting, these companies are coming up against multiple obstacles. 

Let’s dive into some of these hiring challenges to gain a better understanding of how leaders in climate tech startups can combat them.

Overcoming the Lack of Experience Among Candidates

One of the primary difficulties in hiring for climate technology solutions - and for the broader clean tech industry as well - is finding candidates who have the right type of experience. Since these industries are just emerging in more recent years, most people don’t have a track history in them. The key here is for your recruiters to seek out potential "climate people" who possess transferable skills that suit the role(s) you’re looking to fill. 

Meeting the Challenge of Sourcing Diverse Talent

No matter the industry, DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) must be top of mind as any startup recruitment strategy is developed and implemented. When it’s already a challenge to find any qualified candidates in the first place, it can be even more difficult to satisfy the added requirement that they be sourced from different backgrounds. Working with a recruitment firm that has access to an extensive candidate network can help resolve this dilemma. 

Conveying the Nuances of the Climate Tech Industry

Fortunately, there are lots of candidates who are qualified to work in climate tech, albeit with transferable skills from other industries like big tech. But they aren’t necessarily adept at understanding the nuances, terminology, and complexities that are found in this emerging industry. Partnering with a firm that specializes in climate tech recruiting can make the whole process easier because the recruiters are already familiar with these concepts and can accurately convey them to any interested job candidates.  

Your New Climate Tech Recruiting Strategy

Since the hiring environment in the renewable energy space isn’t always easy to navigate, it can be helpful to establish a defined recruiting strategy whether your company chooses to utilize an in-house recruiting team or an external recruitment firm. Outlined below are several highly effective climate tech-specific recruiting tactics that can be leveraged to achieve all of your hiring objectives and position your organization for success.  

1. Lean Into Your Mission as Part of Your Employer Brand

It’s crucial to hire people who believe in the mission that drives your startup. After all, the passion and beliefs that your current leaders and employees share about the importance of green energy and the methods your startup employs to develop climate solutions are integral to your company’s core DNA. As your recruiters search for qualified candidates, they must accurately convey these overarching ideas and goals to them and then identify those prospects who also embrace the same ideals. 

2. Establish a Strong EVP Centered Around the Good the Hire Will Do

Climate tech startups should partner with recruiters who help them develop solid Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) that highlight all the good a new employee will accomplish through their work. Unlike a lot of other industries and companies, your startup has an edge in that its mission benefits the entire human race and the planet. Many high-quality candidates will be attracted to this kind of meaningful work.    

3. Identify and Key in on Valuable Transferable Skills

The inescapable fact is that a lot of viable candidates will lack direct experience in climate tech, sustainability, and renewable energy. As a result, it’s imperative that your recruiters identify skills that will translate well so they don’t mistakenly overlook folks who are a good fit. Also, it’s important to note that not all of the openings in climate tech firms are for technical roles; hiring for sales, finance, operations, and business development positions, for example, won’t require specialized climate or technical expertise.

4. Source Talent in Niche Communities and Meetups

Vibrant online communities that share a common interest in clean tech and it's impact on the global economy can be a great place to find potential job candidates, in addition to industry-specific job boards and directories. Sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out where more people of the same ilk congregate and hang out. One of the benefits of partnering with a recruitment firm that works with climate tech companies is that they know where to find these kinds of candidates, saving your company valuable time, money, and resources.

5. Highlight a Clear and Fast-Moving Career Path 

One way to entice promising prospective employees to this fast-growing field is to clearly outline a career path for them within your company that matches the propace of the field. Show them how they will benefit as your startup scales. Ultimately, this may lead them to choose a job in the climate tech space (perhaps with you) versus a slower-moving one in another non clean energy related industries.

6. Measure Your Recruiting Success Using Metrics

Finally, as your company travels along its recruitment journey, it’s essential to measure its progress using specific KPIs and metrics. Talent acquisition KPIs can help climate and clean tech organizations pinpoint and eliminate weak spots in their recruitment process. Some common KPIs include CNPS, time to value, replacement value, quality of hire, employee turnover rate, and time to hire.   

Our Mission Is To Help You Scale Your Impact

Despite all the challenges that currently exist in climate tech recruitment, it’s 100% possible for early-stage companies to leverage the above techniques and attract best-in-class talent. There are definitely top-notch candidates out there who would love to share in the excitement of building a company that is out to change the world.  

Here at MSH we understand the desire to fulfill a mission that you deeply believe in - one that does good in the world and helps others. We understand because we are similarly value- and mission-driven, working with our clients to solve their most pressing and complex human capital, technology, and business transformation challenges. 

Our team revels in any opportunity we get to support companies in this space with finding new hires who are smart, loyal, and passionate about green energy and building a more sustainable future. Contact us today to find out more about what MSH can do for you.

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