Get Ready to Get a Job
Getting a job in Natural Resource Management is not as simple as just getting the education and experience. You have to be ready to apply for the job you want, and that takes preparation.
The Steps to Get a Job:
To get a great job, you need a great resume. A resume is built over time. It is not something easily created the night before a job application is due. A resume is a detailed list of your education and experience. After you create your resume for the first time, you add on to it over the years. When you look at an example of a resume, don’t be intimidated. Everyone started out as a student with limited experience. Everyone builds their resume one degree, one experience, and one job at a time.
Resumes are divided into sections such as: Education; Work Experience; and Other Experience. They always have your contact information at the top and a list of references with their contact information at the bottom. For jobs with federal agencies like the Forest Service, it is important to put the start and end dates for each item listed and/or how many hours total you worked on that task. Those agencies give you points for how long you have done a specific task: 1 day, 3 months, 2 years, etc.
Click here to see a sample student resume.
Do you know someone who has a job you’d like to have someday?
Set up an appointment to meet with that person and find out what he/she did to get that job. If they are hiring people, what are they looking for? What does his/her resume look like? Are there any opportunities to volunteer for that person to gain experience and build your resume? Get on any email lists that person may have for being informed about volunteer work, hiring fairs, and job openings. Send a thank you email or card to anyone who helps you along the way. Stay in touch.
Be friendly, respectful, dress nicely, and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. You never know when someone you meet on a field trip or volunteer workday will be hiring, or know of a job that fits your interests. Ask for business cards and keep them organized in a safe place. On occasion, you can write an email to people you have met letting them know how you are progressing with your education and about the skills you are gaining. You can check in with these people and ask if there are any jobs in your area of interest. Volunteering is also a great way to meet people, gain experience, and get a job later. Employers love to hire someone they know and who has worked for the agency before as an employee or a volunteer.
Make contact with your local Natural Resource Management offices – such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, NM State Department of Environment – and ask to have your email added to the list of people who are informed when there is a job opening. Ask how to find out about jobs you are interested in. You may be directed to the Human Resources department; you may be introduced to people who have jobs in your area of interest. Ask them all to keep you notified about job openings.
Unless you attend a Hiring Fair, you have to use the online hiring portal called USA Jobs to apply for a job with a Federal Natural Resource Management agency. When you are in the job-hunting phase, play around on USA Jobs so you can get a feel for how to search for jobs in your state, with the agency of your choice, and in your area of interest. You also have to check USA Jobs regularly to find out about new positions, or sign up to have them emailed to you.
Pay close attention to the “Closing Date” listed for each job. That is the deadline to apply. For some jobs with the Forest Service, for example, a job may be “listed” (open to applications) for only a week. So, you have to be looking, and you have to be ready to apply. This is when your contacts can give you a heads-up about a position before it is even posted on USA Jobs. That is why networking is so important.
One last hint, rather than using the online program to enter all your experience, you can tweak your resume for each position and simply upload your updated resume. Make sure your resume specifically covers the qualifications listed for the job. You should also include a cover letter summarizing your qualifications for the specific position (see link under Resume for an example).
Some agencies, such as the Forest Service, have Hiring Fairs where you can apply for jobs in person. This shortcuts the need to apply for jobs online via USA Jobs and there is often less competition for each job. Usually, the Forest Service sends out the word via its list-serves that a Hiring Fair is coming up. The location of Hiring Fairs changes each year: New Mexico, California, Arizona, etc. If a position you want is accepting applications at a Hiring Fair, it may be worthwhile to fly there. Practice your interview skills, bring several copies of your resume, and dress professionally. One CCC student got a full-time job with the Forest Service in Questa, NM, by flying to a hiring fair in Fresno, California!
Pathways Positions target students or recent graduates and fast-track them into a full-time career with a Natural Resource Agency. Some Pathways Positions allow you to keep going to school full-time and work when you aren’t in school. Keep your eye out for Pathways Positions. Getting a Pathways Position is about as good as it can get and CCC students have gotten these to work for the Forest Service!