Change Conservation Job Hunting Tactics

Change Conservation Job Hunting
Tactics During Challenging Times

by John Esson

If you are an aspiring wildlife biologist or ecologist, the job market has never been more challenging.  The Great Recession of 2007-2009 sharply reduced career opportunities over the recent few years. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Some diligent, resourceful, and fortunate biologists and conservation professionals found employment, and they now have several years of professional experience and are on their way to successful careers.

But too many college grads with wildlife biology, conservation biology and natural resources degrees are underemployed or working outside of their chosen profession.  There is a back log of qualified professionals who still yearn for a conservation career.

And now we have the Trump effect on conservation funding and careers.  Not good now.  Will get better.

It is time to rethink your career strategy and move out smarter with your job seeking tactics.

Survey after survey confirms that networking and referrals from those connections are the number one tactic to land a good job that can lead to great career. 

Participating in a professional association such as The Wildlife Society, Ecological Society of America, National Association of Environmental Professionals or similar organizations can help you make those important career connections.  

The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, this year in Albuquerque in September, is the place to connect with professionals from state and federal fisheries, wildlife and conservation agencies and environmental conservation consultants.  There is no better place to learn first-hand of the latest research, trends, and opportunities in the career field.

The Wildlife Society has a long history of reaching out to guide and assist upcoming biologists.  The Environmental Career Center even had the privilege of initiating and hosting a very successful wildlife careers seminar at the very first TWS Annual Conference in Albuquerque over 20 years ago. 

At this year’s Annual Conference, TWS is conducting three resume writing workshops to help attendees stand out from the crowd and give them an edge when applying to wildlife conservation and ecology career opportunities.

Humboldt State University natural resources career advisor Kristina will moderate the three sessions, which will guide students on resume and cover letter writing, interview strategies, and more. 

If you can’t make to your professional association’s annual conference this year, don’t give up.  Try something different.

Is there a local chapter of your professional association?  If so, why not work with that chapter and organize a career seminar to attract local and regional environmental conservation employers.  You will be inviting employers to an event where they can promote their organizations and help upcoming professionals. 

Your event will help local professional association may attract new members. They like that.

Chances are that you will add to career credentials by initiating, organizing and leading an event and will add some great employment-potential contacts to your network.

So, times are challenging for entry level job seekers in the environmental conservation career fields.  But inviting a few of your favorite employers to talk about their opportunities is a different path to connecting with key people and launching your career. 


John Esson is the Director of Environmental Career Center and Executive Director of PASE Corps