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Expand Your Job Reach by Going Green or Bilingual

Going GreenTo quote Jerry Lee Lewis, “There’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on” in the global economy. The financial services industry is being turned inside out, stock markets are taking investors on bungee-cord rides, and the U.S. government is turning itself into a money machine to help loosen up credit to prevent a wider calamity.

It’s all unnerving, thinking about how it might affect your job, your industry, or even your dreams of retiring as the value of your nest egg erodes.

So, you’ve probably heard it before but it bears repeating: Don’t bank on your employer to take charge of your career. You need to do that!

Here are two emerging areas you may want to consider in taking charge of your career: the rise of “green” jobs and foreign-language fluency.

The Rise of “Green” Jobs

Hardly anyone would disagree that global climate change is a phenomenon that requires urgent action throughout the world. Plus, the run-up in oil prices earlier this year unleashed a renewed call for alternative energy.

In the U.S., expect the next president to lead efforts for alternative energy sources and more conservation. Any action may open the door to more businesses and jobs that will lessen dependence on fossil fuels, especially if they come from abroad.

On the web, you’ll find several sites dedicated to so-called “green collar” jobs, many of which look for people with engineering, project management, and back-office skills that you may have from other industries. Two notable sites are Greenjobs and Green Jobs Network.

Foreign-Language Fluency

Like it or not, we’re working in a global economy, and some businesses look for talent with fluency in a second language, notably Spanish in the U.S., given the growing Hispanic population. But with many U.S. businesses outsourcing or opening operations in China, there’s a growing need for people who know Mandarin Chinese. It’s booming in British schools, and making inroads into U.S. classrooms. For instance, my local public school system launched a Mandarin Chinese program at the middle-school level three years ago.

You don’t need to think too long or hard to come up with businesses and industries that can benefit from staffers with knowledge of foreign languages. Think about customer service departments, global purchasing organizations, and outsourcing relationship management functions, to name a few.

Globalization and “going green” show no signs of slowing down. If either of these up-and-coming areas strikes a chord with you, now's the time to brush up your skills, take a course, or join a group that's involved in these initiatives.

Have you or anyone you know landed a “green” job or something in which knowledge of a second language helped? Please share with us.

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