- The Big Tech layoffs have sweetened the talent pool for climate startups and venture-capital firms.
- Thousands of roles like engineering, HR, and sales are open, according to the site Climate Draft.
- One recent climate-tech hire told Insider he was looking for a career with more purpose.
The layoffs from tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon might be beneficial to the planet.
Climate startups now have a growing talent pool to choose from, and hiring is picking up, according to recruiters, venture capitalists, and workers who already made the jump from Big Tech to climate tech.
“Over the last year, people were already leaving mainstream tech to come into the climate space,” Veery Maxwell, a partner at Galvanize Climate Solutions, a global investment firm focused on climate tech, told Insider. “Now it’s like a fire hose has been turned on because of the layoffs. The quality of talent and ease of recruiting has been tremendous.”
Climate Draft, a coalition of climate-tech companies and venture capitalists, which launched last year to attract more talent to the sector, saw a big spike in interest during the first wave of tech layoffs in November, Jonathan Strauss, Climate Draft’s cofounder and CEO, told Insider. In November alone, he said, more than 32,000 visitors came to the site and 3,000 people joined the network.
The site’s job board lists thousands of open roles at more than 400 companies across its network. More than 200 people showed up to recent career meetups in San Francisco and New York City, Strauss said.
“Since so many of us in climate have come from tech (myself included), there has been tremendous support from all corners of the climate community to welcome and assist tech workers interested in making the leap,” he said in an email.
Climate Draft’s job listings show that companies are looking for software engineers, HR experts, sales people, as well as those in marketing and finance. Mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineers are also in demand. Several employees said the positions have salaries and benefits competitive with mainstream tech giants, though the stock options will be different at a startup that isn’t public yet.
Kevin Cianfarini, 27, is a senior Android developer at Octopus Energy, a renewable-energy supplier. He made the jump to a company focused on decarbonization because he became passionate about solving the climate crisis after doing some research and getting politically engaged. Cianfarini said his previous role at a fintech company didn’t fulfill that mission.
Cianfarini joined Octopus Energy in March 2022 and said his job search dispelled some misconceptions about working in the climate space.
He didn’t have to take a pay cut, but rather, received multiple offers with higher salaries. Cianfarini told Insider his salary is $185,000 a year plus a $40,000 stock option grant that vests over four years.
Also, the programming language he mastered in his prior role was transferable to climate companies. Cianfarini said he didn’t realize how important mobile applications are to the energy transition. He is working on Octopus Energy’s app that informs customers in near real-time about how to optimize their electricity use for when renewables are plentiful and costs are cheaper because demand is low.
“Compare that to my utility Dominion Energy in Virginia,” Cianfarini said. “My energy bills are like a black box and only show up once a month.”
Cianfarini added people don’t need to feel as strongly about the climate crisis as he does to join the field. His day to day at Octopus Energy is very similar to his prior job.
“It just so happens that my efforts every day are working towards a goal that will serve my children,” he said.
Still, employees are searching for careers that serve higher purposes, in part because the pandemic made people reevaluate what’s important, said Haley Friary, chief people person at CarbonFree, a carbon-capture and -storage startup. This trend makes climate tech an attractive option, she said.
“I think people aren’t as interested in going after individual customers for a commercial return,” Friary said. “They want to work on something that’s commercially successful, but also serves the planet and offers them personally something more fulfilling.”