Adventures in Hiring at Energy Circle (or How Not To Do Stupid Things) | Energy Circle, LLC

Adventures in Hiring at Energy Circle (or How Not To Do Stupid Things)

Peter Troast

The team at Energy Circle doubled in 2014, and we will continue to expand our capabilities in 2015.

We think our mission of addressing energy use and carbon contribution of the built environment is urgent and critically important, and we also think that Energy Circle is an awfully special place to work. So it is an understatement to say that we are thorough, deliberate and selective in our hiring process.

Typically, we get hundreds of applications for one position, so we're fortunate. Each new person matters a lot, and we want great people--smart creatives who want to change the world. I view stewarding the culture and performance of EC staff as one of my most important jobs.

I’ve looked at many hundreds of applications over the last couple years. For those of you smart or lucky enough to have found your way to this page, here are some tips from my own adventures in hiring.

Don’t Do Stupid Things

It is remarkable how many submissions get immediately dismissed by stupid things. We’re forgiving people, and we look for the good in folks, particularly for candidates that show strong potential talent or intellect. But to borrow from our friend, client and hero Joe Lstiburek’s mantra for buildings, don’t do stupid things. I’m stunned by some of the things people submit in their application packages. Stupid things include:

  • Typos and grammatically incorrect writing. We consider writing a universal skill regardless of position. It matters a lot.

  • Resumes titled “Resume for _________ Positions”. We’re looking for people who are focused, passionate and on their way to becoming experts in their field. When you telegraph that you have flavors of your resume, it tells us that you aren’t focused.

  • Resumes in Word. OK, this is admittedly a bit of a Peter pet peeve, but are you expecting me to edit it?

  • Resume files  titled: “resume”. For the love of Mary, put your bloody name on your resume.

  • Typographically horrific resumes. I’m like Steve Jobs on this. I’m not expecting you to be a designer, but good communications means good information design, and I expect that you will know something about type selection and hierarchy.

You Should Really, Really Want to Work Here

This is a big deal. I get that people in the job hunt need to get lots of resumes out there, but Energy Circle is a very bad place to “lob in” your resume. We’re very transparent about our culture, the things that matter to us, and our mission in the world. If you don’t make reference to these things, or show us that you’ve done your homework on us, we won’t take your application seriously.

We say not to call, because we’re busy, but if you really want to work at Energy Circle, you should show some hunger for the position. We’ll respect it. Are you capable of professional persistence? That is a very important skill in life.

We’re open that not everyone needs to be as passionate about energy efficiency, healthy buildings and climate change as we are, but if you say nothing about this, you’re unlikely to make it past first review.

Do You Have Some Splaining to Do?

The first scan of a resume, after some of the things mentioned above, looks at the continuity and flow of what you’ve done in your career. If there are things on your resume that need some “splaining” (as Ricky Ricardo would say), then address them directly. Did your most recent job just end? Tell us what happened. We have to know eventually. Is there a big gap in time because you raised kids? We value that enormously. Just tell us. Are the terms of your positions short? Well, if that’s because you had to move to care for a sick relative, we should know. Otherwise, we’ll assume you’re a job hopper.

Digital Citizenry

Along with writing skills, a universal trait of folks at Energy Circle is that they are digital citizens. No, we’re not measuring you on the number of followers you have on twitter, per se. We’re interested in your social media IQ and that means you need to be in the game. We’ve had applications from people not on LinkedIn for a digital marketing job. Are you kidding? Yes, we’re likely to hunt around and uncover some of that social media behavior you probably regretted the morning after. Having some fun is most definitely not a deal breaker at Energy Circle; a social media presence that is dominantly an homage to beer or weed is. Maybe it’s time to grow up.


Responsiveness is a core value at Energy Circle. Our interviews and preliminary screening calls will very often expose where we see the strengths and weaknesses of your application. Of course, we expect a followup email of some kind after you've met with us (and it's the kiss of death for people who drop this ball) but we're also looking for substance in that response. We had a provocative discussion, talked about some things, offered you a chance to ask questions and probably told you where your candidacy was lacking. Respond!

Hunt Down the Hints

There are some easter eggs in the Jobs section of Energy Circle--content and guidance that anyone doing serious research on us will find. We make these easter eggs slightly harder and less obvious as a test of how serious you are. Thoroughly understanding an opportunity like a new job is not much different than researching a particularly wicked marketing problem for a client. Are you thorough and hungry enough to be looking for that key competitive advantage? Did you take the time to understand this place that you could potentially spend your life working at?

Good luck!

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