Archive for the ‘Tricks of the Trade’ Category

The Way We Hire Is All Wrong

It’s an abomination and a pity the way companies hire today.

I still think the best opportunity for a prospective candidate navigating the HR-gauntlet is via the face-to-face, informational interview—having a low-no risk conversation with a prospective hiring manager. I mean let’s be honest, if they are even crafted well, most job descriptions are just wish lists.

Rarely, if ever, in my tenure during the dot-com(edy) did a candidate I interview meet the 100% skills set wish list job description. And, everyone I eventually hired ended up being a worthwhile investment, because my staff and I would have conversations abundant with situational scenarios one might see on the job, allowing the candidate to be herself/hisself. 

Although this read is dated (2014), I think it’s timely, and I could not have said it better…


No matter how beautifully we may present ourselves, the current hiring process makes finding work a challenge. In 2005, a firm ran a “mystery shopper” experiment with more than 100 healthcare employers. Professionals posing as job candidates applied for work with tailored resumes showing skills that matched or exceeded the posted job requirements. Yet 88% of the candidates were rejected. Even perfect applicants don’t get interviews.

How to hire good people instead of nice people

I wished everyone hired like this. Someone who believes ‘attitude and aptitude trump education and experience.’ And someone who prefers to have a conversation vs. a formulaic interview.

I’m not sure why employers make job seekers win a bad game i.e. interviews, before they will consider hiring them.

It’s refreshing when I cross paths with a prospective employer who is open to a conversational dialogue exchange when we are both discerning if the job being presented will be mutually beneficial–a company that ‘serves a much broader slice of humanity.’ My kind of establishment. And so it goes…

…I had an opportunity to commence developing this opportunity at Staffup SF on 1 Nov. My posse and I are going for the A grade and working on a schema. Our ‘business card’, which is a part of the Wiggly World Wide Web is here.


Kicking Down the Door to the Hidden Job Market

About two weeks ago, this nugget came into my LinkedIn Articles queue. Really good tactics and some sobering realities in this read:

 Kicking Down the Door to the Hidden Job Market

NB: Since 2006, all of my contract work has come either via folks contacting me in the matrix,  from direct/personal referrals or via networking.

Plan F :: I lament — Wondering if and when the Hybrid Renewable Energy Engineer job description will become a norm…

Some wonder why I persist in having such a difficult time landing work as a hybrid renewable energy engineer. Perhaps if I were of the business developer, marketing, sales or policy ilk, I’d have more work than I knew what to do with. But I am an R&D anomaly and not readily embraced. So, I need to continue to try to be patient to let people catch up.

One of my colleagues/mentors, the notable, internationally recognized renewable energy sage Paul Gipe shared the following affirmation with me several weeks ago about my attempt to heighten awareness about why community wind is needed at the LCEA Clean Power, Healthy Communities Conference in Oakland, CA. My presentation is here, but sadly, there was only a single party interested in my offering during the conference. Paul emailed me the following after the conference:

Subject: hang in there/you did good

Date: October 18, 2013 7:03:09 AM PDT

To: Kimberly King <>

hang in there kimberly. you did the right thing by coming out and making a presentation before the “solar only” crowd. it needed to be done, needs to be done, and needs to be done again and again–americans are slow learners.

but of course part of the problem is that we don’t have any policies that make it possible–and until we do we’ll just be working at the margins. . .


Yes, I have been on the margins since I embarked on this reinvention to become a hybrid renewable energy engineer back in 2001. And back then, I knew distributed generation would eventually become the order of the day. Thanks to SB 43 there is a smidgen of traction, but it’s still no slam dunk. Not to mention, I have touted distributed energy in the Interests section of my LinkedIn profile when I first launched my profile back in 2005

To obtain a challenging position developing hybrid renewable energy systems using sustainable development practices. Research and engineer hybrid renewable energy power micro-grid/nano-grid systems. Research mitigating noise generated by small wind turbines in the built environment. Make contributions developing hybrid renewable distributed energy power systems toward the development of renewable energy as part of the World Wide Energy Web. Engineer renewable energy efficiency designs.

It was because of my time holding leadership roles, developing solutions to problems in unknown territory, my capabilities as a Jill-of-all-trades generalist during the dot-com in IT/Systems Engineering/Administration, that Silver Spring Networks | UH-HNEI | DoE SunShot Initiative SmartGrid PV Inverter Project picked me up last year for a short-term, six month contract as a technical writer. One of the big reasons I was selected was due to my load flow analysis embedding ten wind turbine generators on an existing electrical distribution network paper as a part of my post-graduate degree. Mind you, this SunShot Initiative project is the cornerstone, benchmark communications protocol project for the USA for embedding a high-penetration of residential PV inverters on existing electrical distribution networks. This pilot’s aims are to discern how well the bi-directional flow of electrons from renewable energy generators can be managed by a utility. Most of the people I worked with on this project are ex-Cisco engineers, and found me to be a natural for this job. The reference letter from my supervisor is viewable here.

I was also in the queue for consideration under the Fraunhofer Institute/Sandia National Labs Micro-grid/Nano-grid project collaboration that was tabled indefinitely late last year. Thank you gov’t shutdown. *Sigh* And just a couple of months ago, I was in the queue to work on Chevron Energy Solutions/Chevron Renewable Power Division as a Investment Structuring Analyst/Associate for PV and geothermal plants, but these projects were placed on hold indefinitely as a result of the government shutdown.

Unfortunately, as time progresses, I feel more and more like hedged my bets incorrectly–thinking by now the renewable energy industry would have adopted the mindset that was pervasive during the dot-com to seek agile, adaptable engineers who are agitators, and who can wear more than one hat to get a job completed. Instead, this myopic vision I have come to witness over the past eight years seems to be the order of the day. This is out of my control. And so, I continue to be relegated to the margins/fringes. I am all for contingency planning. Sure always having a Plan B or Plan C makes sense, but I NEVER fathomed I’d need a Plan F. Let’s see how this all came about…

Plan AStarting in 2001, I volunteered at the Resource Renewable Institute, to learn more about this operatives renewable energy and sustainable development. I also performed due diligence for The Rahus Institute on why more PV systems were not being installed on K-12 schools in California. From 2004-2010, pursued academic coursework at a veritable plethora of universities in the USA, The Netherlands and the UK. I also completed PV Design and Installation coursework with Solar Energy International and at Diablo Valley College. For a year, I helped design and install solar PV systems on residences.  Eventually completed a post-graduate degree in renewable energy systems technology engineering in 2010 at the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) a part of Loughborough Technical University in the Midlands of the UK.

Plan BDue to the tumultuous, global financial climate in 2008, started having to fall back on my technical writing, computer science skills set–just like a number of my seasoned, professional CREST classmates had to do. Made the short list a number of times for a number of jobs–I lost count awhile ago. Chemistry. However, it’s an employers’ market and one has to meet 100% of the job description ‘check-box’ criteria, and getting past the HR ‘gate keepers’ these past few years has been inordinately challenging.

Plan C Started falling back on my chef skills as an Eco-chef; swapping my services for short-term housing, if pay was an issue.

Plan DDog sitting, House sitting to make trickle-in survival income while waiting for contractual engineering work to be finalized. These contracts never materialized.

Plan EJoined the SF Local 16 to obtain part-time freelance work in audio and visual realm, in an effort to get off the ‘food stamp diet.’

Plan F – My present aim is to secure a certificate in Industrial Maintenance [welding, machining, hydraulics] at Laney College, because our first world nation with a third world infrastructure is going to break HARD, and it will require having more talent who not only knows how to design, but also knows how to fix and tune, on-the-fly in the field.

I have some appointments coming up in December to chat with a CPUC [California Public Utilities Commissioner] to discuss why there persists in being consternation with supplier diversity issues. Also, more recently, a finance director at Chevron Energy Solutions has expressed some interest in hearing my ideas on how Chevron might participate in SB 43.

I am no Nikola Tesla, but I certainly have a great deal of empathy for the man, his vision and all the ‘brick walls’ he had to traverse to even get his ideas and designs embraced. Sadly, he was impoverished and in debt when he passed away. Alas…

To quote Randy Pausch,

Don’t ball. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap.

I sure hope so, because I’m borderline vanquished.


“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

I like that quote so much, I felt it bore repeating on my blog. Yeah, beeby, Alan Kay is a bona fide BAD-ASS!

Career advice: 12 professionals explain how to make it in energy

This deserves a repost. Career advice: 12 professionals explain how to make it in energy 

My favorite quote was

A wise man once told me engineering tells us what we can do, economics tell us what we should do, and politics tells us what will be done. — Robert Frank, Senior Consultant, McHale Performance

And altho this quote does not come from the aforementioned read, it’s one of my all time favorites…

 Don’t bail. The best of the gold is at the bottom of the barrels of crap. Randy Pausch

Tricks of the Trade :: Perspicacity of patience, persistence & following one’s passion…

It’s been awhile since I bla bla’d about how to network for employment. Truth be told it has been slim because, R&D pickin’s for a generalist, hybrid renewable energy engineer have been rather slim up until recently. What’s the adage? When it rains, it pours…

These past few months, I’ve been in holding pattern awaiting the USA Dept. of Energy and other financiers to fill the financial coffers of a couple of SF Bay Area R&D renewable energy engineering/network engineering consultancies I’m in the queue. And most recently, I received hits via the LinkedIn matrix; one for a gig to collaborate on a nascent, disruptive technology that could be a real game-changer for the solar industry.

Being sans substantive, steady paying work for almost two years has really hampered the flow of my ‘creative juices.’ But, I’ve always been one to take risks, for the opportunity of being afforded a big reward. I’ve never had a lack of persistence, but had wondered these past two years if finally following my passion was going to be a worthwhile endeavor. I mention this, due to too many forces that have essentially been out of my control, hampering my beloved renewable energy industry from taking off on a MASSIVE scale:

1. Obama allowing subsidies for oil to persist in the USA. I say, take ALL the subsidies away, let the market forces do what they do well, and let the chips fall where they may. I bet the solar and wind industries will still stand on their own.
2. The ‘illustrious leadership’ of the USA approving the southern extension of the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline is slated to carry (eventual) oil from the Alberta Canada tar sands. NB: Most of this oil is being earmarked for off-shore to the likes of China and elsewhere–bet you did not know that…
3.USA congress ‘threatening’ expiration of the 1603 Production Tax Credit (PTC) legislation.This is expected to lapse at the year’s end. Huge companies in the wind industry are already downsizing and invoking MASSIVE layoffs in this election year here in the USA, and abroad; they want to be able to survive 2013. Some wind companies have recently filed for bankruptcy and wind farm projects are being cancelled all over the USA. And solar companies expect to be negatively impacted, too, in the coming months. Don’t believe the hype that renewables are taking off and green(er)/clean(er) jobs are aplenty. Don’t believe me? Have a go at this, AWEA SmartBrief.

I must, however, say, have patience and persistence to stay the course and follow my passion is now starting to paying off, because doors continue to open. And, ultimately I hope to be able to do what I was forged to do as a member of this citizenry of spaceship Earth as an agitator, disruptive technologist and MAD! scientist/engineer who’s true comfort zone is to ‘hide behind the curtain.’ Makin’ it happen, yo!

Infographic Resume–a sign of the times…

Well, the web is certainly evolving. I accidentally came across this rather nascent idea today for touting one’s wares; the infographic resume. I noticed an intriguing post by Andrew Corliss, so I clicked through. He posted up an Infographic Resume. I think this lad is on to something…

I came across Andrew’s resume while I was (pa)trolling Mashable Business’ web site, digesting the stats on their Job Searching with Social Media [InfoGraphic].


And we engineers have a propensity to use infographics for locating information, too:

CALGAVIN Social Media Survey
Courtesy of: CALGAVIN

The Mother of (Re)Invention :: SF Mag Reinvention Chronicles

I have for the better part of the last decade been redirecting my efforts to become a renewable energy engineer and conceptual designer of hybrid renewable energy systems since surviving the dot-com of the 1990s. I’m not shy about taking bold risks for the sake of maintaining a creative approach to my work or job search. Last month, there was the following read in the San Francisco Magazine that I found rather affirming to the process I have been immersed in for a number of years. I am, indeed, not alone.

Anyone who has been unemployed these past few years knows, it’s no longer about resumes and contacts. I realized some many, many years ago, after my third company merger in four years that the rules were different. It’s a new social movement going on worldwide in the workplace that I do not think has been fully acknowledged, yet.

Also of interest, a recently published book titled “Company of One – Insecurity, Independence, and the New World of White-Collar Unemployment” was put out by Cornell University Press.

2010 Clean Tech Open (CTO)

When all else fails in your job search, enter a contest. Back in late March of this year, I entered the Clean Tech Open.

The mission of the Cleantech Open is to find, fund, and foster the big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental, and economic challenges.

The CTO started in California in 2006 and has expanded to the entire USA, as well as expansion into the international realm. I realize my and my colleagues’ nascent ideas won’t be readily accepted until there are A LOT of shock events, be they due to climate change effects, earthquakes, ecological disasters, financial, etc.–this is, after all, only human nature to be reactive instead of proactive. But hey, this is what we are all about, being a renewable energy engineer and hybrid renewable energy systems integrators.

In any event, entering this contest has served a necessary need of mine to secure a job via networking. And who knows, if the judges like my team’s RE-Power Them vision outlined in our Executive Summary, we might even become semi-finalists.

Here’s our presentation slide for the Semifinalist Announcement Event.

Heres our presentation slide

Our 2010 Clean Tech Open (CTO)  presentation slide

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What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

Content © 2009-2017 by Kimberly King