So you’re nearing the end of your studies and you probably have some anxiety about the job seeking and interview process. Add to this, the thought of trying to get a idea of what your career is going to look like for the next few years, and staying at university or college almost seems like a good option…almost. Take heart! The agricultural industry is hugely diverse, and this is a time to embrace the variety of the opportunities that may come your way, and to be open to the idea of taking on something that is outside your comfort zone. Whilst all the options need to be considered carefully, you also never know where an “out of the box” decision can take you in the agricultural sector!
The purpose of this article is to give you a few practical and tangible tips on navigating this process. The points discussed below will give you some tips to help you land that first job, and also remind you of some generational differences between job seekers and recruiters.
Getting the basics right: your resume.
There are lots of different online resources and tips on how to craft the perfect resume, including a very good reference previously published by AgCareers.com here. There are also many templates available to help you in the drafting process and make your document look professional…use them!
There are many different schools of thought about the best layout for a resume, but in reality, it’s the content that matters. Some essential sections are your contact details, education and relevant past experience.
When you are a new graduate, it can be tempting to try and “fill up” you resume with every single job that you have held since legal working age. Here is where you have to exercise some discretion. For example, the fact that you have worked at a fast food outlet when you were 15 is probably of no interest to someone that is looking to hire you in your first professional role at age 21. However, the fact that you may have worked in a “high pressure environment in a customer facing role” at the same age may interest them. It’s all about highlighting the most relevant experience within those previous roles for the purposes of your resume today.
Some additional tips with resumes are:
- Have an appropriate email address. Listing your contact information as firstname.lastname@example.org is probably not going to impress prospective employers or recruiters.
- Spelling and correct grammar is so important. We’ve all done it…pressed send on a job application only to go back to it later and realise that we have made a spelling mistake. It’s an awful feeling, so triple check your document, then get another person to read it over before sending.
- Keep your resume brief and to the point. Recruiters and employers don’t have time to sift through a long resume when shortlisting candidates.
- Be descriptive and list skills that you have developed in your previous roles.
- Consider including extras like a photo, professional objective and links to your social media profiles (although read the notes below on social media before doing so).
Social Media: use it to your advantage.
One of the first things that many employers and recruiters will do, after perusing your resume, is to Google you. That being said, make sure you have Googled yourself beforehand and cleaned up any questionable content or photos that may appear!
Also, creating a LinkedIn profile can be a useful exercise. Use LinkedIn to your advantage and connect with your network and individuals that you meet in a professional setting. Think of LinkedIn as a social networking site for professionals, and use it as such. You can also use LinkedIn to ask for recommendations, showcase your work, join and participate in groups and see who was been viewing your profile.
Searching for and applying for jobs.
So you have your resume ready to go, and you have your social media profiles cleaned up and set up. Now you need to know where to go to find the jobs that you would like to apply for. AgCareers.com is a great starting point. The website posts jobs both from employers and recruiters. You can search for jobs using key words and locations and even look at roles in other parts of the world. Government job boards can also be useful when applying for roles in the public sector.
In addition, don’t underestimate the power of your network, small or large, when looking for a job. Many candidates will attest that it was the fact that they met and engaged with certain individuals at networking events that helped land them that perfect job.
Many job seekers consider targeting and “cold canvassing” certain organisations and companies that they would like to work for, and this can be a worthy exercise. However, make sure that your canvassing efforts are tailored, addressed to a real person and don’t use a bulk email to hundreds of organisations at once, this will not work!
When applying for a specifically advertised position, there are usually some selection criteria that are listed in the job ad. Make it easy for the prospective employer or recruiter to short list you for an interview, by ensuring that your cover letter addresses how you can meet each one of these criteria specifically.
If you’ve landed an interview, congratulations! Some tips for the interview include:
- Be punctual and turn up on time. If it is inevitable that you are going to be late, get in touch with the interviewer as soon as you are aware that you will be late, apologise for the delay and arrange an alternative time.
- Dress appropriately and professionally.
- Bring copies of your resume and portfolio. Your portfolio can include awards, academic transcripts and examples of your work. Quite often your portfolio may not be looked at, but you should bring it to every interview nonetheless.
- Be confident, but not overly confident and be enthusiastic, but not desperate.
- Be friendly to EVERYONE in the organisation, including juniors such as reception staff. They quite often speak with senior managers and hiring staff, so their impressions of you can be very important.
- Be prepared for ‘scenario’ type questions. This is where you may be given a certain set of facts, and asked about how you would respond or deal with a particular situation.
- Have a prepared response for the dreaded “what is your biggest weakness?” question!
- Send a follow up thank you note within a day or two after the interview.
Some important tips for Gen Y’s.
We have previously published an article on “Gen Y’s Guide to Working with Older Generations.” Some of the themes from this article are worth a revisit if you fall into the “Gen Y” or “millennial” category. Many of the recruitment and management personnel that you will come into contact with on your job hunt will be highly experienced staff, with many years in their respective roles. Whilst there is no question that young people can bring a lot of positives to the workplace, there can be some differences between Gen Y’s and older generations and Gen Y’s need to be aware of, and respect these differences. Some tips for Gen Y’s when dealing with older generations when on job seeking include:
- don’t use text messages to communicate with recruiters or prospective employers unless they have instigated this form of communication with you first. If you do use texts, keep them formal with no acronyms and no texting slang.
- When writing emails, again, the formality rule applies. Write as though you were writing a letter, and don’t use abbreviations or acronyms.
We wish you luck with your job seeking efforts. It can be an overwhelming time, but it is also a very exciting one. You are entering an industry that is progressive, dynamic and that has a huge diversity of opportunities. Some of the pointers in this article will help you to put your best foot forward when navigating this process and help you land that dream role!
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