Starting a new position is both terrifying and exciting. There is an old movie quote that paraphrased goes something like, “Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad and it is what is in the middle that counts.” When it comes to starting a new job, there is a similar beginning, middle, and end. During the first 90 or so days on the job, you will go through an onboarding period that will help you get up and running in your new role. When it’s done well, the onboarding process will make you feel like you are being welcomed into a new community.
Think a moment about the different perspectives. Your new employer needs to convey both culture and structure to ensure you get on board quickly and know how to be successful. You as a new employee need to know who to turn to, how to get your questions answered and of course, how to be successful. Good onboarding can meet both of your needs.
It may be the most controversial addition to a resume if you are a recent graduate: should you include your GPA, or your grade point average? Do employers really want to know? Will it increase your chances of getting a job or will it hurt them? After years working with AgCareers.com, I’ve heard a lot from both sides of the argument. Let’s weigh the pros and cons.
Including grade point average on your resume is often more widely accepted if you have little or no experience aside from your education. This is often the case for current college students who have not yet completed an internship or have had little work experience outside the classroom.
And if you have great grades, why not? Cristine Buggeln of JBS USA told us in our 2014 Ag & Food Career Guide to only add your GPA to your resume if it is above 3.0. We at AgCareers.com would go so far to even say that it is more impressive to only include if it is 3.5 or above. If your major or field of study is intensive and widely considered “difficult,” such as a scientific field or in the pursuit of an advanced degree (Master’s or Doctorate), and you have maintained a strong GPA, it will show that you are a dedicated student committed to success.
We’ve all had situations where we’ve been frustrated with our boss, and sometimes you just want to vent. Maybe you didn’t like the decision your boss made, or you feel hurt because you didn’t get the promotion or raise you thought you deserved. Maybe you are struggling with a co-worker relationship, and it’s disrupting your productivity. Should you talk to your boss about how you feel about your work or their management? What should you just keep to yourself?
Let’s face it, it could be pretty risky to put yourself out there and “complain” to your boss, especially in certain corporate cultures. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach here, and I think we could all argue that our own specific circumstance is unique. Therefore, the answer to whether or not you should give your boss critical feedback depends entirely on YOU and your personal journey. I love the way Andy Stanley talks about how to be drama free through wise decisions, and I think this method applies to any pivotal situation. Stanley suggests we look at the decision through the three lenses of past, present, and future in order to make the wise move. Consider asking yourself the following three questions:
Ah, the thought of working from home. No more commute. No chance of getting that sickness that goes around the office every winter. No need to even make a lunch to bring every day. You have your entire fridge!
Yes, it does sound glorious. And for many people, it is! But not necessarily for everyone. Is this something you have thought about? This checklist will help you evaluate if this is an option you should consider.
1. The Social Dynamic
Okay, this is perhaps the most obvious difference. Although this depends on your current workplace setting, this will most likely be a drastic change from working in an office constantly surrounded by others. I spoke with one of my dear extroverted friends about her experience working from home, and she mentioned that it was not a good fit for her because she needs more human interaction. Don’t underestimate the value of that daily talk with your colleagues at the watercooler. Everyone is different! You know yourself better than anyone else. Set yourself up for success.
On the same note, perhaps working in that office filled with people prohibits you from being productive and getting your work done. A simple walk to the restroom could suddenly bring you into a conversation about your coworker’s dog’s illness that you never asked about.
With all elements of a resume, there seems to be a lot of debate about how to introduce your resume, and if it’s even necessary. At AgCareers.com, we hear lots of opinions from employers we work with about how they’d like to see applicants open their resume. It can be difficult to successfully implement, especially considering you want to essentially summarize everything below in a very quick, non-fully kind of way. Here are four different ways we recommend to start a resume and how to do so successfully.
This is the most commonly referenced method to start a resume. Typically, objective statements present a picture of what you have to offer, and it is best utilized by applicants with less experience. An objective statement outlines your career goals and your reason for submitting a resume. However, you’ll note in the above video that we recommend steering clear from the outdated “objective statement.” Employers have repeatedly told us this is also a more unnecessary element on resumes. Just the same, if you think this is what would best introduce your resume, here is an example opening:
“Obtain a position as a sales agronomist with an industry leader to exercise my relevant skill and knowledge in plant science and customer relations.”
Your first reaction to PDA in the headline might be “How does this relate to my job search and pregnancy?” No, I’m not addressing “Public Displays of Affection,” also known as PDA. The U.S. Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 states that a pregnant woman cannot be treated differently from any other employees with disabilities, even though they are temporary. Pregnant workers may have pregnancy-related impairments that qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The PDA prohibits sex discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It applies to current, past, potential or intended pregnancies, and any medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.
To Share or Not to Share
Firstly, it’s good to know that this conversation is entirely up to you, the candidate! Any questions asked by employers regarding your marital status, pregnancy, or children are out-of-bounds. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) outlines guidelines in their Pregnancy Discrimination Fact Sheet.
If you need a little motivation on why not to lie, can I just say online platforms and the worldwide web. You might have searched your name online or maybe you haven’t, but I can assure you employers are. They are Googling your name and finding out what they can about you. Articles you’ve been featured in, records they can find, and connections to others. They are checking your social platforms, particularly Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn can give a complete employment history which allows employers to identify any gaps/red flags or discrepancies that show you’re lying on your resume. Social networks make small industries, like agriculture, that much smaller. Someone knows someone on Facebook that knows you and can easily ask casually about you.
Job references can be tricky. Not everyone is an overachiever who became fast, easy confidants with everyone they’ve met professionally. However, you still likely need them for any job you apply for today; be certain that your employer will ask for them. If you find yourself at a loss for who to ask, I invite you to consider the following suggestions if your professional relationships with these individuals are still viable and you can trust that they would vouch for you. Remember, however, before you list them to actually ask them formally to be a job reference for you! You would not believe how many references are shocked to receive phone calls from employers asking them about an applicant they once worked with. Trust me, this will not reflect well for you.
Now that this is clear, here are five people you should definitely choose for job references and five to steer clear from.
In 2017, FFA alumna Beverley Flatt accepted a position as the content creation manager for Bayer Animal Health. She took a sabbatical from her 170-acre family farm in Nashville, TN, and moved to Monheim, Germany, for the role. Here, Flatt explains how FFA led her to a job with one of the largest agribusiness companies in the world and how you can pursue similar opportunities, too.
How did you become interested in agriculture?
I didn’t grow up in a farming family; my parents were high school teachers. In middle school, I babysat for a man who created spice mixtures for fast-food companies, and I thought it was the coolest job. He said that if I wanted a job like his, I needed to study food science. I signed up for agricultural education and was hooked.
How did your involvement in FFA shape your career path?
In college, I attended the State Presidents’ Conference in Washington, D.C. We had an audience in the White House, and I was selected to ask President George W. Bush a question. I asked, if he were in our position, what question would he ask? He said in seven years as president, he had never been asked that specific question and that great leaders ask great questions. After that, I thought about what careers would let me ask a lot of questions and ended up majoring in agricultural journalism.
When applying online, it’s difficult to determine who you’re communicating with, and therefore, addressing your cover letter is difficult as well. Most job postings on AgCareers.com do not list the employer’s contact person.
You’re tempted to just say forget it and skip the cover letter altogether. However, this can be a mistake. Even though the electronic systems and recruiters may not evaluate the cover letter, the hiring managers will take notice. Addressing it to the wrong person is an even bigger snafu.
Is Contact Information Available?
Even though most jobs do not list a contact, read over the posting again to make sure. You don’t want to miss that little detail if it lists an actual contact name.
If you don’t see a contact on the posting, you can call the company, or search online, the company website, or LinkedIn.
When you find a contact, use the full, formal name, such as Ms. Johnson or Bonnie Johnson. Address it to Mr. for men and Ms. for women (skip the Mrs. or Miss unless specified). If you are unsure of the gender, use the full name (first, last/family name) with no title. If the contact has a professional title, use it out of respect, such as Dr. or Professor. Most importantly, double-check spelling.