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 However, you’ll note in the above video that we recommend steering clear from the outdated “objective statement.”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.
Meetings. We all have them. Some of us may dread them, some may love the opportunity to share and see our fellow coworkers. Regardless of how we may feel, meetings are likely a part of your job whether they are in person, over the phone, or virtually with a webcam. So, how do we make the most of these meetings? How do we consistently pay attention to remain engaged? It starts by being intentional.
To begin, we must set ourselves up for success. And if you’re anything like me, this means eating beforehand. As much as I like to think that I do not get “hangry,” without food…it happens. This can also prevent you from getting distracted during the meeting if it were to run late or into your lunchtime.
The phone interview has become a basic and expected precursor to the in-person or virtual interview. It is the interview in which employers get the chance to know you a little bit better before determining if they’d like to spend even more time and resources getting to know you, thereby determining whether or not they’d like you on their team. In other words, it’s pretty critical! I remember prior to my first phone interview for a real job, talking to my current mentor about it and saying that I didn’t feel like it would be that big of a deal. That I was headed back to my dorm at that moment to sit in my desk chair and make time for it before starting in on my homework for the night. The way he looked at me with concern and the way I felt after the interview cemented the reality that, yeah, it actually is a pretty big deal.
So why don’t we adequately prepare for it like we should? Why don’t we treat it like the important step in the interview process that it is; the step that if you make or break it, determines whether you get a seat at their table or whether your application is swiftly withdrawn from the running? Here are some crucial forgotten rules of the phone interview to take seriously in order to help yourself take the phone interview seriously. And win an in-person interview.
1. Find a place of privacy and quiet. It’s not always convenient when you are a student or current employee trying to find the least distracting place during the 8 to 5 day that you can to focus on and successfully complete a phone interview. Your dorm room or apartment can even be a struggle if you have roommate(s) or a cluttered space. If you can, ask your roommates to leave for a little while so you can prepare for and do the phone interview in complete quiet. Turn off any noise, put away the pets, and get to a room or part of the room that is as secluded, silent, and focused as possible. If you are on campus, check with your career services to see if they have a secluded room that you could reserve to complete your phone interview.
Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it! What we do and don’t talk about at work these days has changed. We’ve become much more open and willing to discuss things that in our parent’s day and age, they’d never dream of sharing. This is a double-edged sword–both good and bad–blurring the lines of what is considered taboo.
Before we dive into a few of the things that are a bit more acceptable to discuss these days, I’d like to preface with–no matter what is being discussed–the who, how and when of these discussions is still as important as it ever was. Water cooler conversations with peers in a gossiping manner isn’t productive or helpful. Coming in as a new employee and discussing your financial problems and family challenges, doesn’t set a good impression. As we look at my 4 things I think are valuable to discuss nowadays, keep in mind that I’m talking about with productive intentions and with the appropriate person(s).
1. Conflict – Conflict arises, and while it might seem taboo to talk about, address and deal with issues with your manager, colleagues and peers as they happen (Take time to cool down if needed before you address!). There is no value in holding onto negative feelings for prolonged periods of time. Have an open discussion, focus on listening to the other person. Ask clarifying questions. Ask that they hear your point of view. Remain calm and keep the overall objective of business performance top of mind. Work on a resolution with the person with a conflicting view point. Only bring in others when another opinion is necessary, or an agreement can’t be found and is necessary. Most times a consensus isn’t needed and agreeing to disagree is okay.
In the first week of the new year I spent some time de-cluttering my social media feeds. While I did unfollow several Instagrams that no longer resonate with me, I was reminded of what individuals and organizations are sharing really great content!
1. Rural Revival ruralrevivalco
“Bringing America back to the country, one idea at a time.”
Rural Revival is fairly new to the scene and their Instagram page highlights rural communities and the people committed to ensuring their vibrancy. You’ll travel across the nation and meet rural changemakers who are making an impact.
2. Common Ground Commongroundnow
“Conversations about farming and food.”
Common Ground encourages going straight to the source–farmers and ranchers–with your food and agriculture questions. This Instagram not only shares views from the farm, but also food facts that are easy to share with others.
3. MN Millennial Farmer mnmillennialfarmer
“Family owned, 5th generation farmer in west-central Minnesota.”
The good, bad and ugly of farming. This farm owner shares it all with a dose of humor and humility.