They are the most important part of any job hunt. The first look employers get into who you are and what skills you bring to the table, and one of the only ways you will land an interview with your dream job. We’re talking about resumes and what can make or break you when your name is sitting in bold letters on an employers’ desk. Crafting a professional, concise resume that will get you an interview is no easy task. It may be difficult to narrow down your achievements onto a one-page, tell-all sheet, but what you leave off your resume is just as important as what is put on. Take this resume advice: here are some things to leave off and what to put on instead.
This piece of resume advice is for all the college students or recent grads out there. The general rule is to not have anything below a grade point average of a 3.0 visible on your resume, but there’s no need to get discouraged if you don’t meet this criterion. Kristine Penning, AgCareers.com Creative Marketing Specialist, advises, “skills are definitely more important [than GPA].” Employers want to ensure they are hiring someone with the right skill set, so try spending more time promoting yourself in other ways.
But, but, but… you may say, I really need to sell myself, I have a lot of experience, education, etc. Most people are, or feel, overworked and rushed. Humans and computers (applicant tracking systems) scanning your resume want to pick out key points and assess your qualifications efficiently and quickly.
To honor this effort, I’m making this blog short, concise, and direct!
Cut out the clutter – what to remove from your resume to keep it to one page:
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.
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.”
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.
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.
If you have a resume, you know that everyone has an opinion about it. There are lots of different rules to follow, but the basics should all be there. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate resume checklist for you! You’re probably thinking that this is also subjective. And you’re right, it is. But we’ve talked to hundreds of agricultural employers over the years and can say with certainty that this list is fairly agreed upon. You’re welcome.
I have a 5-year-old that recently started kindergarten, to say that the alphabet is on my brain daily would be an understatement. Thought I’d bring a little of that alphabetical fun to our blog readers! Here is AgCareers.com’s suggestions for the career search from A to Z.
A: You’re kidding? AgCareers.com, of course!
B: Behavior based interview questions – know how to answer all parts: situation, action and result.
C: Cover Letter – make sure to craft a cover letter for each application and customize it for that role.
D: Decline – you might need to decline an offer. Do so in a polite manner. Remember, the agriculture industry is small!
AgCareers.com staff has seen and heard some truly cringe-worthy moments at the many on-campus career fairs that we attend every year. Our employer clients also share some bizarre career fair stories with us. The results of these employer-student interactions were less than impressive, so here are a few mistakes career fair attendees should avoid:
Parents! A college student took along their dad for moral support and to listen-in to their kid’s conversations with employers at a career fair. Even if your mom or dad is a “helicopter parent,” insist they stay away for the day. They won’t be able to join you on the job anyway!
Poor dress choices. Think about the power of first impressions. We’ve seen students who look like they just rolled out of bed with wrinkled jeans, mismatched socks, and a bad hair day, chewing gum and intent on their mobile phone. Dress appropriately for the professional atmosphere, not like you’re ready for a night out. Ensure you can bend over without embarrassment! Shoes are a common problem, so make sure yours are clean and comfortable. Practice wearing your new dress shoes before the fair; stay clear of too-high heels or platforms that make you stumble.