Recruitment: What do employers want? Tips for those entering the ag job market

Beef Central, 14/02/2014


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  • Feed Team Supervisor, Wonga Plains Feedlot (Camm Agricultural Group)
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  • Working Manager, Baralaba cattle aggregation, Central Qld
  • Stud Overseer – Newcastle Waters Brahman Stud (Consolidated Pastoral Co)
  • Technical Services Officer – ALFA
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ONE of the most confusing aspects for any job-seeker when preparing an application is knowing exactly what skills and attributes an employer is looking for.

If they have little or no prior employment experience this can be even more daunting.

So, what do employers look for in graduates or school-leavers? It's a tricky one to answer, and pretty much everyone you speak to will have a different opinion on the subject.

A recent survey claims that the ability to work as part of a team, make decisions, solve problems, organise and prioritise tasks and communicate effectively are the top five characteristics that employers are looking for in candidates this year. This applies as much in the meat and livestock supply chain as any other area of business.  

This is good news for those who have recently graduated or finished school, as these are all skills you've likely picked up during your time at school or work experiences.

First, it’s important to remember that, while some employers may place greater emphasis on one or more of these skills and attributes when recruiting younger staff who are entering the workforce, it doesn’t mean these are the only skills they’re looking for.

Doing some research about the types of companies you want to for, speaking with friends who have gone through the process before and even contacting someone in the workforce to discuss expectations are all great ways to learn which skills and attributes prospective employers may be seeking.

When recruiting for new graduates or school leavers, employers do not focus too heavily on experience and look more at attributes like ambition, commitment, personality, initiative and the ability to work independently.

“While having the technical requirements and experience for jobs is vital, displaying the right characteristics is also essential,” AWX director Cameron Dart said.

So, if young job seekers can make an effort to exhibit their personality and character traits through their cover letter and resume, during the interview and on their social media profiles, this can be of benefit.


Top 5 Tips for recent graduates or school leavers:


Create a resume and cover letter that work

Getting an interview is usually the result of having a company or business take notice of the resume and cover letter you submitted for the job. Make sure you specify why you would be an excellent candidate. There are no right or wrong resumes – an effective one will get you the job.

When writing a cover letter it is important to read the job description carefully so that you can target your letter to what the company is looking for and so that you can incorporate ‘key words’ into your document.

Keep your job search focussed

Although you don’t want to be too rigid in your job search, you want to show employers that you are focused and that you know what you want. Focusing your job search requires that you understand your strengths and what skills you have to offer and that you are able to articulate this information in your resume and cover letter.

Use your personal and professional network

Most graduates or school leavers are aware of how the educational system works, but may have very little knowledge of how things work in the real world. Speak to family and friends who are in the workforce and ask them to speak to their employers about available opportunities. A referral can sometimes be more powerful than a resume on paper.

Create a Linkedin profile and join groups – this is a great way to connect with likeminded people. 

Stand out among the crowd

Most recruiters receive hundreds of cover letters and resumes a week and the time they can spend with each one can be limited. Find ways that you can stand out when employers receive your documents. Some things to consider:

  • Target your documents to the specific job and be sure that it does not contain any errors.
  • Call the employer and let them know that you have applied. You can also ask when they plan on conducting interviews? This will show initiative and you are very interested to work for the company.

Be persistent, and don’t give up

It can be easy to get discouraged when looking for a new job but the key is to stay positive and motivated. Recruiters can see right through candidates that lack motivation and initiative and that attitude definitely transmits, when you apply and interview for jobs.





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