If you're in the market for a job in any agricultural sector, you will be keenly aware of the importance of qualifications and real-world experience. However, it can be easy to forget that potential employers will be just as interested in your personality and character attributes. These are the things that are assessed in the most detail at interview, so it's important for you to have an understanding of the characteristics they will be looking out for.
Here is a rundown of some important attributes that most farming employers will respond well to. The more of these you can demonstrate, the more likely you are to get the job.
Bosses like to see people who are positive and enthusiastic about their work. Negative attitudes can be a corrosive presence in any workplace, whereas happiness can be contagious and inspire others to reflect the same attitudes towards their work. You may be nervous at your interview, but by smiling and coming across as an upbeat person, you will show yourself to be someone with a knack for keeping morale high. Think about it: if everyone has to be up at the crack of dawn to work the fields, the last thing anyone needs is someone who is grumpy and unmotivated - that kind of thing can ruin productivity!
In farming, there is often work that needs to be done late into the evening, and you need to show that you will have absolutely no problem with doing it. If help is needed at the weekend - after all, farming is a 365-day a year job - you must show you'll be willing to go that extra mile. Employers love candidates who show a hunger to fully immerse themselves in a role, eager to learn loads and progress up the ladder. Even if they lack experience, these attributes can be very attractive to prospective employers. It might help to train in a particular field of study - an agriculture degree is fantastic, but there are specific areas you can take courses in beekeeping, pastures, agronomy and much, much more.
You may have seen a pretty in-depth job description before applying for the job, but that doesn't mean the role won't sometimes extend beyond what was specified. The real world of agriculture requires you to adjust and adapt to the circumstances - nothing is certain, and when the weather changes or unforeseen circumstances arise, your employer will need you to be available to deviate from the predetermined duties and working hours. Show that you are able and willing to do this.
It can be helpful to show that you are absolutely full of ideas and happy to both initiate and accept change. Keep in mind, however, that the employers will be looking for candidates willing to constructively challenge the way a business is run, rather than be disrespectful and condescending. Understand that farming is hi-tech: farmers use laptops, iPads, drones, robots and more to get the job done. Farmers use technology to monitor a cow in labour and adjust the barn temperature through their smartphone. Technology makes farmers efficient and productive, and if you can show initiative on this front then you could set yourself apart from the competition.
Every detail of the way you present yourself creates an impression. It doesn't matter whether its something like the way you answer the phone or the sitting posture you take up when in a chair. The word 'professional' is not simple to define, but you would do well to ensure every aspect of your presentation and mannerisms suggests you are taking the job seriously. It's also advised to be respectful towards potential colleagues, customers and employers. Farming is a profession, with highly specialised skills and expertise involved. You need to come across as willing and able to approach the role in a professional manner.
There is a fine line - but a big difference - between being confident and arrogant. Aim for the former but avoid the latter at all costs. Just keep in mind that this is a job you can excel in, so act like it! At an interview, the person across the table might throw scenarios at you and ask what you would do. Agriculture is a high-pressure industry where every second counts and you are frequently forced to make decisions on the spot. Potential employers will need to see that you can do this in a confident and assured way.
It may seem like a contradiction in terms to tell you to be confident and modest at the same time. But it isn't - confidence means being self-assured and knowing you have what it takes to do the job, but modesty means sometimes accepting that you have things to learn. The career paths in agriculture are diverse, and your employer will need to see that you are ready to learn. Most people who work in agriculture aren't actually on the farm - the industry needs marketing and advertising professionals with the skills to sell agricultural products to consumers and even determine what it is they want. You have much to learn, so don't act like you're already a master (unless you truly are!).
You don't have to suddenly broaden your vocabulary or start speaking like the Queen overnight, but it helps to be able to make your points in a way that others can easily understand. Use simple language and be as concise as possible but speak with poise and authority on the things you know a lot about. In the past, farms were usually smaller, family-run operations, with simple interactions with vendors and suppliers. Today, with vast employee numbers and complex distribution networks, along with various stakeholders and different departments, communication is absolutely essential in the agricultural industry. Show that you are willing and able to communicate efficiently and effectively.
The truth is that some hugely talented people are really unpleasant characters, and some bosses will drive you mad. These are luxuries of people who are already established in their careers, and as you are just starting out you can't afford to behave that way. If an employer gets the impression they aren't going to like you, or that others in the team might not, they probably won't employ you.
Don't try to invent some artificial personality for your job application - it won't go well, and you probably won't fool anyone. Just be the very best version of yourself - if you're applying for the right role, everything that makes you unique is probably your best weapon against the competition.
It shouldn't be too presumptuous to say the reason you are applying to a certain company is because the idea of working there is exciting to you. There must be a reason you feel that way, so tell your potential employer what it is that attracted you to their farm, company or team. Don't be overly complimentary, though, or you will risk sounding disingenuous or even sycophantic.
You are dealing with very busy people, so be sure to thank you for giving you their time. Maybe drop them a note afterwards to thank them, particularly if you don't end up landing the job. You'd be amazed how many employers will call the candidate who took the time to do that next time a vacancy comes up.
In any job interview, it is essential to come across as the right TYPE of person for a role. They've seen everything you have on paper; your employment history, qualifications, relevant experience, references, etc. Now they want to get a sense of you as a human being. The attributes listed in this article are a good guide on how to impress at an agriculture job interview, so choose some that you can portray and play to your strengths at interview.
If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.
Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk
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