With an increasing number of people pursuing agriculture as a career, the number of qualified applicants for any given agricultural job has increased significantly. Hence, employers are becoming less focused on what degree or courses you may have completed and more interested in what extra elements you can bring to a job. While an employer obviously looks for basic ability and consistency of academic results as an initial qualifier for a job, any extra skills or qualities that an applicant has are becoming more and more relevant. These additional skills and qualities will define you and set you apart in a large candidate pool.
Essentially, employers ask themselves a number of questions when considering an applicant for a role in their company:
Employers value some skills and qualities very highly (without necessarily asking direct questions about them); these include some of the following;
- Can the applicant perform the job; do they have the right skill set?
- Will the applicant do the job correctly and to the best of their abilities?
- Will the candidate fit in with the ethos and beliefs of the company?
- What added elements does the candidate bring with them to the job and to the company?
- Drive and energy- this displays a desire to get things done and to complete tasks
- Motivation- this can be displayed through enthusiasm, a willingness to ask questions and the drive to do that little bit extra on each job
- Communication skills- the ability to explain things clearly and articulate your message clearly
- Determination- someone who will not back off when a problem or a situation gets tough.
- Reliability and trustworthiness
- Attention to detail and the ability to complete a job both successfully and correctly
- People skills- the ability to listen to each other and to work as part of a team
All of these skills may be developed during your time in university. Be aware of what abilities you posses and how they relate to your potential employers requirements.
Giving examples of these skills and qualities:
It is not enough just to be aware that you may have these qualities and to assume that your potential employer will recognise them. You must give examples of how you have honed these skills and qualities and in what situations you have used them.
- Clubs/Sports teams- this is the ideal way to emphasise your ability to work as part of a team, to highlight the quality of determination to do well, your drive and energy and your motivation
- Societies- these also act as areas in which your involvement can be translated into desirable skills and qualities. For example; attention to detail when planning an event, reliability and trustworthiness in positions of responsibility and your people skills, working with others and communicating effectively
- Work experience is an ideal way to highlight your motivation for a job and to emphasis your drive and energy to acquire career related experience or experience in the workforce. This will also highlight your dedication to a career area and will reflect favourably on you.
Remember to use key words when describing your skills and qualities. Words that employers want to hear include; motivated, teamwork, determined, reliable and trustworthy.
Highlight your additional skills and qualities and do not purely rely on the merits of your degree to ensure you get a job. Remember this during your time at University and involve yourself clubs and societies that hold and interest for you. This way you will find that you hold extra skills rather then just academic ones, that will catch the employers eye and help set you apart from others in the candidate pool.