Landing The Job
As Canada’s third-largest agriculture sector employer, Alberta employed 54,500 people in 2017. While the industry employed many at the time, about 2,800 agriculture jobs were left open. With an aging workforce entering retirement, there will be many job opportunities opening up. By 2029, an estimated 62,000 more agriculture workers are needed to support the industry.(1)
UFA and Nutrien are among some of the largest agricultural players in Alberta—and Nutrien is even recognized across North America. In order to manage their large-scale operations, both companies need to rely on a sizable workforce.
UFA, an agricultural co-operative that has been around for over one hundred years, hires people in different roles across several departments—and this is something that Jason Matshes, senior HR consultant at UFA can attest to. When Matshes joined UFA, he started off recruiting candidates for UFA’s diverse workforce. This included roles in the company’s Agribusiness, Petroleum, Marketing, Finance, and IT departments, to name a few. “I was really lucky to be a recruiter. I loved my time in that role because you get to recruit every single department and really get to see the organization inside out,” says Matshes.
With Nutrien, they employ about 22,000 people worldwide, spanning across their
four different business operations—potash, nitrogen, phosphate, and retail. With over 2,000 retail locations, Nutrien offers retail seasonal positions throughout the spring and summer for students who are entering the workforce for the first time.
“You get first-hand experience on how a retail business is run, [and] you also get to work with the largest ag retailer in the world,” says Terry Jackson, talent advisor at Nutrien, who specializes in recruiting for their retail division.
At Nutrien, students new to the workforce can pick up lots of seasonal positions. Depending on the job role, students can take away product knowledge on crop inputs and equipment.
“Then you also have the opportunity to move up within the company and get your foot in the door,” says Jackson.
Matshes echoes this point—while students can find seasonal and part-time casual retail positions at UFA as well, this can give them the head start they need to pursue a career in the agriculture industry.
“WHEREVER YOU WANT
TO GO, WE CAN HELP YOU
BUILD AND GROW.”
“We have ways within our organization that we want people to grow. We try to promote internally wherever possible...wherever you want to go, we can help you build and grow,” says Matshes.
However, there is that initial adversity that every young person faces when entering the workforce and that’s having no prior work experience. While this is a concern that many new job seekers have, both Jackson and Matshes say that there are ways around it.
When screening resumes, recruiters also take into consideration real world experiences. Schooling experiences (like group projects, school clubs, and sports teams) or volunteer experiences are good things to list on a resume.
“If someone is working a part-time job, but it has no relation to the position, as a recruiter I would much rather you tell me about project work experience versus fast food [restaurant experience] that doesn’t relate to the role,” says Jackson.
Additionally, listing the various clubs and sports teams reveals a bit about a person’s personality.
“I find resumes can be very cold sometimes. But when [clubs and teams are] put on there, it just shows something about your personality. It’s essentially a way to connect with hiring managers,” says Matshes.
Ultimately, what recruiters are looking for in a new hire is someone who is motivated and detail-oriented—experienced recruiters like Matshes and Jackson can detect these traits simply by glancing at a resume.
Three key things to look out for when building a resume is spelling and grammatical errors, formatting, and listing experiences related to the job.
“...EMPLOYERS SPEND ABOUT
SIX SECONDS REVIEWING
Resumes should be free of any spelling and grammatical errors as this demonstrates attention to detail. Keep in mind that on average, employers spend about six seconds reviewing each
resume.(2) If there are any typos or mistakes, it could land your resume in the recycling bin. It is always a good idea to get a friend or family member to proofread your resume.
For formatting, a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Use bullet points to list experiences and a universal font, like Times New Roman or Arial, with a size between 10 to 12 points. It’s best to avoid using graphics or photos on a resume as it can alter the formatting when submitting through a business’ online application system.
Finally, whether or not you’re applying at UFA, Nutrien, or any other job, Jackson says to always switch up your resume accordingly.
“IT’S REALLY IMPRESSIVE ...
WHEN A CANDIDATE HAS
TAKEN THE TIME TO
RESEARCH THE POSITION
AND THE COMPANY.”
“[Make] sure that you tailor your resume for every position that you’re applying to versus just creating a resume and applying for every position with that same resume. Take your time to note how your experience relates to the position,” says Jackson.
Other details to include are your contact information, such as your phone number,
email address, the city, and province that the job position is located. Length should also be considered, keeping the resume to a maximum of two pages.
If a recruiter is interested, they will move onto an applicant’s cover letter. A cover letter is a high-level summary of yourself, and it can give recruiters a deeper understanding of who you are as a person.
“It’s really impressive to a hiring leader or HR professional when a candidate has taken the time to research the position and the company,” says Matshes.
“It shows the candidate is really interested in the job and those types of proactive skills can show what type of worker they can and will be in the workplace.”
Thorough research can also benefit applicants in the interview process as well. Hiring managers like to see candidates who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the position and company they are applying to. It can also help applicants understand how their own skills relate to the job.
In this day and age, employers can conduct remote interviews through Zoom or Google Hangouts. Preparing for a video interview is in some ways similar to in-person interviews—applicants should still dress for the role, but there are a couple of technical factors to consider.
“Test your equipment at least a day in advance of the interview. You want to choose a tidy and quiet location—free of any background distractions or clutter,” says Jackson.
Another thing to remember is to look at the camera lens and not at a different screen. By doing this it looks like you’re making eye contact, creating a more personal experience.
Practicing mock interviews with family members or friends is another tip. With parents especially, they already have interview experience and can be a good resource for additional tips.
Both Jackson and Matshes suggest using every type of resource you can to land the job—this can be anything from attending virtual or in-person networking events, to connecting with hiring managers through LinkedIn, or even applying in-store with a manager. Taking advantage of all these different avenues can even open up opportunities down the line.
“AS A STUDENT, YOU HAVE TO
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE.”
“As a student, you have to put yourself out there. I know it can be a little scary because you’re entering the workforce and I [felt] that exact way. But put yourself out there. Sometimes it’s
uncomfortable, but that’s how you grow,” says Matshes.
One thing to remember is that it can take multiple tries before you get the job. Although it can be discouraging at first, tenacity is key.
“Be persistent . . . and don’t take it to heart because there’s a lot of other people [experiencing] it too. But if you keep at it, you’ll get it,” says Matshes.
By: Kiah Lucero
For more information on careers in agriculture explore our Nourishing Minds publications here.
1 Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council—How Labour Challenges Will Shape the Future of Agriculture in Alberta: Agriculture Forecast to 2029, 2019
2 LinkedIn—6 seconds is the average time spent reading a resume, 2017