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What Separates the Good from the Great?
By Ashley Collins – AgCareers.com

 

In the recruitment world, the fall is a busy time. For those currently attending college or university, the fall is a time when many campuses hold career fairs or networking events with employers. It’s also a time when various extracurricular programs hold annual meetings which often include a career fair or opportunity to visit booths of companies who could potentially become your future employer. On the more experienced professional side, the fall may be the time of year you begin looking for a career change and start putting out some networking ‘feelers.’ Some of those feelers may lead you to network with potential employers face-to-face, or if you’re lucky, they may even result in an interview. This interaction with employers is invaluable! In the technology driven era we’re in, it is not uncommon for all of the above to take place via email, social media, Skype, etc. which makes the opportunity to interact with a hiring manager or human resources representative face to face that much more instrumental for you in the journey to great career!

In my role at AgCareers.com, I am fortunate to oversee a portion of our business that allows me to interview and hire college and university students who are interested in working with AgCareers.com, but also interact with professionals who are using our website to find new employment opportunities. I spend a great deal of the fall traveling across the country attending industry events and career fairs. Having just wrapped up this busy season, coming right off the battle field one might say, I wanted to supply to our readers with a brief list of common areas for improvement you may want to consider as you embark on networking for your first or next career move!

  1. The agriculture industry is a great industry to work in! Something that can be both a pro and a con is that working in agriculture can be like being part of a small town where everybody knows everybody! This is especially true in the recruiting world. Those of us working the booths at the career fair tend to know one another quite well since many of us attend the same events. Someone is always watching and taking mental notes. If you are attending a career fair or industry event, be positive in all conversations, have a friendly expression on your face throughout the day, and show genuine interest during your conversations with employers. An overall friendly disposition can go a long way!
  2. Follow up! After you’ve had a conversation with someone regarding a career you are interested in, keep in touch. Send a follow up email, connect via LinkedIn, and reach out with additional questions. You don’t want to become an annoyance, but a simple follow up communication one to three days after the initial conversation shows your genuine interest in working with the company. And if you are only building your network for later, touching base every six to twelve months is certainly acceptable to make sure you are developing a relationship that will pay off in the long run.
  3. Do your homework. If you are attending a career fair or industry event where you will have the opportunity to network with employers, I cannot think of many cases where you are not made aware ahead of time what companies will be in attendance. The person who comes up to me and is already somewhat knowledgeable about my company, what positions we have available, and has a few questions ready to ask moves very quickly to the top of follow up list!
  4. Work on your intro. A firm handshake, eye contact, and friendly greeting set the tone for the conversation. We don’t bite. So many people walk past booths and stare at marketing signage behind the representative, then when they make eye contact with the person, they run! We are there because we want to talk to you, if our booth caught your eye please take the time to at least say hello.
  5. Your appearance makes an impression before you do. Granted we attend a variety of farm shows where attire may be more casual but cleanliness and personal grooming are still vital. At career fairs or more professional industry events the same rules apply and then some. Business attire at the least is expected and it should fit properly, you should be able to walk in the shoes you are wearing, and it should be seasonally appropriate.

There are a variety of factors that go into making a great impression versus a good one when interacting with employers, and these are just a few to keep in mind. Being yourself is above all the most important quality to portray. The spring can be just as busy as the fall, so if you are looking to make a move in the coming months hopefully these tips will help lead you to success. Check out more helpful articles in our newsletter archive section https://www.agcareers.com/info.cfm?task=narticles.