Farmers Guardian asked three big employers in agriculture what they look for in a candidate and their CV, plus the ultimate doS and don’ts of CV’s
Lacking basic literacy skills can often make applicants shy away from polishing up their CV, or even writing one in the first place.
It’s a problem which Jo Aitken, learning support and core skills manager, helps students overcome at SRUC. Jo also sits on the Farming with Dyslexia Working Group, led by NFU Scotland, which aims to help farmers of all ages overcome problems with paperwork brought about by the disability.
She says support can come in many ways, from something as simple as asking a family member to proof-read a CV or covering letter before it is sent to a prospective employer, to a study support worker sitting with an individual to help formulate its basic structure.
She says: “As many as one in 10 people suffer from dyslexia and it is a real issue, but the support is out there.
“We try to encourage people to use technology as much as possible too.
“Mobile phones apps to help those with dyslexia have really taken off and computers have voice recognition software to help transcribe what a person is saying.
“The overall message is we want people who lack the confidence to come and find the support they need.”
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John Deere training centre manager Richard Halsall says a good CV can make a really positive first impression on recruiters.
“A concise, well thought-out CV is a must, along with a flawless covering letter. Attention to detail in these documents is paramount,” he says.
Traditionally, John Deere has always looked for candidates with a farming background. But in recent years the company has cast its net wider to seek those with good business acumen, industry passion and a solid education in a relevant subject area, such as business and marketing.
“The candidates who are employed can demonstrate honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, drive, flexibility and passion, and have clear aspirations as to the direction in which they want their careers to travel.
“Working for John Deere can be tough, so we also look for a certain resilience and, of course, a good sense of humour.”
Richard Halsall, John Deere training centre manager
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The NFU employs hundreds of staff across many regions of the UK and Europe. A popular route into the organisation for a limited number of candidates each year is through the union’s graduate scheme. It offers the chance to work in either the policy or communications and marketing division.
Fran Barnes, director of communications, says: “Although the two schemes require different interests and technical knowledge, they both have the same core aim – looking for the best and brightest graduates who want to make a difference to British farming and NFU members.
“Competition for places is fierce so we can set the bar very high. The graduates who are successful in getting a place always have a CV bursting with experience, they are well presented, articulate and, above all, they want to make a difference to British farming.”
Fran Barnes, NFU director of communications
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Simon Blandford, lead director for the agribusiness recruitment programme with farm agency Savills, says he wants candidates to show off a range of skills when going through the recruitment process.
“A good CV is important because of what is represents; attention to detail, good written skills and an indication of the willingness to get into the workplace to gain early experience,” he says.
Savills has a formal graduate recruitment process which follows a structured training and professional development course over two years
“We look for good knowledge of practical agriculture, rural issues and the countryside, as well as strong IT and numeracy skills.
“Soft skills required include the ability to communicate effectively, be part of a team, be efficient, adaptable to change, self motivated, proactive, willing to undertake business development in and outside of the department and Savills.”
Simon Blandford, Savills director agribusiness recruitment