By Tyler Harris, SIG Chair
Whether you’re a young professional or a seasoned ag editor or communicator, resumes have changed over the last 20 years. What used to be hard-and-fast rules may no longer be applicable in today’s job market. While the situation may be different depending on the employer, there are a few things to keep in mind when updating your resume to stand out among other ag communicators.
The AAEA Young Professionals SIG recently hosted a webinar, featuring Gregg Hillyer, editor in chief of the Progressive Farmer, and Tim Hammerich, host of the “Future of Agriculture” podcast and founder of AgGrad, on refreshing your resume for the current job market. If you missed the webinar, click here to watch the recording. We’ve broken down a few key takeaways:
1. In today’s digital world, prospective job candidates are vetted differently than they were 20 years ago. Online services like Indeed are often used by applicants to search for jobs and upload resumes online and by employers to sort through job applicants and resumes. With these kinds of services, resumes are much more standardized, and some of the personality has been taken out of the process.
2. That said, cover letters are more important now than ever. This gives an opportunity to emphasize your strengths and sell yourself as a job applicant. It can also give more space to expand on details in your resume, or explain any gaps in employment history.
3. A number of employers work with talent acquisition partners who view resumes before the employers themselves do. These talent acquisition partners usually spend no more than 2 minutes scanning an individual resume – looking at education, skillsets, and red flags like gaps in employment history, or, if applying for a writing position, spelling and grammar errors.
4. When evaluating resumes, recruiters are typically asking two questions: 1) are you a good fit for the job? And, 2) are you serious about the position? So, be sure to include your phone number and email address, and make sure your voicemail box isn’t full.
5. When updating your resume, the “less is more” approach still holds true. Your resume should be no more than two pages in length – although one page is often preferred.
6. Optimize your resume for clarity – don’t use it as a dumping ground for everything you’ve ever done. Think of it as a narrative. It needs to be clear and tell the story of how you got where you are, leading up to the position you’re applying for, and too many details can water the narrative down. Put heavier emphasis on your recent work over the last three years and your current roles and responsibilities.
7. Consider providing a link to a portfolio with writing and photography samples to expand on the resume’s narrative. As an ag communicator, any experience writing about agriculture should be highlighted in your portfolio. Also, it’s a good idea to include a link to your LinkedIn page – especially if you have endorsements from colleagues you’ve worked with in your current and previous positions.
8. It’s important to tailor the resume – and cover letter – to the job you’re applying for. In other words, don’t send the same resume when applying for different jobs.
9. Most recruiters use an applicant tracking system (ATS), which uses artificial intelligence to identify keywords relevant to the position. So, after reading the job description, incorporate those keywords into your resume and cover letter using natural language – not jargon or buzzwords.
10. Finally, focus on major responsibilities and the value you’re bringing to the table. If you contributed to a project or publication, highlight your primary responsibilities, and metrics, where available, to gauge your contribution. Numbers showing improved readership, for example, are a quantifiable measure of success. In addition, any awards or recognition of accomplishments should be included. Meanwhile, you can watch the March webinar, and all archived AAEA webinars, online at agcommnetwork.com.