Creativity can be key in getting a job interview |

Creativity can be key in getting a job interview

A panel of agriculture careerists share tips with students on successfully finding a job in agriculture. From left to right are Katie Oschner, Lacey Hall, Randy Jackson, Marylyn Perry and Justin Jarecke.
Photo by TeresaC lark |

A prospective job candidate mailed a football with his name, address and phone number on it, along with a copy of his resume and cover letter to every potential company he wanted to work for. He got the job. “He used creativity, and he did something to make himself stand out,” Marylyn Perry said.

Perry was part of an agriculture panel who spoke with more than 60 college students last week during a career fair at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic in Kearney. More than 40 agriculture-based companies participated in the first-ever event.

During a noon luncheon, Perry, along with four agriculture career panelists spoke to students about applying for agriculture jobs, as well as preparing for interviews, creating a resume and cover letter, and getting their foot in the door.

Justin Jarecke, territory manager with Merck Animal Health, told students that a lot of positions are posted online, and it can be difficult to get past the online screening process. “Merck posts jobs for two weeks, so you always have to be watching,” he said. “Look at the job description, and figure out how to make your application fit that. Tailor your application for what they are looking for.”

Randy Jackson, who is an agriculture loan officer with First National Bank, said a well-organized resume is important. “Take out the fluff,” he said. “In the case of our bank, we are very community-minded, so find ways to appeal to that.”

“Look for key words in the job description, and tailor it to fit you,” said Lacey Hall, an account specialist with Farm Credit Services.

Katie Oschner, with the American Red Angus Association, told students about the importance of using a cover letter to let their personalities shine through. “A lot of us can’t spend a lot of time reviewing job applications so spelling and grammar is important. I would proofread my application three or four times, and have other people review it. Make it clean, concise and well-organized so it is easy to read,” she said.


Jarecke told the students to study the star interview method, which is accessible online. “A lot of companies follow that method during their interviews,” he said.

“Market yourself,” Perry said. “Show the company you care, and that you want to work for them.” She also recommended clearing any questionable social media on sites like Facebook that could be detrimental to getting the job. “Some companies have people who just search the social media sites of potential candidates.”

Jackson said it’s important to do some research and get to know the person who will be interviewing you. “Bankers have to get to know their customers, so do some research and find ways to relate,” he said.

“I would have a couple questions prepared to ask the person interviewing me,” Hall said. “Flip the table on them, which shows interest in them and their business. Also, I would be prepared to explain why I want the job and why they should hire me.”

Railen Ripp, who helped organize the event for the Classic, said the career fair was a great opportunity for college students to visit a diversified number of companies. “There was a lot of networking happening at the career fair,” she said. “Sometimes, students need an ‘in’ at a company. It is not always about what you know, but who you know.”

Willow Wieskamp, who is a second-year college student at Southeastern Community College, was looking for an internship, and found some valuable resources at the career fair. “The companies were really happy to talk to us, and I found it to be a good experience,” she said. “It was an opportunity to ask questions, and if the company didn’t have an intern program, I would make the suggestion that they create an intern program in the future.”

Ashlin Bussell, who is also a second-year student at SCC, liked being able to visit with a diversified number of companies to see what is out there. “I also liked listening to the discussion panel,” she said. “The tips for getting into the industry were so helpful. I thought their insights about social media were also important.”

The companies also had a lot to gain by participating. “We are always recruiting employees to join Farm Credit Services of America,” said Ryan Kirchhoff, who is a regional vice president for the company. “This career fair is 100 percent ag-focused. It is a great opportunity to meet individuals who are focused on ag careers”

Kristian Rennert of Alliance Liquid Feeds said it is a chance to reach out to college kids who may be returning to the family farm, but would like to supplement their income. “A lot of the opportunities we have within our company is feed dealerships,” he said. “These are especially good for young people going back to the family operation. They can use our feed themselves, plus sell some to customers to earn additional income.”

Hayden Geis of the University of Nebraska-Kearney liked the variety of companies at the fair. “I am looking for an internship, and a job after I graduate,” he said. “I think I am interested in something in equipment or feed sales, and I was able to visit with a lot of people about that here.”

Ripp said the event was so successful, they are already making plans to hold it again next year. “We want to continue to grow it,” she said. “Youth are the future of our industry, and kids have always been the main priority at the Cattlemen’s Classic. This event is focused around livestock, and provides students with an opportunity to network with companies they may not get to see someplace else.

— Teresa Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at

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