Job searching, like everything else, has changed over the past year. In-person interviews and career fairs are not as common as they once were. How are you supposed to compete with the sea of other applicants when you can’t distinguish yourself in-person? Below are a few tactics to add to your hunt during a pandemic.
Build a strong digital presence
Employers increasingly rely on social media to source for potential candidates. A powerful LinkedIn profile that promotes your background and skills will go a long way in ensuring recruiters find your in their searches. Make sure your Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. are clean and up to date in case employers decide to dive a little deeper into your online presence. If you have a portfolio of your work, be sure to display that on your social media accounts or your own website. Further, be certain to update your resume on any job boards.
Don’t simply wait for the right job to become available. Are you interested in a specific company or industry? Start connecting with recruiters and hiring managers on social media that work there. Our corporate and student recruiters spend time not only reviewing applications, but searching for great candidates on LinkedIn, Facebook, and various other job boards.
Practice video interviews
In theory, this should be like an in-person interview, but there’s a lot more to consider. First, review your resume and try to anticipate what you might be asked in an interview. You can practice giving simple, concise answers by recording yourself on a smartphone, tablet, or computer beforehand. Make sure your internet connection is strong and avoid sitting in front of a distracting background. Finally, virtual interviews could last up to an hour, so give yourself plenty of time.
Keep an open mind
Perhaps you’re pursuing accounting roles and firms just aren’t hiring right now. Broaden your horizons and consider other types of companies that may need someone with your skills. GROWMARK is widely known as an agriculture company, but we need employees outside of the ag realm too! Marketing, accounting, information technology, and logistics skills are always in demand, to name a few.
Don’t stop applying!
You may not land the first position you apply for, so you need to make it your job to find a job! Apply for as many jobs that interest you. Consider how your skills can translate into a different role and apply for new opportunities you may not have considered in the past. This is your chance to find a great role. So, get active on LinkedIn, Indeed, and the GROWMARK careers site! There are so many great opportunities out there waiting for you.
By: Abbey Lee, Recruiting Specialist
Many of us are dealing with unfamiliar circumstances these days. We are navigating our personal and professional lives around a global pandemic. It can be exhausting. The uncertainty of your current job, constant communication breakdowns with virtual platforms, and all the other roadblocks along the way.
I wanted to sit down and write to those who might stumble upon the GROWMARK Careers page in search of their next professional journey. Specifically, to those who are re-entering the professional sector or changing their career paths entirely.
I joined GROWMARK in July of 2019. I hadn’t held a position in recruiting, human resources, or at a mid-large sized company with a corporate structure. What I had was 8 years of experience as a GM of a local small business and a passion for helping people. Changing jobs completely was terrifying! Though my career path is untraditional, I am constantly connecting with people who are trying to conquer the same problems I had to overcome. The big question is always “how?” This post does not have a defined solution to guarantee a smooth reentry into the workforce. Instead, I have put together the three steps that worked for me. They aren’t guarantees, but they might be able to help you in returning to the workforce or changing your career path.
Define your “Why”
Before returning to college to complete my bachelor’s degree in 2016, I had to define my “Why.” When we understand our why, we start to better define our purpose and how we can fulfill our purpose. I don’t recommend using it to specifically define your next job, but to outline parts of a career that will satisfy your mind and soul.
I love people. I want to connect and positively impact anyone I meet in some way. When I decided to leave the small business I had managed for 8 years, I took a complete leap of faith because I knew I needed more growth and diversity than that career could offer me. I didn’t start off looking for any specific positions, I simply knew that I found fulfillment when I was able to interact with people from all walks of life. I knew that a part of my purpose is serving and helping others. If you want to know more about finding your “Why” or developing a purpose statement – a quick Google or YouTube search will bring up fantastic resources to help you define yours. Remember, the point of this exercise isn’t to find specifics. It’s about narrowing your passions and finding parts of a career that align with your purpose.
Most hiring managers look for the same things when hiring new employees. For the most part, they would rather hire for attitude and train for skill over the reverse. Big secret time… hiring managers are people just like us! They know that passion and drive far outweighs a wealth of knowledge with no motivation. If you want the job, don’t hide or minimize it in your interviews or communication. Read the job description over and over to formulate examples that you can tie from your personal or professional life to showcase your talent. Regardless of whether you’re changing career paths entirely or haven’t been in the workforce for some time, your experiences matter! Look at your experiences and find connectors that answer areas of the job functions you’re hoping to have if you get hired in your desired role. If you’re asked about specific technology or parts of the job where you don’t have experience, be honest and authentically explain the passion and solutions-focused mindset you’ll use in learning something new.
BUILD YOUR NETWORK!
Let me say it again for the people in the back - build your network! Start making connections through sources like LinkedIn and the friends surrounding you. If you think you can offer something, you will offer something. I spend time on LinkedIn at least twice a week. I converse, read, learn, and network with people around me so I continually have a safety net of folks who see my passion and work regularly. This not only opens doors, but it keeps you focused on a growth mindset. Networking isn’t meeting new people for the sake of a good conversation (that is one product of it), but creating a winning strategy for your career path. You light your road to success a little brighter with each person you intentionally connect with. Again, understanding your purpose allows you to strategically find those who can help amplify your aspirations.
Defining your “why” points you in the right direction. Authenticity allows people to believe you can do what you say. Building a network aligns you with plenty of opportunities and chances to lock in a fulfilling career. These three steps helped me find a career that I truly enjoy each day. Even on the rough ones, I find myself being thankful to have a career that checks a lot of the boxes that leaves me feeling fulfilled.
One last thing
The last (and bonus) tip I have to offer is remembering that sometimes the hunt can take time. Sometimes we get a lot of “no” before we hear a “yes”. In everything I do, I always remind myself of my favorite quote (author unknown): “Don’t let your setback cause you to sit back, prepare for your comeback.”
By: Mike Miner, Recruiter
Finding the right job to apply for is not always easy, especially when you may be doubting your qualifications for a position. Maybe you’re a recent college graduate, you’re switching to a different industry, or you’ve taken some time away from working in the corporate environment. Whatever the reason, it is important to understand and be confident in the things you do bring to the table. This could be a set of applicable “soft skills”, education, or an incredible work ethic and positive attitude. Whatever makes you the best candidate, showcase it. Check out the tips below to learn how to best position yourself for your next great opportunity.
Perfect Your Resume. Make sure your resume is up to date and organized in a way that is customized for the job you’re applying for. The recruiting team will notice if there are key words on your resume that directly correlate to essential skills for the position. Study the job description and make updates to your resume.
Highlight Your Transferrable Skills. Transferrable skills like communication, time management, managing conflict, and collaborating well with people are important for a multitude of different roles. Having these skills may trump having a few years of technical experience, so focus on them when you can.
Create Your Network. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one. If you already have one, work on strengthening your profile to achieve the “All-Star” status. Start connecting with employees of the company you are interested in, share their blog posts, and interact with them on social media. Show that you are interested in what they do.
Be Available, Be Attentive, and Be Amazing. When you get the call for a phone screen or in-person interview, be prepared. Show the employer that you are available and be flexible with their schedule. Make sure you are actively listening when the hiring team is speaking. Don’t glance at your phone or fidget with your hands. Show them that they are the most important thing during that 30-60 min session.
Be Confident. As a friend once told me before my first big interview, only you know your story. Only you know how your experiences made you feel and made you grow. All employers want to learn about is you.
While there is no perfect strategy, there are several ways to enhance your chances of getting the job. Show your passion for the job and if you receive the offer, be prepared to prove your passion every single day. Don’t let up because you got the position; continue to show them why they hired you and make them proud of their decision. Next time you apply for a position, try thinking differently. Tell yourself you are exactly what they need.
By: Ashland Eckhart, Member & Student Recruiting Coordinator
You just registered for a career fair, signed up for a networking event, or applied to your “dream” job. Now it’s time to shine! Talking about yourself can be a struggle for some people, but as the saying goes “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. In other words, make that first impression count! Job interviews, career fairs, networking events, and professional development events can be extremely intimidating. Your nerves are high, your palms are sweaty, and the pressure is on, but nothing makes a better impression than confidence and a seamless elevator pitch. We are here to help you find a way to stand out from the crowd!
The purpose of an elevator pitch is to share your experiences and background as concisely as possible. Your pitch can be shared verbally during a conversation at an event, in a written message to a recruiter or on your professional networking page. For example, below is an elevator pitch based on my experience:
“Hello, my name is Jena Patrick. I am the Sr. Student Recruiter at GROWMARK where I build and maintain relationships with schools surrounding all FS company territories throughout North America and Canada. I have over 5 years of general recruiting experience, 3 of which are focused on student recruiting. I love working with people and pride myself on my ability to adapt to change and communicate effectively. I noticed an opportunity in student recruiting listed on your website and am interested in learning more about this position and share why I feel I’d be a great fit!”
Tips to keep in mind when developing your own elevator pitch:
Keep it short and concise! This should be a quick summary of who you are - your education, skills and unique qualities, and state the goal of the conversation. Ending with a question is always a good way to lead into the next part of the conversation.
Know Your Audience! You can tailor your elevator pitch just like you would your resume or cover letter. Look up opportunities before approaching a career fair booth so you can acknowledge exactly why you are interested in their company. Research the company before applying for a job so you can explain your interest level during an initial conversation.
Practice! You don’t want to sound like you are reading a script. Know what message you want to share and deliver it with ease. Practice with a friend, family member, colleague, or even in the mirror!
Deliver with Confidence! No one knows your background, strengths, skills, or experiences like you do. Be confident about your delivery, share your strengths, discuss your background, and let the audience know why you’d be a great fit for their company!
Jena Patrick, Sr. Student Recruiter
CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed… where do you begin? Job searches can often be stressful and with so many different job boards now available, it can be tough to determine which may be the right one for your search. Before going out and creating profiles for every job board under the sun, take some time to consider which one will work best for you by looking at some of the websites to see the type of jobs that are available. Are the jobs posted on that board aligned with what you are looking for in a new role? Let’s take a deeper look at some of my favorite places to go.
Indeed - Indeed consistently ranks among the top job boards on nearly every list that is available online. As far as ease of use and number of openings available, they are tough to beat. You can easily search for and apply to roles of interest. Indeed will even give you a time frame of how long the role has been open. Another feature they offer is the ability to set up job alerts with your own search parameters. When looking for a job, especially an entry-level role, Indeed should be your first stop.
LinkedIn - While it may not technically be a job board, LinkedIn is a great place to look for and be found for potential job opportunities. The social networking site even gives you suggested jobs based on your work history and location, working as an aid in your search! LinkedIn will send you periodic emails with new positions you may be interested in as well, without the need to set up job alerts. Recruiters also commonly seek out LinkedIn profiles when filling their open positions. Completing your LinkedIn profile and adding your resume can help you get noticed by recruiters for the right opportunity. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and let the best roles come to you!
Niche - Don’t forget to check out industry specific boards such as AgCareers (Agriculture) or Dice (IT) that focus on jobs in the industry you are interested in. This will take out some of the leg work required to sift through the many postings listed on more general job boards and allow you to focus on opportunities within your desired industry.
All in all, there is no one stop shop or best job board for every job hunt. Take some time to reflect on the type of opportunity you want to pursue as well as research which board best fits your needs and you will be on the road to a successful job search.
By: Luke Koebler, Sourcing Specialist
If you’re new to your career, or just starting out, you’re likely not thinking about how important benefits are in your choice of company. You’re applying to places that will give you great experience to put you one step closer to your dream job or places that will offer you a great salary! While those are excellent considerations, what a company offers is much more comprehensive than just salary or experience.
This one usually comes to mind first when you think of a benefits package. A company typically has a contract with an insurance provider, and you are given a choice of plans to choose from – medical, dental, vision, and life insurance are the most common. Companies will also share in the monthly cost, so you aren’t paying the full premium for the insurance every month. Make sure you ask how much the company typically shares in medical premiums per month – that will make a huge difference in your paycheck! Think of your insurance needs now and in the future. A company with a solid medical plan that also shares the cost of the monthly premium can be a game changer.
Vacation and Personal Days
This is another big consideration of a benefits package and everyone’s needs are different. Ask if vacation days accrue throughout the year or if they are given up front. Do you lose the days you don’t use? Do they rollover to the next year, or does the company offer other compensation for those days not used?
Some companies offer paid time-off outside of your typical vacation, personal and holidays. These “extra” paid leaves can be volunteer days, family leave, parental leave and so much more. Take time to understand those “extra” paid leave policies the company might have!
Most companies offer a 401(k), or similar investment plan, that helps you set aside a certain amount of your salary toward retirement. Some companies will even contribute to your retirement fund in the form of matching your contribution. At GROWMARK, we also have a robust pension benefit that impacts our retirement income in a huge way. GROWMARK contributes to our 401(k) but also provides a pension, which is a monthly benefit received at retirement for our lifetime. It’s a retirement account we don’t contribute a dime too, and the benefit is based off our salary and eligible time at GROWMARK. Check with the employer you’re considering see if they offer a pension and how it could impact your retirement income. This benefit could outweigh a competing offer with a higher salary.
This is probably not something you’d consider as part of a benefits package, but if you’re looking to build new skills and forge great work relationships, don’t overlook this! As a GROWMARK employee, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in social media branding, writing, and even leadership workshops. Trainings like these keep you sharp and help you develop new skills, so be sure to check if the company has a training and development program in place.
Pursuing higher education with a full-time position can be stressful and extremely expensive, but there are plenty of companies that offer reimbursement for all or part of your tuition. This could apply to standalone courses and workshops or enrollment at a college or university.
While it’s more common for larger companies to offer tuition reimbursement, smaller companies may offer aid such as a more flexible schedule. Just make sure to research the company’s policies on this benefit because it’s possible you may only be reimbursed for courses related to your field of work.
This may not be applicable for everyone, but if you’re planning to accept an offer that would require you to move, it’s important to know if that company will cover any portion of your moving expenses such as transportation or temporary housing. Even if it hasn’t been mentioned in an interview or offer letter, it’s important to ask what their capability is in this area.
A company has the potential to offer so much more than just a salary or experience! So, before you accept an offer, consider all their benefits package has to offer. If you need tuition reimbursement or a more flexible schedule, take some time with the recruiter or hiring manager to discuss what else the company may be able to provide. This could make a huge difference in your choice of jobs!
By: Abbey Lee, Recruiting Specialist with Marissa Williams, Benefits Communication & Education Specialist
You just had a successful interview where you were able to display your knowledge, skills, and abilities in an awe-inspiring fashion to the interview panel. You confidently built solid rapport, had a great discussion about the position and talked about how you align with the role and the company. You asked great thought-provoking questions based on the information provided to you during the interview. As the interview concluded, you summarized why you’re the best candidate for the position. All signs point to greatness, but there are likely other candidates in consideration feeling the exact same way. So, what can you do to help separate yourself after the interview?
Send a thank you note in the mail – yes, the USPS mail. Send a thank you note to everyone who was part of the interview. If you interviewed with the hiring manager, another person on the team and a recruiter – then send 3 thank you cards.
Send a thank you email – If electronic correspondence is more your style, send a thank you email to everyone that you spoke with during the interview. Try to send the email on the same day as the interview.
Suggestions for writing a thank you card / email
Good luck, and always follow up!
By: George Moore, Recruiter
“Should I include a cover letter when submitting a resume?” This is a question I have been asked countless times in my years of recruiting. I always give the same answer.
When seriously considering new employment, it is always best practice to leave nothing to chance. Control all things controllable, which means writing a standout cover letter.
Over my career, I have had the fortune of working alongside hiring managers from a wide spectrum of industries. I built professional relationships with these individuals while recruiting talent for their organizations, and I learned firsthand about candidate screening etiquette. So, while I don’t represent a national consensus, I can offer professional insights along with these few lessons I learned that will be sure to make for a standout cover letter.
By: Niko Cinquepalmi, Student Recruiter
In my nearly 6 years recruiting for GROWMARK, Inc., I have had the opportunity to speak with people across a wide range of backgrounds, education, and skillsets– all looking for that next step in their professional life. I hear many people’s stories and learn about their strengths, but so many of them qualify their expertise with “...but, I don’t have any farming experience.” If you are one of those people and you’ve stumbled upon my post, I’ve got great news! The FS GROWMARK System has opportunities for you too - No farm experience needed!
Ok… maybe I shouldn’t say NO farm experience needed. Will some positions require an agronomic background? Of course! Does that mean only farmers or people with an agriculture degree are qualified for a job here? Absolutely not!
Just like other industries, ag companies offer opportunities in accounting/finance, HR, IT and other business-related areas. For many of those positions, agriculture experience is not required. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that even ag companies have jobs that may be a fit for you. Here are some tips that can help you decide:
Start thinking outside the box when it comes to envisioning your career path. Expand your job search to industries that you do not have direct experience with. You could be missing a great opportunity that fits your skills and career goals. A great place to start your search would be the GROWMARK Careers Page. Check it out!
By: Megan Peterson, Recruiter
Unprecedented is a word we’ve heard repeatedly over the last few weeks. The Coronavirus has impacted society and our daily lives in so many ways that the word unprecedented has turned into an undesirable buzz word. This time has been and will remain challenging for the foreseeable future, but if you are anything like me, you are ready for something positive.
Let’s use this time as an unprecedented opportunity. An opportunity to spend meaningful time with your family. An opportunity to connect with friends (remotely) with whom you’ve fallen out of touch. An opportunity to improve your physical fitness. An opportunity to be creative. An opportunity to take on those projects around the house that you’ve put off for too long. An opportunity to read a book that’s been on your shelf for a year. An opportunity to improve yourself.
Life has pulled us all in many directions, but now it’s your turn to push. We have this unprecedented opportunity to invest in ourselves. In the words of Eddie Vedder “I know I was born, and I know that I’ll die, the in between is mine.” Now is the time for the ‘in between’ to have the spotlight. Go do it! Get yourself motivated knowing that we are all in this together and there is no better time than right now to take initiative in your life in ways that you’ve been putting off. How many times have you said, “if I only had the time?’ What is your excuse now?
Make those memories with your family, teach yourself that new skill, take those extra 10 lbs off! Do it for you! Once you start putting emphasis on the things that you’ve been putting off or avoiding, your brain will begin changing in a good way. Article after article talks about the positive effect on your brain after exercising, working with your hands, reading a novel, learning a new skill or simply going for a walk outside.
I understand not everyone has the opportunity to have more time at home right now. Maybe I’m seeing things differently due to this being day 11 at home since packing up my work and bringing it home with me. All I know is that if I can use this time to accomplish something that normal life makes difficult, I’m going to do it – and that’s going to make me that much better when the dust settles, and we’re back to ‘normal.’
Use this unprecedented time on you and you will not regret it!
By: George Moore, Recruiter
Whether it’s your first Career Fair or your fourth, there’s something overwhelmingly intimidating about the possibility of meeting your future employer. Here’s the thing- those jitters, at a normal level, are a good tool to use as your driving force to success! Have confidence, but have the humility to properly market yourself to your full potential. As an undergraduate senior, I have seen (and made) plenty of mistakes. Here’s a short list of some of the things I have found the most useful while preparing for a career fair.
Regardless of how perfect you view your resume, a second set of eyes such as a teacher or employer may catch things you didn’t see. Make sure to ask well in advance to give them enough time to help you!
This one seems a little obvious, but it is so important. Pick it out, try it on, then try it on again. Does it fit right? Do you feel confident in it? Also, have a backup outfit just in case you spill coffee on yourself on your way out the door. If you don’t have an appropriate outfit, check with your college Career Services office. They typically have a closet filled with various sizes and styles for free!
One of the most embarrassing things that can happen when talking to a company representative is not having an answer to the question, “So, what do you know about (insert company)?” Knowing basic information about the company will give you an edge over candidates who may not.
The most important thing to know when going into a career fair is to know who you are. The term elevator pitch refers to a short speech about yourself that can be competed in a short elevator ride. The essentials for a student would be name, location, year in school, major, and any steps you’ve taken to reach your career goals. I also like to include why I chose my major and a memorable fact about myself.
A career fair will be as beneficial as you allow it to be. Make a list of general questions that can be used for any company you visit, as well as a list specifically tailored to companies you have a unique interest in. Not only will you gather vital information, but recruiters will appreciate the effort!
As cheesy as it may be, confidence is key. Know where you’re going, where to park, and how much time you have to spend. If you only have an hour between classes, you don’t want to spend half of it talking to companies that aren’t related to your field. All of this information should be on the college website.
Believe it or not, recruiters are real people and have personalities too! This means they want to get to know yours. Of course, professionalism is required, but being robotic is not. Not only is being yourself allowed, but recruiters will enjoy their time with you considerably more. They want to know your education and skills, but they also want to know how you’ll fit into their culture. Smile, shake hands, and take a breath. Everyone is on the same team.
By: Halle White, GROWMARK Campus Ambassador
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Farm Progress Show. This blog isn’t necessarily about the Farm Progress Show, but more about its heart – the people who travel hundreds of miles just to be a part of something incredibly special. A diverse gathering of advocates who believe in and defend the stewardship of our food production.
In the short time I was there, I met two agriculture scientists from South Africa and learned about their challenges and opportunities they face in the Ag industry. I met Carol from Ohio who just celebrated a century legacy of farming and is concerned about losing their land to encroaching development. I met Rachel and John from Ontario. Rachel’s father delivered fuel for FS and died of a brain aneurysm during a delivery and her son Ben desires a future in the Ag world. I met two farmers from Brazil embracing the experience to learn and network with others. I could go on, but my point is simple…saying hello and asking, “Who are you and what brings you here?” provides a wonderful opportunity to listen, to truly listen with an open heart and mind. People love to share their stories and it is a gift to receive them.
Listening is often thought of as something we do for someone. However, listening is about learning to listen to our self – our True Self – getting to know the inner voice of our soul. When we deepen the relationship with ourselves, we develop the sensitivity to listen to others.
Listening is connecting to something beyond ourselves and enriches our lives at the same time. It’s about creating space and sharing a moment of presence with another. Present to receive without judgement or feeling the urge to interrupt. Listening is truly a sacred act of kindness in the most genuine way.
Questions to ponder:
By: Stacey Curry Lee
The week before my internship ended, I was practicing for my internship project presentation when I stopped to take a phone call from my mom. It was a Thursday morning, exactly one week before the GROWMARK internship conclusion meeting, and I found out that my grandpa had passed away.
That day was mostly a blur. I was repeatedly given the option to go home, but my grandparents lived out of state, so I chose to stay at work the rest of the day. I don’t remember what I did the rest of the day, or even the rest of that week, but I do remember the kindness and compassion of my coworkers. The cards, hugs, and quiet understanding I received from fellow interns and other employees during those two weeks are some of my biggest takeaways from this internship experience.
The individuals I met during my 12 weeks at GROWMARK demonstrated a level of caring that surpassed any company culture I previously experienced. Throughout my internship, I spent most of my time exploring what a communications position entails, but I didn’t stop to consider what it was about this organization that really makes it unique. I’ve enjoyed working for other companies, but this was the first environment where I could see myself building a career.
There is a saying about a company only being as good as its employees, and that is exactly why I think GROWMARK has been successful. The company vision is to be the best agricultural cooperative system in North America, and they are achieving it by hiring the best people. GROWMARK fosters a culture that turns coworkers into friends, and friends into family.
As my internship ends and I begin my search for full time employment, I know exactly what attributes I am looking for in a company, and what values matter the most to me as an employee. As difficult as the past two weeks have been, I am determined to remember the lesson I’ve learned: you can’t put a price tag on company culture.
By: Becca Dwyer
It’s been awhile since we brought you back to the roots of this blog. I realize there are some new faces here, exploring the purpose and value of this blog. I am here to help! Welcome to the GROWMARK, Inc. Talent Management blog. Our recruiting team has a mission to improve transparency between the company’s people and the public. To improve our communication to the outside world, we have created this blog. Here are a few topics you can expect to find on our blog in the future months to come:
By: Tori Streitmatter
Sometimes when you change your mind that changes everything. In his book, "Six Thinking Hats," Edward De Bono points out that "The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. We try to do too much at once. It is like juggling with too many balls." Emotions, information, logic, hope, obstacles and creativity all crowd in on us. The more people involved in the thinking process, the more confusing it may become!
To counter this state of confusion, De Bono offers a simple process for doing one type of thinking at a time – one of "six thinking hats" that represents a distinct way of thinking or perspective. Individuals or groups put on or take off a “hat” to signal the type of thinking being used. This helps us to be cooperative rather than adversarial. When we "put on" different hats in a sequence it aids the problem-solving process in a shorter amount of time.
The Six Thinking Hats are:
The White Hat - facts and figures
The Red Hat - emotions and feelings
The Black Hat - cautious and careful
The Yellow Hat - speculative, positive
The Green Hat - creative thinking
The Blue Hat - control of thinking
De Bono continues, "The six thinking hats allow us to conduct our thinking as a conductor might lead an orchestra." Groups avoid confusion and the problems of adopting random positions at random times. It helps push individuals and teams beyond typical or habitual patterns of thinking.
Six Thinking Hats help us individually and corporately see opportunities, challenges, decisions and obstacles from new perspectives. When we see our circumstances from new perspectives, very often we uncover possibilities that otherwise we would have missed.
By: Mark Sturgell
12 weeks doesn’t seem like a terribly short amount of time, but a 12-week internship is only 60 work days. Each day at an internship is an opportunity to gain experience and grow as a professional, and with only 30 days left, I’m wondering how the time passed so quickly.
When I began the intern program at GROWMARK, I had minimal prior experience in communications, and I had a lot of doubt over my ability to produce quality content for the System. Fortunately, my supervisor and coworkers did not share the same mentality. They saw through my lack of formal experience to my transferable skills, and found value in my experiences with customer service, teamwork, and time management. My supervisor believed in my capability as a professional and her trust enabled me to build confidence in a new field by allowing me to work independently.
During the first half of my internship, I had a few moments of honesty with my coworkers regarding my lack of experience. They took those conversations and turned them into chances to teach me new skills. Luckily, GROWMARK places a lot of value in training and professional development, and I was given the chance to gain practical experience where I felt particularly lacking. Instead of ignoring the problem areas that I struggle with, my team gave me the opportunity to grow. I am honestly amazed at how much I have learned over the first half of my time in the System.
Ultimately, the projects that I was most concerned about have turned out to be the projects that I had the most fun with. It was difficult to have those conversations in the beginning but the value of the experiences that came from them mean so much more because of where I started from. I continue to be surprised by how much I enjoy my job so far, and I can honestly say that most days it doesn’t even feel like work.
As the old saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun, and that certainly has proved true so far this summer. I am excited to see what else I can learn in the next 30 work days, and I would encourage anyone who interns at GROWMARK to take full advantage of the 60 opportunities for growth.
By: Becca Dwyer
Dove-tailing off other blogs written this year the trend has been, well, rain and frustration. Being new to GROWMARK I never thought much of rain other than what it meant for my yard. Growing up in rural NE Iowa, I was raised in very tight-knit farming community. This has always given me a strong appreciation for farming, but being honest, in recent years through college, starting a family, and a fast-tracked career in insurance, I stopped paying attention to the ag industry altogether.
In my new position as a field trainer I’ve had the amazing opportunity of traveling across Iowa, Illinois and Missouri all this spring. Everywhere I go the conversation is generally the same: frustration about the amount of rain. Which has led to worried farmers, worried crop specialists, worried general managers, etc. This level of frustration by many made me reflect on why I chose to go into ag industry in the first place.
Late in 2018, I was shocked to receive notice that my job (and my amazing team) were no longer needed, and as a result I was laid off. My job search was one of the hardest things to endure as I was dealing with a ton of emotion. I had been a top performer for 9+ years, I was being groomed for director-level leadership roles, my team had outperformed other teams, and our business unit valued our work – how had this even happened? It didn’t compute, it was frustrating, and maddening at times.
Similar to how our companies and their customers are frustrated with the weather you must stop and ask, “what is in my control?” This was my mantra for several months and carried me through a very difficult time in my life. The amount of stress, frustration, angst, was plenty for me, but I kept focus on the long-term payoff. Simply put, it was vital in keeping the faith. Like my job search, we need to be that voice for our companies and their customers. Keeping them focused on what’s in their control and positioning them for the best success as possible – even if it’s a down year we can still make a difference.
Now into my second month at GROWMARK, I have realized this: sometimes you make career choices, but sometimes a career chooses YOU… With that, I’ll encourage you to take pride in the amazing industry you are in, strive to make a difference, stay focused on the long-term, and help people along the way. By doing this, you will always have job fulfillment and a purpose driven career.
By: Joe Wegmann
As Memorial Day came to a close, it was a good personal reminder to take time and reflect. As I thought about our spring season and summer quickly approaching, our farmer customers come to mind. As we all continue complaining about the continuous season of rain we are experiencing, our farmers are not necessarily complaining but becoming worried. They are worried about getting their crops planted before the crop insurance cut-off. They are worried about their crops not getting into the field. They are worried. Although many people have never set foot inside a tractor cab we, as fellow humans, can empathize with farmers: they are our neighbors, they are our fellow humans.
Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead talks about empathy and the human connection. “Empathy is not connecting to an experience, it’s connecting to the emotions that underpin an experience.” We ourselves may not have the weight of the world’s appetite on our shoulders, however, we can share a human connection.
We eat. We utilize fuel in our homes, vehicles, and public transportation. We wear clothes. All of the previously mentioned actions are a result of a farmer. We are connected to them each and every day. There have been or will be days where: it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, we are running late for an appointment or work, or we have a task to complete on a tight schedule. The emotions we feel during those times are relatable to our farmers right now.
As the weather dries out (hopefully) and farmers make a push to get in the field. Reflect and remember to slow down when you see the slow-moving vehicle triangle because that is their office, and they have an important job to do on a tight schedule. Reflect on the United States having the most affordable and safest food supply in the world because of our farmers. Reflect on our ability to make a human connection even if we have not directly been in their shoes and create a connection through empathy.
By: Amie Hasselbring
Have you ever started a new position at a company, only to feel like the job just doesn’t fit? Do you find yourself chasing a new lead, just to end up disappointed with the day-to-day work? You might be making the same mistake I did.
Like many college students, my career path has taken a few unexpected turns. Agriculture has always been a part of my life, but until this past year, I didn’t see it as a career option. I chased after positions with impressive descriptions, like working on the trade floor at Bank of America, only to find myself unhappy and unengaged in that role.
I was trying to build a career based on what I thought was important, not what was important to me. I recently began pursuing a career in agriculture, which led me to the Communications Internship at GROWMARK.
To some, working in communications might not sound interesting at all. To me, working with employees of the GROWMARK System and experiencing their growth firsthand is an exciting opportunity. As a communications intern, one of my responsibilities is to share System stories with employees and the public, and I get to build experience in a new field along the way.
That’s really what an internship is all about: gaining exposure to different roles in a company to find the fit that works for you. Whether it’s your first time in a position or you’ve already explored a few options, taking charge and capitalizing on those opportunities will set you up for a long and engaged career. Stay tuned this summer to find out if communications is the right fit for me!
By: Becca Dwyer
It’s that time of year again…graduation! What a momentous time it is – celebrating achievements of friends and family members. Let me tell you, after years of hard work, graduation is an accomplishment worth celebrating. So, congratulations to all the new grads out there! Here are some words of wisdom from me to you:
As a new graduate, it is easy to get lost in dollar signs. Trust me, I get it – those student loans are real and they are breathing down your neck! If this sounds familiar, it may be easy to consider working for companies you have no connection to but can see yourself making the big bucks there. It is important to remember, money isn’t everything. Make sure you consider the companies values and mission, their benefits package, and how their path could lead you where you want to go!
Get out of the house (or the office!):
Don’t let work consume your life! It’s always important to make time for yourself, your family and your friends – but as a new grad, it’s also important to have new experiences and make the most of those early years of your career. Get out and try something new – travel, join a new organization, join a work league and meet new people. Whatever it is, just get out and about and remember it’s for your own well-being!
Stay involved with your school:
You have a shiny new diploma to add to your collection from a school you spent some time at. Whether 2 years or 4 years, that place holds some significance to you. Keep that in mind as you get older – come back for homecoming, buy from a fundraiser of an old student organization you loved and give back when you can!
Pass along your wisdom:
You learned a lot (some more useful things than others), but you learned nonetheless. Why not take some of what you learned back to your old stomping grounds. If you are asked to return as a guest speaker to a classroom – say yes. If you are asked to participate in a panel for your career center – say yes. Just spread that wealth of knowledge you have built and worked so hard for to others who need to hear your story.
Never stop learning:
Don’t get complacent! It’s not always those who graduated at the top of their class or had the best offers at the best companies that can be our only definitions of success. Those who adapt and are eager to learn are those who are most successful. Pick up a book or an article related to your industry. Attend conferences. Expand your network and learn from new people. You’ll thank me later.
By: Kayla Portwood
So many times, in life we use the excuse “I don’t have enough time.” Ultimately, we put aside our own personal development. The most important key to your successful growth is your own sense of personal responsibility for your development. Here are 5 steps to help proactively drive your development and establish a cycle of continuous learning. Following these steps will lead to elevating your growth. Development is not a one-time event, it is ongoing.
Elevating your growth has many ingredients that play a big part towards being successful. Are you Sincere? Tough? Practical? Do you stand out? Do you get results? Are you known for something and have a value statement that represents you in your conversations?
Here are 10 Steps to Elevate your Growth:
Development is not a onetime event, it is ongoing. Challenge yourself daily to devote time to your most important asset: YOU!
By: Brian Dennis
I recently came across an article which talked about the appropriate time to have the salary discussion during the interview process. As a recruiter, I quickly opened this article to see if it provided the same advice that I would…turns out, it didn’t! The article advised candidates to wait as long as possible to discuss salary with their potential employer. That is the opposite of what I would recommend. Let’s look at some of the myths surrounding this topic and why it benefits you to have the salary discussion early in the process!
Myth: Recruiters ask for your salary requirements, so they can low-ball you when it comes time for an offer.
Fact: Honest recruiters are not asking for your salary information so that they can in turn offer you the least amount possible. We ask that question to ensure that we can meet your salary expectations and to verify that you are seeking a position within the organization that is at an appropriate level for your skills and experience while also meeting your financial needs.
Another important reason we ask? So, we do not waste your time, the hiring manager’s time or our own time, if we know with certainty that we cannot offer you the salary you require.
Myth: Telling a recruiter how much you make will limit what you will be offered.
Fact: Reputable organizations will pay you market rate or higher. When we look to hire someone for a role, we WANT to offer them enough to incentivize them. Our goal is to ensure you are being paid fairly and commensurate with your experience.
Myth: Wait for an offer to be made, THEN try to get everything you want.
Fact: It is helpful for the recruiter to know your requirements and expectations ahead of an offer. This is not only limited to your salary expectation, but also any expectations you have about paid time off, benefits, bonuses, etc. Again, this is not so the recruiter can offer you the bare minimum, but so that they can make you a competitive offer! Leaving all your requests to the end of the process can cause delays and even the potential for the offer to be rescinded.
I get it - conversations about salary are uncomfortable at best. No one likes talking about it, but it’s immensely important during the recruiting process. What should you do when the dreaded salary question comes up?
Ultimately, the earlier you have the conversation with a prospective employer about salary, the better off you will be. The recruiting process is a collaboration between candidate and employer. Be open and honest and it will serve you well!
By: Megan Peterson
The movie "Hidden Figures" brought attention to the historical contributions three brilliant women made to John Glenn's mission to orbit the earth and provided insight as to what goes on behind the scenes. Spectators see the memorable images of the rocket blasting off and the impressiveness of the event. When, behind the scenes, people were tasked with making such an event come together.
Although on a much smaller scale than a rocket-ship, it is an eLearning Designers job to make eLearning experiences memorable for the learner (or spectator), and we are tasked with the mission to make it come together. To do that, we use software created specifically for eLearning design. For you, as the learner, it may resemble the simplicity of a PowerPoint presentation, but the functionality is different and more complex.
Have you ever played a video game that, based on your interaction, took you to a different part of the game? eLearning design is similar because unlike PowerPoint, it is a responsive environment. The designer is tasked with writing the scripting/coding that tells the program what to do and how to do it based on interaction.
Different than PowerPoint, where all the screens appear in order, eLearning courses jump around within themselves with interaction. You may be at the beginning of a course but clicking on any responsive item might send you to the end of the course where a specific location is housing interactive items. You never see it happen. All you see is that it popped up, and when you closed it, you were back on the original screen.
Because it runs seamlessly, it brings the misperception that eLearning courses can be used as PowerPoint presentations and printed for handouts, but they are not similar in structure or design. For example, when printing PowerPoint presentations, the slides will print in order. On the contrary, eLearning software doesn't offer a print option because the pages are not in order. They function on the scripting/coding behind the scenes and printing an eLearning course from the software would result in a nonsensical order of pages.
When you take an eLearning course, watch the items you click on. Each one is moving you around in a self-contained-environment and you never see it happening. But rest assured, somebody, somewhere, worked behind the scenes to provide you with a memorable, interactive experience.
By: Carrie Harshman
Let's face it: most of us make our New Year's goals around 12:00 a.m. on January 1st and by February we are wondering what we've gotten ourselves into. Each year we look toward the next 365 days and say, 'this year I will accomplish [blank].' Business Insider recently posted an article stating 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February with some failing as early as January 12th. We get so excited about the New Year and our new selves, but this excitement quickly fades with the busyness of life and discomfort of change.
Sticking to our goals doesn't have to be that complicated if we can understand three simple ideas when making and setting our goals. By following AAA (Accountability, Attainability, and Action) we can crush our goals and see them through January 12th and beyond. I have unpacked in brief detail the AAA's below:
Follow these simple steps and make 2019 your greatest year yet!
By: Brandon Umphrey
It’s 2019, and with the change of the year, certain things will come into and out of style. Self-driving cars are on the rise. The Tide Pod challenge (remember that 2018 story?) is a distant memory. Boot-cut jeans are making a comeback, and tablet devices (when is the last time someone bragged about getting an iPad?) are on the decline.
You know what is never going to go out of style: being the person who creates the world’s best PowerPoints. Being the girl who can identify any weed or pest, just from a picture. Being the guy who can take an underperforming department and turn it into a well-oiled machine. Being “that” person is never going out of style, and here’s why.
The Information Era
Modern technology (mainly the internet) can provide any bit of knowledge we want right at our fingertips. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to learn enough Spanish for our trip to Mexico, or how to tie a couple of fishing knots to impress your father in law, all from our phone. But with all this information at our disposal, we can find ourselves without anything to make us “that” person.
Many people want to take their professional skills a mile wide, but only an inch deep; want to learn everything and impress everyone. In a world where learning a little bit about a lot of things is easy, why not take the other route? Why not learn as much as you possibly can about a couple of things? Be the person at your company who knows everything there is to know about the accounting software you use. Be the person who knows every single customer in a specific trade territory.
Going a mile deep on a couple of topics will separate you from the crowd. It gives other members of your team or company a person to rely on. You become the subject matter expert. And when you are the go-to person on a topic, the undisputed master, you become indispensable. Your knowledge and/or skills are harder to replace, and that can make the difference during lean times.
The Social Media Effect
Social media isn’t going anywhere. It has permeated every aspect of our personal and professional lives and it’s never been easier to communicate who you are and what you do. Although this is a very positive thing, there is a down side: being able to walk the walk isn’t a requirement anymore. 30 years ago, the only way to be labeled a marketing expert was to learn the field, impress clients and gradually work your way up to larger and larger projects until you gained recognition.
Now, it takes no time at all to hop on your favorite social media platforms and rebrand yourself as a marketing expert, regardless of whether you have the experience. “Marketing is my passion and I want people to know that!” Great, just make sure that you can back up that label. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where people look to you for expertise, and you can’t provide it.
Instead, be a breath of fresh air to all the companies out there looking for a marketing expert. Go a mile deep on your topic, and then hit a home run when someone gives you the opportunity to be “that” person.
Make 2019 the year where you find something that makes you “that” person. Your company will recognize your effort, your clients will value your expertise, and your future-self will be very grateful.
By: Tim Callahan