Advice from a food industry recruiter

Dear Food Grad,

This is it. The moment you’ve craved. You’ve worked so long to achieve it. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After years of dreaming, of studying, of burning yourself. You are in the home stretch. Graduation. A day you’ve been waiting for forever, and ever, and ever.

You can envision yourself enjoying your dream job. But have you imagined the steps you took to get there? Where to look? What to put on a resume? How to act in an interview? What not to do? What to wear? Ahhhhhhhhh!

Rest assured we’ve all been there. It’s my job to walk you through all the steps to achieve your dream of gainful employment, post-graduation.

Let me tell you a story of how I became a Recruiter.

When I graduated school back in 2000, I had a few avenues to pursue. I really liked Human Resources and I also liked I.T. I applied, electronically, to a position for an I.T. Support person. One of the main duties was to organize large electronic files and share them within the network of the company. I was really excited to apply. I carefully crafted my resume, a cover letter, and an email introduction outlining why I was perfect for the role: my biggest strength was my Attention to Detail. I proof-read, I had my friends’ proof-read, I took a deep breath, and I hit Send.

Horror dawned on me. I forgot to attach my resume and cover letter. All my hard work, and I ultimately failed on the Attention to Detail for actually applying to the job. I was crushed and I beat myself up for days. I did end up sending a second email, complete with the resume and cover letter attached, but I never received a single phone call for the role.

The next week I saw a posting for a Recruiter. I thought to myself that sounds like a fun job and wrote my email to highlight my skills as an interviewer for my high school newspaper a few years back. I remembered to attach my resume and cover letter (lesson learned!) and waited on pins and needles to see if I’d get a call back. I did. And ultimately, after a phone screen, a face to face and then a panel interview, I got the job.

Moral of the Story:

  1. If at first you don’t succeed, try again
  2. Learn from your mistakes
  3. Think from the company’s point of view. (Ask yourself what skills you have that you bring to the table for a future employer, and make that stand out on your intro email/cover letter/resume)

Sixteen years later, I’m still loving my career and I have made it my mission to be a person for job seekers such as you.

Looking for a job is like going to an all-you-can eat buffet on “The Hunger Games” the choices are endless but you are competing against others that want to survive just as much as you do. And if they are more resourceful, you won’t survive (Get the Job). The more jobs you find to apply for, the better your chances are of landing something (and surviving) be resourceful!

How to even begin to find a job? There are 3 main ways on how to find open jobs. Online, through your network, and cold calling companies you want to work for.


Your Network

  • Everyone knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone. Let them all know you are looking for work!
  • Ask your teachers, ask your career counsellors, ask your past employers, ask your neighbours if they know of any job openings (in your field)

Cold Call Companies

  • Do you have a burning desire to work for a particular company? Call them up!
  • Call the main line of the company, be professional and courteous and ask to speak to whomever is in charge of hiring for XYZ Department. If you aren’t sure which XYZ Department you are suited for, ask to speak to whoever is in charge of hiring overall.

I got my first Recruiting job by applying to an advertisement in the newspaper (i.e.: before Internet Job Boards were even a thing!) After a few years at that job, I moved to a different city. I applied to a Marketing job that I found in the newspaper. I got an interview for the job but wasn’t qualified enough for what they needed. However, the person that interviewed me just happened to know a business owner that was looking for someone with my qualifications. She called him up, he interviewed me a few days later, and I landed that Recruiting job. The job was only going to be for 6 weeks but I took a chance and accepted it. Eight (8) years later I was still with them and ended up being the Division Manager for that company. My network (that I didn’t even know existed!) paid off for me big time.

Moral of the Story?

  1. Be resourceful (looking for a job is a full time job in itself). Give yourself many options.
  2. Take every single opportunity to interview for a position – it’s part of networking. Take chances (apply for the jobs that you think you have a shot at, even if you don’t meet every single qualification. If you do get an opportunity to interview, even if it’s not exactly what you are looking for, you just never know where it will take you)

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