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Five tips for getting hired on a dairy farm: Advice for high school students looking for a job

Annaliese Wegner for Progressive Dairyman Published on 08 September 2017

As a dairy farmer, I have had some experience interviewing potential employees – mostly high school students. Some of these teens have an ag background while others do not, but what many of them seem to have in common is the inability to make a good first impression.

Now I’m not saying every youngster I have interviewed lacks a certain confidence or assertiveness; I have employed some really outstanding youth! However, many just don’t seem to have what it takes when it comes to making a great first impression. It seems to worsen as I get older and they get younger. Maybe that says something about me? Ha!

Well, either way, I thought I would compile a “what not to do list” when it comes to a speaking with a potential employer. Note: These are all based on my experiences.

1. Don’t be shy.

Make eye contact; come at me with a strong handshake (none of this limp wrist business); and let me see that confidence! I love when interviewees are able to speak loud and clear and ask smart questions.

2. Don’t be flaky.

Whether the conversation is in-person or over the phone, be ready before we talk. Have a prepared list of questions; be aware of your schedule; and even if you aren’t the most organized person in the world, at least lead me to believe that you are.

3. Don’t be a Mommy’s boy/girl.

If I ask, “Does Tuesday work for a tour and interview?” and you reply with, “I’m not sure what my schedule is. Let me ask my mom”– we are done. You’re 17 years old; you shouldn’t have to ask your mom if you are busy two days from now.

4. Don’t text.

If you are inquiring about a job, use them textin’ fingers and dial my phone number so we can chat. I’m a millennial myself and don’t mind texting about certain things, but the first communication we have should be verbal.

5. Don’t dress like a dingbat.

Dress the part. If the job you are interviewing for is on a farm, don’t show up wearing a skirt and flip-flops. Put on some boots and jeans and be prepared to walk through some mud.

I’m sure most of you have raised or know some awesome, well-spoken kids, but with so many kids being glued to their phones these days, it might be worth it to remind them that first impressions are everything. Show the kids in your life this list and let's put a little bit of “old” back in the “new-school.”  end mark

Annaliese Wegner
  • Annaliese Wegner

  • Dairy Producer
  • Ettrick, Wisconsin
  • Email Annaliese Wegner

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