Everyone has a love/hate relationship with their resume in the beginning. When you first start, it is one big blank white page, which seems overwhelming. But that white blank page will lead you through many years, many jobs, and many experiences. You will work on it for countless hours, updating it as you land new opportunities, but it will always reflect you, your experiences and remind you of everything you have accomplished — all on one page (or maybe two).
Now is the perfect time to adjust or start your resume. Everything from applying to school to getting a summer job to filling out scholarship applications — a resume is needed more than you might think. By being an active member in the National FFA Organization, your resume will be unique compared with most students. Not very many resumes include a dairy barn worker, Leadership Development Events (LDEs), or livestock judging awards.
So here’s how to go about bringing your FFA experience into your resume the right way:
First let’s look at why you need an up-to-date resume. A resume is the tool we use to tell others about ourselves; it shares our skills and experiences. In most cases, we use a resume to get a job or a scholarship. However, it is important to note the resume helps us to get an interview, not necessarily the actual job or the scholarship you are after. Your resume must include the information needed to get through to the next round.
While looking at the blank screen can be overwhelming, FFA has set you up for success. There are many skills you have that you may not realize. For example, many FFA members have developed standout characteristics in communication, decision-making, leadership, interpersonal relations, and community awareness. And don’t forget any hobbies or Service Learning Experience you have developed. Not only do these show leadership skills, but also entrepreneurial skills at a very young age.
Many FFA members early in their careers will find a combination resume helpful so they can describe the importance of their roles and responsibilities. A combination resume — which is a combination of a chronological and functional — is a great way to highlight your skills and actual experiences. If you are applying for a scholarship that is outside of the agriculture industry, be sure to describe the National FFA Organization, as some people may not be familiar with it.
Tips & Tricks
Building a resume can be scary, but it is also exciting as it is the next step in your professional career. Being active in FFA has many advantages, like developing the skills that many employers are looking for.
- Look back on your record books to jog your memory of all your accomplishments. While it may have felt like a long time, no experience is too little to start off with. First, brainstorm all your awards, experiences, and talents. After you have a list, you can rule out any experiences that don’t fit the application.
- Have your FFA advisor set up an “adulting” day. This should include mock interviews, tips before on how to dress accordingly, pointers on correct body language, and how to send a before and after professional email. Be sure your parents and friends look over your resume before the interview. The more practice you have, the more natural and comfortable you will be in a real interview. Be sure to practice virtual interviews as well. In today’s day and age, that is more common than an in-person interview.
- Always, always save as both a PDF and Word document. Keep the Word document so you can make adjustments, but once you have a final resume, save it with your first and last name. Once it is the final version, save it as a PDF to be sent. This will ensure the resume looks the same on your screen and on the employer’s screen — that is not guaranteed with a Word document, like if the employer primarily uses Google Docs, for example.
- Use the application to amplify your resume. Read over the application, find key words and add them to your resume so it matches to the employer’s needs.
- Use technology to your advantage. For current FFA members, technology has been a constant your entire life — don’t be afraid to capitalize on that. Do you have a cool website? Write a blog? Portfolio? Feel free to link that in your resume if it is professional. Even more advanced would be using a QR code to link to work that you have performed. Anything that makes you stand out from the rest should be used.
- Spell out FFA acronyms. For example, CDEs are always Career Development Events, SAEs need to be spelled out to Supervised Agricultural Experience, etc. For those not familiar with the organization, these acronyms will not have the meaning they deserve, even though they are vital to your experience and responsibilities.
When in doubt, check out the FFA Resume Generator on the National FFA Organization website. The FFA Resume Generator is a tool any member (student or alumni) can use through FFA.org to get a jump start on creating a great resume. The resume generator will ask questions about your education, work experience and FFA participation. After you answer all the questions, it will export your resume in a variety of formats for you to use.
Creating a resume is also a great way to visualize where you have been and where you are going. Want to go into a specific career but don’t have the experience yet? This is the perfect time to volunteer or ask around for a part time job that you can include on your resume.