How to write a professional CV profile?

How to write a CV profile?

Candidate Resources | CV tips

How to write a professional CV profile for the sustainable agriculture industry?

Here we’re looking at the CV profile, which gives the first clear impression of your capabilities…

There are many, many good guides on CV writing, which are great on the general points of what to include, formatting, structure, etc. But they aren’t geared towards professionals in speciality sectors of agriculture.

This series of articles is designed to supplement this advice by focusing specifically on how to position yourself in the best possible way for the next big step in your agricultural career.

What’s the purpose of the CV profile?

The CV profile plays an important part in introducing and positioning your experience to get you the job YOU WANT. It provides context to the rest of your CV. It’s the perfect self-marketing opportunity.

It’s the perfect self-marketing opportunity.

Not too much pressure, right?

How to approach profile writing?

To start writing your profile, first, you need to answer for yourself: What do you want to do next?

  1. If you are open to a variety of progression paths, what are your dealbreakers?
  2. If you are aiming for a specific position, which parts of your experience are the most relevant?

Your profile should be very clear and succinct, describing the summary of your skills. It can seem daunting to take a step back and think about your knowledge in marketable terms. But it is not as difficult as it first appears.

For example, what would you say if someone asked you to describe your cooking skills?

I am great at grilling – it can be any product type. I have mastered frying, boiling, roasting and steaming techniques. My favourite cuisine comes from Thailand, Japan, Mexico and Southern European countries. I use spices such as [..]. I can smoothly manage a dinner party with up to 10 people. 

Now, replace cooking with industry terms, ‘dinner party’ with ‘team’ and you have a profile!

Which information is important and which is not?

In speciality agriculture industries, most positions require highly specific knowledge and skills. Good news – this means short, sweet and honest is the best policy! There is no need to fill the gaps with phrases such as “incredible attention to detail” or bolstering the profile with words like “vivacious”, “sesquipedalian” or “quintessential” in an effort to inject more substance.

Instead, you can focus on what you know, compile a list of your competencies and connect it all together.

focus on what you know, compile a list of your competencies and connect it all together

The major points you should answer with your CV profile:

  1.  How many years or what level of experience do you have?
  2. Which product lines/subject matter are you an expert in?
  3. What is your primary functional expertise? Are you focused on technical, commercial, R&D, marketing or strategic functions? Maybe some or all of them?
  4. If relevant, which tools and techniques are you most familiar with?
  5. Which markets (local, regional, global), related to your field, are you an expert in?
  6. Are you collaborating with teams cross-functionally or managing a team directly or both?
  7. What types of organizations have you worked with in terms of structure – flat, matrix, family-owned, start-ups?

Pull it all together

After you have answered ‘What do I want to do next?’ it’s time to answer the above points with the relevant context.

Let’s do it together! Below are examples, including the exploration of bias that comes with answering in one or another way.

Experience

Depending on the role you want there might be bias towards the age or the experience level needed; by using the right words, you can present your experience by remaining strictly objective and to the point, in correlation with the seniority of the job:

  1. Over 20 years; or
  2. Senior Leader; or
  3. Experienced Commercial/Technical/etc. Manager
Products/Subject Matter

This is important to showcase if you want to aim for a specific career path or company. 

  • Looking to work in a specific segment? A herbicide expert, with experience with Trees & Vines or Poultry Nutritionist, with knowledge in enzymes;
  • Do you want to go more general and be less focused on specific products? Experienced in Crop Protection & Genetics sectors in South Europe or Monogastric nutritionist with experience in gut health.
Functional expertise

No matter which sector of agriculture we are talking about, we all have something in common. Namely, employers who are focused on hiring “technical for technical” or “technical with already magically established commercial skills” or “technical, but expert in MarCom” and so on. Never fear! Your profile is where we manage the bias.

  1. Technical experts, who want to be considered for commercial roles: don’t shy away from your technical background! Just remember, that such a simple responsibility as “technical support” requires for you to know the clients, their operation, your product offering and includes collaboration across departments. Break down what you do and showcase what you are capable of! A leader with a technical background in animal nutrition, experience in marketing, client management and support, strategic portfolio planning and product launches [..]
  2. Commercial experts, who want to be considered for positions, where supervision or involvement in technical management is required: you have not been living in a vacuum! How many times have you used your commercial acumen to direct R&D or even collaborate with technical departments on the client side? Commercial Manager with extensive experience in collaborating with R&D and technical departments, including key opinion leaders in the industry [..]
Tools/Techniques

To work in agriculture means using specific systems or research methods. If they are staples of the industry and/or set you apart, mention them!

Markets

Many positions will ask for knowledge of the specific market(s) or product(s). Instead of taking the risk and hoping your product and regional knowledge will be read later in the CV, mention it here. 

  1. For those, who have a large market experience: Knowledge of Precision systems and farming models in APAC, LATAM and Russia.
  2. For those, who have mostly focused locally – please remember that you are in touch with your colleagues and industry peers: Knowledge of aquaculture in Zambia, with collaborative experience in South Africa. 
Teams

Depending on the organization and role you are aiming for, there are several options: you might need to work without a team; with many cross-functional collaborators/stakeholders; with indirect reports; or you will need to manage a team.

  1. You might enjoy managing people, but have a feeling you can make a great difference with your strategic skills? Coordinated large projects and responsible for strategic people management across R&D, Purchasing and Commercial departments.  
  2. The opposite situation – you wish to gain team management. Cross-functional leadership experience, collaborating and directing up to 60 people internationally. 
  3. You are a team leader and want to remain a team leader? Successful management experience of teams (ranging from 2-10 direct reports).
Structure

The type of company/structure experience you have can greatly help you in securing a position.

  1. You aim to work in a large matrix, with current experience in start-ups or flat structures. Employers are concerned that you won’t like the complexity and politics that come with this type of environment. However, don’t forget that structure is only one side of the coin – what people skills have you gained? Successful in collaborating across departments and influencing senior stakeholders on all levels. I am ready to join a larger organization, where I can use these skills to a larger impact.
  2.  After working in complex organizations, you wish to join a more agile company or explore a start-up. Career spent in varied organizational structures, where I have developed skills to collaborate cross-functionally with large and small teams. I am ready to join a more agile organization. 

The finished CV profile

Imagine someone named Karlsson*, working in the bakery business. They have been working in multi-faceted roles and wish to continue in a strategic direction. But, Karlsson wants even more complexity! In addition, while Cake is Karlsson’s jam, a bigger portfolio would be nice.

Karlsson

A Senior Troublemaker, with over 10 years spent in Bakery and Carbohydrate Ingredients. Successful in collaborating across departments and influencing senior stakeholders on all levels. Experience in technical-commercial functions, such as client and key account management, product support and R&D. Majority of knowledge gained in European markets, with some project exposure to Brazil, USA and Russia. Ready to join a larger organization, where these skills can be used to a notable impact.

*The example uses the name of my favourite childhood book character and is completely made-up.

Have any questions? Have a new topic suggestion? Contact me or drop an email with your notes!

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