For most young farmers, preparing a farm resume is a tricky proposition.
Nancy Erickson, manager of the McHatton farm management firm, says there are a number of details that can really capture a potential landlord or farm manager's attention. Proximity to the farm for rent and reputation still get top billing in terms of importance. However, more and more land is making its way to generations that are far removed from the farm.
"There's a lot of land that is being passed down to younger generations that really prioritize sustainability," Nancy explains.
Additionally, providing a sense of community is becoming more important to distant landlords. Be sure to include community involvement activities on the resume. Nancy says it's a great idea to provide avenues for the landowner to reconnect with the rural community.
Altona, Ill., farmer David Erickson, Nancy's husband, says providing a sense of community gets the landowner to think of the land in a whole different manner.
"You don't want them to think of land ownership as an investment account," Erickson says. "You want the proceeds to stay in the rural community. If the landowner no longer sees it as real property, it becomes a 'check's in the mail' sort of arrangement."
There's an art to appearing big enough, but not too big. Many young farmers have the added security of joining in with a family member's operation. Nancy says it could be a 3,000 acre operation that is split between several people.
"One person could look at it as you have enough to farm," Nancy explains. "On the other hand, you have a safety net around you."
Regardless of what the potential landlord thinks, Nancy recommends detailing the farm business' management blueprint. The key is demonstrating an ability to adequately farm the parcel of land, yet making it clear that there is plenty of room for growth.
"You need to give them a feel for how you fit into the operation," David notes. "Tell them if you've become the tech expert or the seed guy."
Lastly, the Ericksons advise young farmers to remain positive and professional in all business dealings. Any negative feelings toward losing out in a bidding contest should be kept within the family, David says.
"It's so important to remain positive," he adds. "Don't ever say something negative about someone else or a different type of farmer."
While most farmers are humble, many make up for it in the opinion area, David adds. Opinionated farmers can turn off potential landlords by appearing narrow-minded or unwilling to think outside the box.
Finally, remember that the highest bid doesn't always win out. "In cash rent scenarios, you know your bid," he explains. "If you don't win, you always assume you got outbid."
7 farm resume basics
- Name and contact information
- Educational background
- Work experience - Include on and off farm employment. If it's too long, winnow it down.
- Farm blueprint - Explain where and how you fit into the bigger picture.
- Personal details - Discuss your personal family. Including a family photo is a good idea.
- Philosophy of farming - This is similar to a mission statement. Why do you farm?
- References - Potential candidates include landlords, elevator operator, input suppliers and banker.