Looking for a Fruit Picking Job? Take some time to prepare your resume and understand how farmers work and think
By Rodney Prestia – Agribusiness Labor Solutions
I felt compelled to sit down and write a blog, after receiving well over 230 resumes for various fruit picking jobs that our company has on offer at present.
After spending the weekend and most of today going through the hundred odd emails I found myself, still struggling to find the right candidates, mostly due to the fact that farmers are often looking for people for the long term not people just looking to pass through so I though id write some tips to help all of you get the job that your looking for.
1.Add as much detail as possible
As a recruiter for farmers I’m looking for as much information as possible form you to enable me to make an effective decision., I want to know your hobbies, your likes and dislikes your personality, what you hope to achieve from working in a regional area. One of the reasons I am looking at this is because in most of our employment we supply share housing and its fundamental that we can house all people that have the same personalities so that they can all live in harmony, we want the experience to be an enjoyable one, and if we can get a group that all live together and can have similar interests and can enjoy their downtime, it makes for a happy living environment and in turn a more productive working environment.
2.Don’t say I just need to do my 88 days!
I was amazed how many people emailed me and said I need a job so I can do my 88 days to get my second year visa. Whilst we know that is the reason most backpackers seek regional work, stating that that is your pure motivation, does not sit well with a lot of farmers, the reasons for this are as follows.
( i) some seasons go for 6 – 8 months and farmers want people to stay for the season
(ii) farmers don’t want to have to retrain people constantly
(iii) farmers want you to come to work because you really want to work not just because you need to complete 88 days employment
( iv) by stating this your basically saying your heading out to a regional area under sufferance and you cant wait to get the hell out of there !
3.Understand Farmers like to Engage in Piecework and understand the obligations
We would all love to be paid an hourly rate but unfortunately hourly rate is often not productive in a farmers eyes, a lot of them want to engage in piecework. Now I understand and have heard of a thousand stories from backpackers that have said they were only getting $ 6 an hour on piecework, well I can honestly say that is illegal, the law of piecework is actually quite simple, In order to engage in a piecework contract, a farmer needs to be able to demonstrate that the worker has the capacity to earn in excess of 15% of the standard hourly award wage. So in effect, the farmer has to demonstrate that, ill give you an example.
A farmer says he is going to pay you $ 10 a bin to pick Apples, he says that most people are packing 3 bins an hour so you make $ 30 an hour, sounds great doesn’t it?
In this instance my advice is to ask the farmer for a contact number of a two workers that are currently working on the farm and ask them if the target is achievable, if they come back and say that you can only pack 1 1Ž2 bins an hour then at $ 10 a bin you will be receiving only $ 15.00 and that is under the award and in most cases illegal.
Piecework can be a great way to make money providing that the targets are achievable, I know of workers working on piecework agreements across Australia that are earning $ 45- $ 50 an hour, but they are working their butt off and getting rewarded for it, just make sure the piece work targets are achievable.
With regards to piecework, don’t just discount it , and say I only want Hourly, you will find it hard to get a job if that’s your attitude. Try to understand what the piecework is and the targets before dismissing it all together, like I said you can make really good money and farmers are only to happy to pay extra if you are a very productive worker.
4. Try to find out if the kind of work available will be suitable to you and think before you commit
Whenever talking to people that are looking for farm work the one thing I never do is sugar coat it, I try to give them a detailed description of what the work entails. Just recently we have been hiring for some very hard a tiresome work, which involves chipping out in a field, its tough the weather is awful and you are constantly bending over and putting strain on your back, I was honest and upfront with all workers that it wasn’t easy, still all accepted the job as a challenge and the workers seemed to enjoy it. We did have two workers whom found it too hard and left after the first day, now they spent money getting to the farm on planes and transport and also bought sheets and food for the week, so it was a costly lesion for them, So the point im making is try to understand the work, there is easy work and hard work, there is picking out in the field and hter is packing inside the sheds, try to work out what you would like to do and don’t be afraid to ask questions, We would rather you ask the questions and then decide not to come than come cause you have not asked the questions and then leave after a day or two .
5.Show how keen you are !!!
What farmers really want to do is employ people that are keen and eager, don’t be afraid to finish your resume by really enforcing this. I love it when people email me and tell me how much they want the job, when they give me their reasons for wanting it and when they have told me where they have worked and why they believe they would be a suitable candidate. It shows me that they have taken the time to actually read the advertisement not just sent their email hoping for the best.
Finally, A Few Tips
So there are a few tips for all of you I hope you can get something out of them and really think before you send off those resumes, its tough out there at the moment, and if you really want the job, you have to do the following
-Pitch yourself as the right candidate
-Understand what the Job entails
-Understand how the pay scale works
-Be keen to work for the right reasons not just to get your 88 days
Agribusiness Labour Solutions