How to Start Your New Career in The Meat and Poultry Industry

If you're looking to start your career, Ontario's food and beverage processing industry has no shortage of opportunities, especially in its meat and poultry sector.

If you’re looking to start your career, Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry has no shortage of opportunities, especially in its meat and poultry sector.

In fact, Meat & Poultry Ontario is partnering with CareersNOW! for its upcoming virtual job fair on November 9, 2021. Whether you’re looking for more entry-level, process-related positions or are looking for your next big career move, Ontario’s meat & poultry processors are looking for people just like you.

One of the companies participating in the virtual job fair is Conestoga Meats. The company is looking to fill positions in quality control, engineering, human resources, sales and a variety of positions in production.

“I think that the meat and poultry sector is dynamic, interesting, and an exciting place to be. We know that economically, it is an investment sector and one that can be grown further in Canada,” says Pauline Zwiers, Vice President of Human Resources at Conestoga Meats.

“This is why we are focusing on growing, for example, in our export markets and exploring where we can go with our products. The government also believes we’re a growing sector and we’re prepared for growth. We just need great people to join us and help.”

It’s not just the industry that’s poised for growth; the people working within it are too.

“I think career growth in this industry is absolutely available. And partly, because it’s not one that people necessarily think of,” says Zwiers. ” For good people, I think the opportunities are endless for them.”

We recently spoke with Zwiers about joining the meat and poultry sector, what companies look for in new hires, and tips for how job seekers can prepare for interviews and job fairs.

The skills employers are looking for in the meat and poultry industry

Depending on the position, employers may look for some sort of post-secondary education. For instance, for a human resources job, they’re going to look for someone who has the education and training in human resources. But for most production-related positions, post-secondary education isn’t a requirement (though previous experience in food processing is considered a bonus!).

In fact, Zwiers says there are other important “soft skills” employers like Conestoga are looking for in potential employees. These skills are developed and are not guaranteed just because someone has a degree or college diploma, such as the ability to work and collaborate with others.

“We’re looking for genuine, down-to-earth, family-oriented individuals who like a collaborative environment, ” she says.

They also look for adaptability, the ability to work in a fast-paced environment and strong communication skills.

“One thing I can say for sure about the meat and poultry sector is it is ever-changing and it’s fast-moving. We need individuals that are adaptable and used to a fast-paced environment. That would be one of the key things we look for,” says Zwiers.

“The other one is being collaborative because things are moving fast and that means you have to communicate, communicate, communicate, to make sure that everybody knows what the different pieces are doing.”

How to prepare for a job interview to start your career in the meat and poultry industry

When it comes to preparing for a job interview, especially a job fair, Zwiers recommends job seekers do their research beforehand.

“Do research on the industry and the company. If they have one company specifically in mind that they are going to interview at, having that initiative is one of the key things that we look at,” she says,

It’s also important to know what types of jobs you’re looking for and apply to those that play to your strengths.

“Sometimes I find people are  ‘Oh, I’ll look at that job, and that job, and that job,'” says Zwiers. ” Know yourself and what your strengths are.  What motivates you? Where would you thrive? That’s the match your employer is looking for?”

Though job seekers should prepare to answer questions, Zwiers also recommends they come with some of their own too.

“I think that having some questions prepared for the interviewers is important because, again, that shows your engagement and, you know, some forethought into the interview process,” she says.

Ready to start your career in the meat and poultry sector?

Sign up for a FREE CareersNOW! Jobseeker account!

As a CareersNOW! Jobseeker, you’ll have access to free Job Ready skills trainingonline job fairsmentorship sessions, and other resources to learn more about the exciting opportunities in Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector.

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