Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry feeds our province and the world, and it offers a variety of rewarding career opportunities. But on the other hand, because there are so many opportunities it can become overwhelming to know where to even start.
This is a good thing though! The industry houses people from every walk of life showing that there is a place for everyone. Some professionals start by going to college then enter the industry as a quality control technician then work their way up to quality assurance manager. Others start on the production floor, become a shift manager and then eventually become a production manager for the facility. There is no direct road map to where you start or where you end up in the food and beverage industry. It’s your career journey and you need to find what works for you.
If you’ve stumbled upon this article, it means that you already know or are thinking about a career in the food and beverage processing industry. Here are some helpful tips to get your in the foot through the door.
Explore the industry first
Before you even start applying for jobs you should explore the different food sectors and the types of products food companies produce.
These sectors include bakery, meat, beverage, dairy, and vegetables. Find out if there are factories in your region and see what the company produces at that facility. Luna Guiot, a brewing quality assurance analyst with Labatt Breweries of Canada offered a great piece of advice to students thinking about going into food manufacturing.
“Think about a product you like to eat or drink. Then research the company and see what positions they have. First-year students who don’t really know what to do with their degrees will discover that the food industry has a lot of options. By looking at how a factory operates you can see that the industry is vast. There is room for everyone.”
So, pick a product that you like and do a quick web search. Some companies even have videos that show how a product is made. You can even use this research as preparation if you get an interview with the company.
If you want to know more specifically about the jobs available in the food and beverage industry then check out the e-book Careers In the Food and Beverage Industry by Veronica Hislop. Each career is broken down into small facts which make it more approachable so you can find out if there is a job out there that suits you.
Sign up for CareersNow!
As you are researching the food and beverage industry make sure to sign up for a FREE CareersNow! account. It’s an easy way to get your foot in the door of the food industry. The program is for students and new grads just starting their careers and for those looking to change roles.
As a member, you’ll have access to essential skills training, job fairs, mentorship opportunities and access to the CareersNOW! job board.
What are you waiting for?
Try to find an entry-level position
It is always a good idea that when you enter an industry you work an entry-level job. Jobs like these are great opportunities to learn the ins and outs of a company from the ground level. It will give you a good perspective to know if this company is right for you and it will build up your skills.
Across the province, there are many places looking for people in these types of roles so you have the flexibility to find a profession that works for your schedule. Getting an entry-level position as the name suggests is just a starting point. If you really enjoy it then it can set you up for a long-time career in the food industry full of growth.
Be vocal about your job search
If you are looking for a job in the food industry, be sure that you are vocal about it and let people know. In the digital space ensure that your social media presence is up to date. Sign up for LinkedIn as it is a great networking platform. Surprisingly a lot of food professionals have accounts on there and are quite active on it. So it is a good place to reach out to them and ask them questions.
Follow the big accounts like the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology, FoodGrads and Food and Beverage Ontario for up-to-date information about the industry and if new jobs are posted.
Don’t just limit your job search to online. Make sure to talk to those around you as well and let them know you are looking for a job. Sometimes it isn’t the people you directly know who will help you find a job but the people they know.
Seek Out Additional Certifications to Build Your Knowledge Base
There are many different certifications that can be obtained as a food industry professional depending on your specialty. If you are considering a career in food safety, consider certifications like HACCP, SQF and BRC. Some companies may pay for this training if they are required for your job, but it’s always a bonus if you already have it. There are also non-food safety skills that you can build up such as those provided by the Food Processing Skills Canada. On the production side, they offer certifications for meat cutters, fish/seafood processors and cheesemakers. You can build up both soft and hard skills that the industry is looking for.
CareersNOW! also offers 14 free Job-ready skills courses to members too!
Attend a job fair
There are so many reasons why someone should attend a career fair (even a virtual one). Career fairs allow you to chat with many potential employers and provide networking opportunities. Hiring professionals typically have a booth and will talk to you about where they work and the careers available. Not only that but attending a career fair will help to improve your communication and interview skills. Doing so can improve your confidence for when you get that interview!
CareersNow is offering many online careers fairs over the coming months so be sure to check those out too!
Learn another language
When looking at any food packaging in Canada, you will notice that it has both an English and French section to it. Canada is a bilingual country and because of this, there are regulations that food manufacturers must follow. So while you are looking for a job consider in your spare time learning a second language such as French. It could set you up for future opportunities should you go into regulatory affairs, or marketing or consider a career in another province such as Quebec. Some jobs, such as those in regulatory, require you to know both languages. So now might be the time to brush up on those language skills!
Apply to job boards and stay positive
Most importantly if you are looking for a job in the food industry – apply for jobs! Although it can be discouraging, you need to keep applying. If you are a member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology make sure you hit up their job boards to see if there are any postings.
Besides the job listings on CareersNOW!, additional sites that you can check out are Careers In Food, FoodGrads and the Canadian Job Bank. Lastly, do not forget to look at the websites of companies that interest you, as they typically have a “Careers” section. Remember the food industry is vast so there are many opportunities for employment. Stay positive and keep trying eventually you are going to find a place that says yes you are well on your way to a lifelong career.