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How to start your 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.

In fact, Meat & Poultry Ontario is partnering with CareersNOW! for its upcoming virtual job fair on November 9.  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.

“Which 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 itself that’s poised for growth, the people that work 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.

Other qualities they look for are adaptability, the ability to work in a fast-paced environment and strong communications 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.

CareersNOW! Virtual Job Fair with Meat & Poultry Ontario

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

Careers’sNOW’s virtual job fair with Meat and Poultry Ontario takes place on November 9.

You can find more information and sign up here.

CareersNOW!’s Free Job-Ready Skills Training

Want to stand out in your job interview? You should take CareersNOW’s Job-Ready Skills Training.

Just by signing up for a free account as a CareersNOW! Jobseeker, you’ll have access to over 14 skill training courses for the food and processing industry. That’s over 30 hours of free training!

Upon completion of all 14 courses, you’ll receive a graduation package that includes an official transcript and program completion certificate, which shows employers that you successfully completed the program. Sign up now.

Get ready for your future in food!

Over the next several months, Food and Beverage Ontario will be providing free career mentorship and virtual career fairs through our partners, FoodGrads and Food Processing Skills Canada. Tell us you’re interested by filling in the form.

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