When I say the equine industry is TOTALLY different from any other industry out there, I mean it. In this industry, there’s a whole slew of different skills required, experience preferred, and education necessary for professional success than in most other fields. How do you break through the noise and millions of resumes from girls who literally just want a job petting ponies all day and convince the HR person that you’re even worth an interview?
I’m about to show you how.
There are several things you need to look at, including how your sentences are worded, how the contents are laid out, which elements you include, and a lot more.
Before we get into discussing those, though, I have a suggestion: Print out a physical copy of each job ad you plan to apply to and highlight pertinent information in it. Start with specific things they require that you know you can fill. Also highlight certain phrases that you may be able to recycle in your cover letter or resume. These phrases will not only catch the eye of the HR manager, but prove that you read the ad in depth and understand the specific job requirements.
Section 1: Elements
Skills, experience, and past work history are all givens, but what about that obnoxious objective section?
Ditch it. Opt instead for a Professional Summary. This is much sleeker than an objective section AND it saves you from having to say something redundant like “ My objective is to obtain a job working at your farm as a (insert position here) because (blah blah blah insert impressive filler words that’ll really only make the reader’s eyes gloss over here).”
What should your professional summary include? Let’s take a look at an example.
Equine business management major with outstanding leadership and communication skills.
Proven to be disciplined, organized, and efficient with the ability to learn quickly.
This is an actual professional summary I’ve used in the past. It’s succinct and highlights everything the hiring manager would be most interested in.
The basic outline I used was this:
(Requirement listed in the ad) with (generic skills that would benefit the company but that weren’t mentioned in the ad). Proven to be (things I actually can do that are mentioned in the ad).
If you have any formal education, whether entirely relative to the job or not, I suggest starting with that, then following with how many years of experience you have in your field. If not, go straight for “Industry professional with X years experience.”
If you haven’t got any experience to speak of, try a setup like this:
Recent graduate of North Central Texas College equine business management program with in-depth knowledge in barn management and operations.
I then chose to follow up with generic skills rather than anything specifically mentioned in the ad for a couple of reasons: 1) to show the HR rep that I understand that the job I am applying for is multifaceted and the skills listed could come in handy should I decide to pursue advancement (which is always a plus because nobody wants to hire someone that won’t stick around), and 2) to show them that I’m not just quoting their ad back at them in an attempt to look like exactly what they want just so they’ll hire me.
Another thing to remember: As you’re writing your resume, opt for writing shorter sentences that specifically avoid using words like I, me, and my. Those filler words will just take up space on your resume and waste the reader’s time.
For more information on how to write a professional summary, check out this post here on Resume Genius, my personal favorite resource for resume writing.
After the professional summary should be your experience section. This should always be set up with your most recent or current job at the top and one or two relevant jobs to follow. This section here is the bread and butter of an equestrian’s resume. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told a fellow equestrian that I studied equine business management in school and their response completely dismissed my education in favor of what I was capable of.
The sad fact of the equine industry is that, unless you’ve got a very specific degree like veterinary medicine or agriculture law, very few people are going to care about your degree.
At the same time, that’s the beauty of the equine industry. Your skills actually matter.
Your resume needs to make sure they shine.
With each job in your experience section, you need to list the name of the business, your position, city it’s in, how long you were employed in date form, and a few lines describing your duties.
Let’s take a look at an example:
The best thing to do when listing your job duties is to be extremely specific. What one barn considers a stable hand’s duties, another barn might not. What one barn considers a working student’s duties or a groom’s duties, another barn might not. In being specific about your duties, you’re taking away the mystery and confusion around the job title.
Not only that, you’re providing the HR manager with concrete examples of what you’ve done.
Remember when I told you to print out a copy of the ad and highlight certain phrases? This is one place where you can borrow phrases as long as they’re relevant to you. If a job asks the applicant to have “experience handling young and seasoned horses” as well as listing “stall cleaning, paddock maintenance, grooming, and tacking” as job duties, list those on your resume.
The trick here is not getting too wordy. You want to keep your resume as clean and uncluttered as you can. Bullet points lend well to this, but sometimes it can be tricky to keep these from looking like a large lump of text.
Other things to be aware of as you’re filling out this section:
- Use numbers to quantify as much as you can.
- Group similar duties together, such as in the second job example.
- Don’t be afraid to use industry-specific lingo, as that will show that you’re well-versed.
- Only list the most pertinent job duties. The reason I included the last two bullets in the second job example were because the job I applied for specifically mentioned one of the requirements being to represent various barn sponsors.
For more help writing this section, you can also download a PDF packet with a list of example and suggested phrases at the bottom of this post.
Once your professional experience section is done, you can move on to education. Unless you’re young and are either still in high school or have graduated and haven’t attended college yet, I suggest omitting high school all together. High school experience is far too broad a stroke to paint on your resume when your canvas space is so precious already.
You should list the college you attended, city, degree program, and graduation date. (Expected graduation date is okay if you’re still studying.)
After that, stick with your GPA and a couple short but relevant highlights, nothing more. GPA should be formatted as a fraction, such as “GPA 3.7/4.0”, showing your achieved or current GPA on a 4.0 scale.
The highlights you choose to include should once again be determined by the job application if possible. For example, if you qualified for Regionals or got voted vice president of your IHSA team, those would be fantastic.
If not, opt for something universally appealing. Were you a residence assistant? Graduate with honors? Rack up an impressive number of volunteer hours? List it.
For more information writing the Education section, especially if you’re a bit slim on professional experience, check out Resume Genius’s post here.
Last up should be any additional skills you possess that could help sway the HR manager’s decision in hiring you. This is also a good place to pick up on details in the job description that you might not have been able to take advantage of earlier.
Another use for the Additional Skills section includes giving you a place to list any certifications that didn’t have room elsewhere.
These skills should focus either on something specific mentioned in the job description, or on something similar that would benefit the business you’re applying at.
As with the earlier sections, remember to keep your statements short, sweet, and to the point, organized, quantified wherever possible, and relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Section 2: Layout
You know all those cool posts that pop up when you search for resume templates on Pinterest?
Flashy and overly-designed resumes could land your resume in the trash just as quickly as anything else. Too flashy and you risk the design distracting the reader from the actual content. More importantly, one thing I’ve noticed is that many HR managers still prefer a more traditional presentation versus a beautifully designed one all across the board, no matter what industry they’re in. (This might differ for graphic designers, but I’m not one and all the ones I know are freelancers, so I can’t confirm this theory.)
If you want to make yours stand out, make sure it’s clean, well-aligned, not overly designed, and readable. Stick with a white background (or plain white computer paper if you’re sending in a physical one) with the font at 10-12pt in a clean serif or sans serif like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri, and margins at 1” on all sides.
That said, a little pop of color to distinguish yours from others is okay. On my resume, I put my name and my section titles in emerald green, a shade dark enough not to be obnoxious but just colorful enough to stand out.
If you’re still stressing about writing your resume, you’ve got several options:
- Go check out Resume Genius’s bevy of resume writing tips, including their free resume builder app.
- Check out my Pinterest board, Job Search Tips, for a whole slew of posts on writing your resume and then some.
- Download the PDF of resources I’ve put together (available below) that includes a mini workbook you can fill out as you go, a swipe file of example phrases, a shortened list of guidelines, and my own resume to use as a guide.
- Check out my cost-conscious services for job seekers here. You can pick from a resume review or full resume builder consultation.