Top 10 Tips for landing your dream graduate agribusiness job.

Top 10 Tips for landing your dream graduate agribusiness job.

Perrin Ag is tapping into more than a decade of experience employing agribusiness graduates to offer university students tips for landing their first dream role as 2025 intakes open.

Perrin Ag knows a thing or two about recruiting graduates. For nearly 10 years, the firm has taken on university graduates from across the country and officially launched its Empower Graduate Advisor programme in 2020. The 2025 intake is now open to Waikato, Lincoln and Massey university students.

The team has been impressed by the emerging talent, but solid academic performance and impressive community involvement won’t get you past the first gate if you don’t nail your application. The Perrin Ag team has seen its fair share of trainwrecks and best practice. The firm’s Business Manager Mike Matthews explains.

“We have received more than one cover letter that was obviously generic because it still included the names of our competitors!” he says. “We have seen CVs that were generated by ChatGPT and still included the ‘populate your experience here’ text prompts.

“Formatting mistakes and spelling errors are still commonplace. I would encourage applicants to make the most of support tools, such as Grammarly. We have seen evidence of people not reading application instructions. For example, we ask for an academic transcript and get a note with the application saying their transcripts are available on request.

“On the upside, we’ve been impressed over the years with people who have really done their homework on Perrin Ag. Those who have considered their 3–5-year plan and proactively shared examples of their work have also captured our attention. This is the type of effort and level of professionalism that will impress employers enough to offer you an interview.”

So, what is Mike’s top tip?

“Your CV and cover letter are your golden tickets, so it’s worth putting in the effort to make them shine,” he says. “Remember, one size doesn’t fit all, show your consideration by customising your application to each specific role. Trust us, it makes all the difference.”

With applications for Perrin Ag’s 2025 Empower graduate advisor intake open, the Perrin Ag team has put together its top ten tips for graduates beginning their job search in agribusiness.

Our top 10 tips for agri-business grads

  1. Have a concise CV – Employers have busy schedules, so make it easy for them to see your brilliance. Tailor the content for each of your applications by emphasising your most relevant skills. Don’t forget to list your community involvement. Can you inject some creativity and colour into your content and layout?

  2. Use numbers to quantify experience. For example, “I managed a team of 10 volunteers.”

  3. Personalise your cover letter. Tailor your cover letter to the role you are applying for. Avoid slang or informal language and prioritise grammar, punctuation, and spelling. While AI tools can assist, ensure your letter reflects your authentic voice. Consider standing out with video cover letters. Take an opportunity to set yourself apart with personalised, attention to detail and thoughtful preparation.

  4. Have a polished social media presence – Consider adjusting privacy settings on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to control who can view your content. Maintaining a clean and professional online presence is crucial in today’s job market.

  5. Research the company – Learn as much as you can about your prospective employer’s key people, products or services, competitors, and industry trends.

  6. Display your passion for agriculture and the impact it has on communities, the economy, and the environment. This shows the interviewer that you’re passionate about the role, and more likely to be engaged and motivated if you are hired.

  7. Be prepared to articulate your view on key industry issues. Take the time to research and identify key industry challenges. In ag, these may be things like environmental issues, GHG or animal welfare. Show you have a viewpoint, and an opinion on ways forward.

  8. Convey confidence – remember the power of a smile, maintaining eye contact and mindful body language. Dressing professionally is key – first impressions count for a lot.

  9. Have at least one good question prepared for your interview. This shows your genuine interest in the role and is a great opportunity to gather important information about the company. Remember you’re also interviewing them as a fit for you.

  10. Identify your career goals. Before the interview think about what you’d like to achieve in your career, both in the short and long term. This will help you talk about your goals more confidently during the interview and allow the business to consider how they might best support you.


Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations. If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”

Michael Booth

Senior Consultant

B.Com Af (FM)

Mike brings a wealth of agri-tech and dairy systems expertise to Perrin Ag. After graduating with a Bachelor of AgriCommerce from Massey, he started his career with DairyNZ as a consulting officer where he ran discussion groups and managed farm supervision.

He left DairyNZ to travel the world but within a few months Covid hit, the borders closed, and Mike and his wife Nikita returned home. Back in New Zealand, he took up a role managing DairyNZ’s monitor farms on the Hauraki Plains before joining Halter.

After finishing his OE, he returned home to live in Papamoa and joined the Perrin Ag team in February 2024.

“I’m not someone who likes to sit still and I like to be continually learning. I saw an opportunity with Perrin Ag. As a business their ethos is about continuous improvement and learning. There are always new and better ways of doing things and we need to be at the forefront of that for our clients.”

Abbey Dowd

Consultant

B.Ag.Sc (Hons), MNZIPIM

Abbey joined Perrin Ag in February 2023 as part of the firm’s graduate recruitment programme, Empower.

Abbey grew up surrounded by dairy farms in a close-knit community in South Waikato. She saw first-hand how local farmers supported her community, which is what inspired her to study at Lincoln University.

Growing up in a rural community Abbey has always been impressed by how much local farmers contribute to the community. She wanted to help give back to the industry and play a part in helping our primary sector continue to produce quality food in a sustainable way.

In 2022, Abbey spent the summer as an intern on one of New Zealand’s first commercial deer milking operations. Her Honours project was researching deer milk alongside other more traditional milking operations and assessing the deer milking industry’s future production possibilities.

“Growing up I didn’t live on a farm, but I always knew I wanted to work in the farming sector. I wanted a role where there was a balance between working on and off farm and where I could support farmers to get the best out of their businesses.”

Sam Gray

Consultant

Sam grew up on a dairy farm in the Far North. After graduating from the University of Otago in 2005 with an Honours degree in molecular biotechnology, he spent several years working in medical research in New Zealand and Scotland. Upon returning to New Zealand in 2012, he spent four seasons dairy farming in Northland before purchasing a 56 ha block in Taupо̄, where he was first exposed to farming under a nitrogen cap. Sam joined Perrin Ag in 2023 and brings his strong analytical skills that are grounded by a pragmatic approach to problem solving. Outside of farming and consultancy, you’ll likely find him fly fishing, hunting or snowboarding.

“A lot of farmers feel overwhelmed in the face of a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. I strive to help farmers understand what these environmental regulations mean for their business, and offer practical solutions that allow them to keep doing what they do best, whilst remaining compliant”.

Danni Armstrong

Finance administrator

Danni grew up on a life style block in Atiamuri and spent five seasons as a relief milker in the area. During this time, her full time roles were in various fields including the rental car, health care and marine industries. Danni has had a focus on administrative and accounting duties, but is also proficient in looking after customers especially well, social media and website operation, running a rental car fleet and the associated tasks like training, rosters, H&S and organising repairs! Danni joined Perrin Ag in May 2021, to be part of a business in an industry she is passionate about.

During her spare time Danni can be found reading a book with her cats or out enjoying the walks in Rotorua’s Redwoods.

“What motivates me each day is knowing that I will be challenged with a range of problem solving tasks. I love to see all the figures adding up and knowing that my role makes a difference to the team.”

Duncan Walker

Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc, MNZIPIM (Reg)

Coming from a drystock and dairy farming background, Duncan has always been passionate about growing primary sector businesses. Whether it’s pastoral farming, forestry, horticulture or investments outside the farm gate, sustainably optimising business performance is Duncan’s passion. After graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agribusiness, Duncan’s first opportunity to optimise a farm business was by undertaking a dairy conversion. Duncan project managed the conversion and continued to run the dairy farm for a further three years.

Since joining Perrin Ag in 2011 Duncan works with a wide range of clients including those ‘outside the farm gate’. With his strong background in investment analysis, business strategy and project management, Duncan is increasingly working with clients to analyse and integrate horticulture and forestry investments into their farm businesses.

“I enjoy helping clients navigate through the complexities of today’s operational, financial and environmental challenges. Seeing clients achieve their goals is very rewarding”

Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations.  If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”