Put Your Values and Skills to Work as You Transition Careers

The world that we live in is constantly changing and it is more evident in the farming industry as more producers are switching farm enterprises or exiting the farming business altogether. The thought of leaving a business or career that one has always known can be uneasy and downright scary, but along with those thoughts, there are many positives that can come along with making a change.

As business owners, farmers wear many hats as they manage their business. They develop all types of skills including basics like mechanical repairs, animal nutrition, crop management, financial management, creative problem solving, etc. Evaluating their best skills and matching them with their own personal core values can be a usual exercise to plot a course for the future. This is true-whether one is entering a new career or just a transition to a different enterprise within their current lifestyle.

There are many different skills that we learn in each job we perform. These are called transferable skills because they are universal skills that can be learned through training, education, work, and hobbies. As a farmer, there are many transferable skills that have been acquired and can be used in other types of work. The fastest way to assess your skills is to ask yourself two questions: What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing?

Every person has a set of core values which are beliefs and ideas that are most important to us. These are essential to personal happiness and satisfaction. Taking values into consideration when making a career change will help one determine if they will be happy with their new job or not.

Below are two separate exercises taken from the WDATCP publication “Farmers Job Hunting Workbook” that can help make a career or life change seem less daunting, and make it easier to determine what the next steps are in your transition. The first is the Transferable Skills Checklist for Farmers to help one determine what skills they would like to use in future jobs. The second is a Values Inventory so these can be considered moving into a future career or life change.

Transferable Skills Checklist for Farmers

Transferable skills are universal skills that can be learned through training, education, work, hobbies, etc. These are the skills employers consider most valuable. Many of the skills you have acquired farming are transferable skills that can be used in other types of employment. You may not even realize how many of these skills you have acquired over time.


Complete the Checklist 

Values Inventory

We all have a core set of values – the beliefs and ideas that are most important to us. Values are essential to personal happiness and satisfaction. Therefore, taking your values into account when you are considering a career change is an important factor in determining whether or not you will be happy with your transition.



Complete the Inventory

There are no rights or wrongs as one thinks about career and life changes. Having a better understanding of our skills and core values can aid in decision making and make life transitions easier. These exercises are meant for guidance and positivity as changes constantly keep occurring in the world in which we live.


Author: Ashley Olson, Agriculture Educator, University of Wisconsin – Madison Division of Extension, Vernon County Ashley.Olson@wisc.edu