Kristi Hamilton – ConAgra Foods Director Talent Acquisition ( 

What are the best resources locally and online for our local workforce to advance their careers?

Two of the best resources that can help you to advance your career are a strong leader/coach and a mentor. There are the traditional resources that one can leverage like achieving an advanced degree and gaining professional certifications. Without the help and guidance from someone who understands the landscape of your organization, you may find it hard to grow professionally. I believe firmly, were it not for my ConAgra Foods coaches and mentors and their buy-in, support and honest feedback, I wouldn’t have taken the risks I did to get where I’m at today.

What is the future of work in this area? 

The unemployment rate in Nebraska has historically been lower than the national average, and there is a lot of opportunity in the area.

Where are the jobs and how do we get ready for them?

Jobs are ever-changing and evolving. I recently heard that the skills you are taught in college will be irrelevant by the time you join the workforce. It will be important for companies to be open to attracting and hiring people based on their potential and training the necessary technical skills. 

What are the biggest challenges holding the workforce back from career advancement? 

Self-awareness is a big challenge for a lot of individuals. It’s important that you are honest with yourself and have an understanding of what your development opportunities look like, good and bad. Identify resources that can help you close any gaps you may have in your development and stay committed to soliciting and addressing feedback. 

What do you wish job-seekers knew better as they aim to advance their careers?

I’d go back to self-awareness. If you have a career in mind, then you need to understand the skills that it will take to get you there and determine which areas you personally need to continue to develop. Sometimes you are better off considering a lateral move—or even a step backward—to gain the experiences and skills necessary to advance your career. I am also a firm believer that not all job titles are created equal. Try to explore the opportunities by talking with the hiring manager or recruiter before writing off a job because the title didn’t fit what you were expecting. 

What do you wish employers knew better as they seek talent?

A resume is only a piece of the candidate’s story. Potential is not on a resume. I encourage employers to dig deeper and ask the right questions to get at the intangibles, what really sets the candidate apart. 

What are employers doing to retain their current staff?

Retention plans look very different across organizations based on the business model. Some employees stay because of their work/life balance, the benefits, the pay, et cetera and others stay because of the development opportunities they are provided. The companies who recognize that there are a variety of reasons why employees are loyal to an employer are more likely to be successful at retaining those individuals.

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