By Lori Culler
DTN HR Columnist
Welcome to the biggest hiring month of the year. More jobs get posted in January as companies are working on new budgets, and as candidates start reflecting on their current careers, they may feel it's time to make a change or focus on moving to the next level.
That's why January is the high month for job movement. While this is true for all industries, it is especially true for agriculture. Most candidates, the good ones at least, do not look to make a change during peak seasons. As we have heard time and again, we are in the tightest labor market we have seen in a very long time, but there are steps you can take to stand out as an employer of choice and be competitive in hiring top talent.
WHY CHOOSE YOU?
When putting together a job posting, most employers focus on ensuring every task is listed or laying out working expectations for the role, but will forget to cover why a job seeker would want to work for your organization.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself and to answer in any job posting.
-- What is your operation?
-- What is the history of your farm?
-- How would you describe your work culture?
-- What matters most to your farm?
In a candidate-driven market, potential employees want to get to know who you are as a company before they apply. You won't get a chance to explain those details in an interview if they don't apply in the first place. We need to get them at "hello."
Candidates are looking to see the impact they have on their work and to be a part of something bigger. What better industry to fulfill their wish list than farming? Getting to work outdoors and feeding America? it can't get much bigger than that.
AVOID BACKGROUND BIAS
We've already talked about being open to hiring outside of agriculture. Most farms I speak with agree that they're open to hiring outside of agriculture, especially for candidates with relatable traits and experiences, such as those from the military, industrial, or construction.
But here lies the challenge: when candidates apply, it's hard to see past the resume. Clients will often dismiss a "maybe" resume without speaking with the individual. A phone conversation can be short if that candidate isn't the right one, but it's worth investing 10 minutes to ensure you aren't missing something. As a recruiter, I often speak to candidates who don't look like a good fit on paper, but after our conversation, we realize they are the exact individual that the farm needs. Remember, a resume can't tell you if the candidate grew up on a farm or if they repair old cars in their spare time and would prefer working in a hands-on role.
CAN YOU BE FOUND?
When a candidate sees a job posting they find interesting, they generally don't apply right away. Instead, they search for more information about the company online.
Job candidates will visit up to five other websites to find information. That's why I highly recommend creating a website for your operation. An even quicker way to create an online presence is a Facebook page, which is easy to do. The more photos and company information listed, the better. If you prioritize posting regularly, you might be surprised by candidates reaching out from your area.
At the DTN Ag Summit we covered an important topic about being more creative during these tight labor times. Job postings by themselves are not enough. We encourage our clients to upgrade to a product that at least adds targeted social media advertisements or has our recruiters reach out to passive candidates.
But on your own, you and your team always need to have your recruitment hat on during conversations with others. Early retirees often make great hires to round out your team. Unfortunately, they aren't searching for part-time jobs online. Get to know your retirees in your community, and be on the lookout for any downsizing companies in your area.
Editor's Note: Lori Culler grew up on a vegetable and grain farm and is the founder of AgHires (https://aghires.com/…) a national employment recruiting service and online ag job board based in Temperance, Michigan. Email email@example.com nd find other labor management tips under Resources at www.dtnpf.com.
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