Hiring a new employee is a time-consuming and expensive process for any business, but there’s an added level of difficulty when it comes to sourcing employees in the agriculture sector. Finding employees who have the necessary skills along with the integrity and commitment you desire is no small task, especially when simply posting a job on corporate job boards or Craigslist seems to attract underqualified candidates, if any. In this post, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of various recruiting methods from an agricultural standpoint. Knowing where to invest your time and energy is key to making the employee-sourcing process a tad less daunting and, hopefully, more successful.
Internal recruitment is a great option in most companies as it allows current employees to grow in their responsibilities and advance within the company. Existing employees are already familiar with your operation, how it works and have proven they can be trusted. For agricultural operations, however, this option tends to be better in theory than in actual practice.
I think it’s safe to say most agriculturists feel they are never able to accomplish everything they want to within the day, so adding additional tasks to a current employee will likely lead to even greater burnout. Where this option comes into play, however, is when thinking about promoting a current employee to a more skilled role and shifting your focus to filling their previous role, which may have a greater applicant pool and be easier to train for.
Word of Mouth
Likely the most popular method in the agriculture industry and how employee sourcing has been done for centuries – word of mouth. This category includes quite a variety of tried-and-true methods, including referrals from current employees, clients or suppliers and networking through industry events. This method is definitely a boots-on-the-ground option and will take time, but can likely find you a more promising candidate because someone you already know and trust will be providing the referral. Not to mention, it’s free.
If you are new to an area, or the industry as a whole, this method may be less effective with fewer contacts to pass the job opening around. You also run the risk of damaging a current contact or employee relationship if you decide not to hire their referral.
Advertising in regional ag publications or even your local paper is definitely still a viable option with many hosting a more budget-friendly classified section or card ad options. While you will be reaching a large number of people, you may not be able to provide enough detailed information to narrow down applicants and end up receiving inquiries from unqualified people. In addition, there may be a time delay to consider, depending on publication dates.
Utilizing an employment agency is a more hands-off approach that will reach more qualified individuals and help sell your job to quality candidates, all while saving you the time of searching and sorting through resumes that don’t meet your requirements. There are industry-specific recruiting agencies, such as AgSource1, that have firsthand knowledge and experience to find you the most appropriate candidates. The biggest drawback of this method is the price; however, if the time you save translates to more than the cost of the service, it may be worth it.
We’ve saved the broadest category for last. In today’s digital world, advertising a job opening online can be done in innumerable ways. Below are just a few to consider:
Job boards are the most popular method for job searchers to view positions online. Utilizing a job board will get your job in front of applicants across the country and reach more than your network of people. There is an abundance of job boards out there and the cost to post a job ranges from free to more than $400 per month, with the majority of sites falling somewhere in the middle for a single job posting. You’ll likely post on more than one job board, so keep that in mind when evaluating the costs.
There are standard job board websites that provide listings for all industries such as Indeed, LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter. However, if your budget is tight, it may be more economical to zero in on the agriculture-specific job boards such as Hansen Agri-Placement, AgHires, AgCareers.com or listing in the online classified section of your preferred publications. You can also get even more particular, posting to sector-specific job boards such as the Ranch Manager Job Board hosted by the King Ranch® Institute for Ranch Management.
As technology continues to evolve, innovative options are becoming available to the ag industry such as AgButler. It’s a unique option for employers and job seekers alike. According to their website, “AgButler is a mobile application designed to help users overcome the challenges of agricultural workforce shortages by creating a network of experienced ag laborers made accessible in real-time. Similar to ‘ride-sharing’ technology, our system allows farmers, ranchers and/or agribusinesses to connect with available laborers filtered by location, ratings, work experience and availability. All done within a secure payment structure organized in the app.”
Your Own Website
Advertising on your own website is a virtually free option but limits you to those who are specifically seeking out your website. Someone viewing the job posting on your site likely already has an awareness of your company and an interest in becoming a part of it, which could equate to greater loyalty if hired. With that in mind, it’s worth considering as an option but shouldn’t be your sole method of advertising.
Just like posting a job on your website, advertising a job opening on social media is free and will likely reach even more people by comparison. Whether or not your followers are right for the job is a different story, but perhaps they know someone who may be a good fit, circling us back to the traditional word of mouth method.
Hiring new employees can be a major strain on a business, both in time and finances. Before deciding which method(s) to use, consider how much the job is worth. In other words, what can you afford to pay to find the right candidate, taking into account the cost of hiring someone who’s not right for the job and the need to potentially fire them and start the process over again? If you’re in search of someone to help build your business and expand your marketing reach, consider the media and marketing services offered by our BluePrint team.
Emily grew up in rural Connecticut with a passion for agriculture. She attended Texas A&M University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition. Emily has joined the BluePrint team as a designer and feature writer after previously working in feed sales and as the marketing manager for a large ranching operation in central Texas. Emily and her husband look forward to raising their family in the agricultural community they both love.