The agricultural industry is growing to meet demand, and in order to keep up with that demand, talented employees are needed. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sufficient number of resumes of only qualified candidates to fill your next role? Unfortunately for most, this just doesn’t happen.
More than 60% of agribusinesses expect up to 10% of their staff to retire in the next two years. When AgCareers.com surveyed students, only 12% reported that their peers in other degree programs outside of agriculture see the industry in the same positive light that ag students do. When you consider the number of youth entering the overall workforce compared to those expected to exit, there is a large gap and the competition for talent is becoming fiercer than ever.
Develop Your Brand
Overcoming this gap and increasing the pipeline begins with branding your organization. Employer branding, like product branding, is about perception and in this case about the employee experience at your organization. Reputation means a great deal to candidates. When asked specifically about company brand/image, nearly 80% of job seekers indicated that the company brand/image was important or very important in selecting which jobs to apply for.
Many people associate employer branding with expense. There are tactics involving some expense, and often there is people resource/time, but employer branding does not have to be costly. For example, develop a standard follow-up procedure for applicants that apply to your job openings. The number one complaint AgCareers.com hears from job seekers is that they don’t hear from the employer after submitting their application. At the very least, set-up an automated response to let candidates know you have received their resume and when you expect to get back in touch with them or fill the position.
Depending on the size of your operation, other actions can be taken to impact employer brand, like a website that has a clear career section or a description that allows potential applicants to know how to apply to positions. There are also advertisements and career fairs. The key is to make sure your organization is getting the most out of these avenues. For example, does the job description convey the employment brand with a brief description about the organization? Are you sending the right person to represent your business at career fairs – someone who can really sell the organization?
There are also logistical aspects to consider when focusing on attracting talent. As you develop job descriptions for the roles for which you’re recruiting, involve the manager/supervisor. Seek input on actual job functions and try to articulate the role and responsibilities as closely as possible. Limit the qualifications to those that are required or preferred. It is easier to be broad in this area and screen for the ‘would like to haves’ after you’ve seen all of the applicants. Include a specific location when possible, as well as a salary range. If the salary range is negotiable, that is acceptable to include. Be sure the description is current and legitimate if you reuse a job description.
As often as possible, forecast your recruitment needs, and consider several options for reaching potential applicants. Word-of-mouth and networking remain the most effective means of sourcing talent within the industry, but casting a wider net through online job board advertising and corporate websites. A long-term strategy could include reaching out to those who might influence career decisions, such as high school teachers and counselors as well as university and community college faculty.
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