Finding skilled and enthusiastic employees with a recruitment plan

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Finding skilled and enthusiastic employees can be the key to the success and sustainability of your farm business. Having a clear recruitment plan will help you find talent and ‘stand out’ applicants in the current competitive job market.

Attracting skilled staff is a longstanding issue for agriculture. Covid-19 has placed additional pressure on farmers to find and mobilise seasonal staff, such as the recent grain harvest.

The challenge of finding full-time and seasonal team members may be more difficult in 2022. Recent research from Microsoft indicates that more than 40 per cent of the global workforce is considering leaving their employers right now to reconfigure their careers or change industries.

Australia is likely to see this trend (called ‘the Great Resignation’) impact in the first half of 2022. Many factors influence this trend, but the pandemic is thought to be the main reason people seek to find a better work-life balance.

Trends like this present some challenges to agricultural employers for finding staff; however, there are also many opportunities. There are many stories floating around in the media about the resilience of agriculture and people joining the industry, such as pilots driving headers. There has also been considerable uptake in young people studying agriculture.

In the past, a generic four-line job advertisement in the local paper and the ‘bush telegraph’ were all farmers needed to find employees willing to exchange their time for a paycheque.

In recent years, the labour market has been very competitive. The competition for labour has been from within the sector and comes from other industries trying to attract the same people.

Recruitment Plan

Before starting to hire new staff, consider these points as a part of your recruitment plan:

  • Have you given thought to your approach to promoting the role?
  • Do you have a clear idea of the requirements of the job?
  • What are the characteristics of the type of person you are targeting?
  • How will you manage any enquiries about the role and the applications?
  • Do you have criteria for how you will assess and shortlist the applications?
  • How will you decide which candidate you would like to offer the position to?
  • Do you have clarity about the salary/wage you can offer the preferred candidate?
  • Do you have a position description established?
  • Do you have an employment contract drafted?

Giving some thought to the above points will help you gain higher-quality applicants to join your business.

Tip: Professional documentation gives a potential candidate a sense of security and confidence at the prospect of joining your business.

Ideas for promoting a role:

  • Online advertisements (such as Seek)
  • Print advertisements (local newspapers, industry publications)
  • Video advertisements
  • Business or company website
  • Social media
  • Referrals: staff, service providers
  • Share the opportunity with your farming networks (such as rural merchandise supplier, stock agent, agronomist, etc)
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Reaching out to agriculture education providers
Tip: The more energy and careful thought you put into writing your job advertisement, the better chance you have of attracting the high-achieving candidate.

To expand on a couple of these ideas:

Social media

Using social media platforms is a cost-effective way to promote job openings and attract applications. As well as business and personal pages, you could also post about the role in Facebook groups dedicated to promoting industry employment opportunities (eg. Young Farmers Network Facebook Group).

Video

Using a smartphone to video is a great way to expand on the position description. Video can give a potential candidate a feel for the business, the local community, and what is provided in the package (e.g. home, vehicle etc.)

Here is an example of a video used to promote a vacancy:

Further information

Over the next few months, we will be sharing a series of articles to help you better understand the human part of a successful farm team written by Sally Murfet, Chief Inspiration Officer of Inspire AG. These articles are designed to provide a basic awareness and, where appropriate, lead you to additional resources to help develop your HR systems & process.

Other articles in this series:

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