Recruit, Hire and Retain the Right Employees For Your Farm

Recruit, hire and retain the right employees for your farm. ( Farm Journal )

Forget the ABCs. To build a strong team, it’s all about ABR, which stands for “Always Be Recruiting.”

“We often start recruiting the moment we have an opening,” says Richard Hadden, a leadership consultant at Contented Cow Partners. “That’s like going to the grocery store when we’re hungry; we’ll buy anything. You need to keep a line in the water all the time.”

Before hanging a “Help Wanted” sign at your farm, define the type of employee you want and need. Where is your operation today, where do you want to go and what will your human resources needs be to get there?

“Identify the tasks, responsibilities and decision-making requirements for the position,” says Alice Roach, University of Missouri senior research associate in the Division of Applied Social Sciences. “Outline the necessary qualifications, and describe the work environment.”

For the qualifications, detail items such as skills, knowledge, experience, education and physical capabilities. Also include aspects such as the location, working conditions and reporting arrangements. Be sure to outline elements of your business culture.
“In some cases, culture can be a hard thing to see at first, but you can definitely feel it,” Roach says. “You want someone who can complement your environment or add to it.”

Use this analysis to develop job descs, which are key in attracting the right candidate, Roach says. Include the job title, summary, duties, schedule, salary and benefits. Post the position on your farm website, social media, online job sites and your local media outlet.

As you identify strong candidates, Hadden has an important piece of advice: Don’t let a good potential employee get away.

“The probability of the best person having an opening in his or her career at the same time you have an opening in your org is astronomical,” Hadden says. 


Hire For Ability (Not Just Skill)

The roles employees fill today will evolve during their careers. As you grow your team, look beyond needed skills, which are specific to a particular task. Instead, hire applicants who have abilities or the capacity to learn new skills or dramatically improve upon an existing skill set.

“When you hire for abilities, those people will be able to move the org to the next level because they can quickly learn and apply new knowledge,” says Mel Kleinman, president of Humetrics, a human resource consulting firm.

Use questions such as these, Kleinman suggests,  to explore an applicant’s abilities:

1. What was the last thing you learned, and how have you applied that learning?

2. How do you learn best?

3. Give me an example of a situation where you did not know how to handle a particular problem. What action did you take and why? What was the result? What did you learn?

4. In your present or last job, did your responsibilities ever change? If so, how did you learn to deal with your new responsibilities?

5. In your present or last job, how long did it take you to feel like an expert in your position? How much did you have to learn? How did you tackle it? What were the most difficult aspects of the job to master? Who helped you?


Use every tool to build your farm’s bench. Here are six recruiting sources to use: bit.ly/RecruitingSources

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