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Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes

December 2017

Recruitment 101

      After the challenges of a busy calving and AI, now is a good time to step back and assess your staff needs for next season and start putting plans in place for the peak recruitment period early next year. From my experience putting the time into your recruitment process leads to successful staff placements and essentially the pick of the candidate bunch.
        It can be easy as 1 – 2 – 3;

      Farm Brief
      It is good to write yourself a brief on what you have to offer as an employer, this is your opportunity to find your ‘selling points’ to attract good farming talent in a hot candidate market. Gather your farm information, including key points about your work environment, for example, what is unique to your farm/team. Then take a step back and ask yourself “If I was applying for my job, what would attract me to this farm / position?” This should help make your brief become clearer…. Take some time on this first step, as this will be your key information for advertising, passing onto interested applicants or for a 3rd party working on your behalf.

          This will also help you to put together questions that you will want to ask when undertaking your initial shortlisting with candidates to ensure a good ‘fit’ for you and your farm.

      Background checks
      As part of your shortlisting process, it is always good practice to undertake basic background checks, with the key ones being reference calls with previous employers. Asking previous employers if they would re employ them is always an opportunity for the previous employer to give you an honest answer if they are a little shy. Reliability and quality of work are always other areas to ask questions around. Also asking basic questions around drug, criminal and health & safety history is important to gain the full picture.

      This is the part of the process where you have narrowed your shortlist down to 2 – 4 candidates and an opportunity to meet with them to more closely assess their skills, experience and character. As you have put good time into the process to get to this point, ensure you make use of your time by preparing questions for interview which draw out examples from previous work history proving the experience stated on their CV. Ensure you prepare standard questions for each candidate based on your farm brief and what you are seeking. By asking each candidate the same questions this will help rate them against your key criteria. It is also advisable to take notes so you remember what has been said and if any red or yellow flags have emerged. These nagging flags should be tested either by asking the same questions in a different way or by following up referencing concerning your issue. You will either be proved correct or it becomes less of an issue once you have further information.

        Following interviews, you can then undertake any further referencing if required and arrive at your decision. We find in a competitive candidate market, it is good to move on a verbal job offer as soon as you can to ensure the candidate can consider your job if they have multiple options. Then promptly following your verbal offer with a letter of offer outlining the key details once this is signed move on with a contract, Federated Farmers contracts are easy to understand and value for money in my experience.
        Just remember after putting in all this effort and getting them to your farm gate is only part of a successful staff placement. You will now need to ensure you are ‘living’ your farm brief and values to retain your new employee and that they are stepping into the job they were sold at interview. Set up some time in the next 3 months to meet with your new employee work out what’s going well and if there are any areas for improvement. This gives time for everyone to adjust their performance and meet expectations.