Are You Seeking to Hire a Unicorn? Let’s be realistic.

Are You Seeking to Hire a Unicorn? Let's be realistic

Hiring for skills in the agricultural industry today often means that you will encounter a Candidate Driven Market, which means an abundance of job openings and a scarcity of qualified talent. Hiring in such a market is much more difficult than when there is an oversupply of candidates.  In a candidate driven market, superior candidates are often gainfully employed, tightly held by their current employer and tend not to actively respond to advertising (so called passive candidates). In such markets, long gone are the days when you could expect to compile a short list of 3 or 4 near ideal candidates as a result of advertising.

These days we find that even identifying and approaching passive candidates often still fails to meet hiring managers’ expectations. Unfortunately, we need to accept that this is the reality of the market and not doggedly continue the search for the ‘ideal candidate’, however fruitless it may be. Such an attitude generally results in a vacancy failing to be filled for many months or even years, and leading to enormous lost productivity due to reduced product sales or reduced efficiency of processes.

There is an answer to this dilemma. Companies should consider dropping the idea of finding the perfect candidate and instead look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice. The ability to perform a job is made up of a combination of “soft skills” and “hard skills”. Soft skills are a collection of personal attributes such as initiative, confidence, positive attitude, enthusiasm, perseverance, professionalism, passion, sense of humour, analytical ability, interpersonal and communication skills. Hard skills on the other hand are a specific set of trainable abilities required to carry out the technical aspects of a job. Such skills may be product knowledge or the ability to undertake a certain process. Hard skills can be trained.

When it isn’t possible to find the required hard skills, be open to candidates who may not be the most experienced, but who have the soft skills and technical foundation to be a good fit with some training and experience. Hiring candidates who are enthusiastic, intelligent and eager to learn and providing them with training and mentorship is a smart move.

Tips for hiring in a Candidate Driven Market:-

  • Create a better candidate experience by hiring with a sense of urgency.
  • Be proactive not reactive. Find ways to identify and communicate with passive candidates.
  • Don’t haggle over money. Be prepared to pay the market rate for top talent.
  • Ensure that your company has a strong employee value proposition (for example, support for learning new skills, an emphasis on life balance, flexible hours, the ability to work from home, a focus on health and well-being, to name a few) and ensure that it is communicated to prospective employees.   
  • If candidates aren’t meeting the requirements as described in your position description, rethink them, and instead hire with an emphasis on soft skills and train the hard skills.

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Belinda Chung - Agribusiness Recruiting - Agricultural Appointments


The Pro's Guide To Recruiting For Agribusiness Jobs