There have been a lot of changes in Western Canada over the last 3 years which have impacted recruitment and retention in the agriculture industry! It was not that long ago that there was a labour shortage in the western provinces, due in part to a thriving economy. There were more high-paying jobs than people and people were flocking to Alberta in droves from other provinces.
Fast forward a few years and oh how things have changed! Lower oil prices have halted/slowed oilsands production, putting many out of work, and driving unemployment. Many agriculture employers were initially optimistic that they would have more candidates, which initially did appear to be the case.
However, many employers have been hesitant to hire those from other industries, worried that as soon as the price of oil and gas rises, they will lose those employees and be back to square one. The reality is that there are now more jobseekers in western provinces, but are they the potential employees that agribusinesses want to hire?
This is one of the big challenges, and here are some tips and things to consider when trying to hire in western Canada:
There are many factors to consider when hiring a new employee. There are the obvious defined duties, responsibilities and tasks that will be required for the new employee to fulfill. Additionally, there are many non-essential qualifications that an employer may ask for that can be an asset to the role. These contribute to a person’s “fit” within the team and organization. New employees can come from a variety of backgrounds with varying experience, so it is important for an employer to meet new hires with appropriate expectations and meeting new hires “where they are.”
Job hopping traditionally was considered moving from one company to the next every one to two years, multiple times. The reasons for these moves was due to something other than a layoff or company closure. However, times have changed and it is unusual for individuals to stay in a position or at a company for over 6 years. Studies show that the average number of years a worker stays with an employer is 4.6 years, for younger employees (20 – 34) it is half that, at 2.3 years.
So, what does that mean for employers? Many employers and recruiters have changed their expectations, but still look for patterns in work histories. One short-term stay in a job is not cause for concern, and neither is a series of short-term jobs that were designed to be short-term, such as contracts or internships. However, when there is a pattern of quickly leaving jobs that were not designed to be short-term, it can become a cause for concern for an employer.
Sexism in the workplace is a complicated topic that can be very difficult for both men and women to deal with. Effective methods of coping and reacting depend very much on the situation and the individuals involved. But most importantly, people should understand that no one should have to deal with harassment or sexism in the workplace. In any situation, if a person feels threatened or harassed, they should go to management or their human resources department immediately.
While overt sexual harassment is a very real problem, many people have to deal with more indirect forms of discrimination which can be difficult to navigate. Specifically, many women are expected to tolerate sexist jokes, pet names, comments about appearances and expectations that they take on a disproportionate share of office domestic work and tasks. What can women or men do in these situations? Ideally, we would want people to call out sexist behaviour publicly, but many times, that approach can result in a backlash against the complainant from coworkers and supervisors.
One of the biggest challenges employers in the agriculture industry face is finding and retaining talent. This is where AgCareers.com comes in! The AgCareers.com job board is unique in that it allows employers to post their jobs, exposing these opportunities to candidates with agriculture backgrounds, knowledge and/or education. These candidates apply directly to these opportunities, connecting employers with the right talent. Additionally, employers have another tool at their disposal, the AgCareers.com resume database. Many candidates are open to new job opportunities but are not necessarily actively applying to open positions, so they will post their resumes in the AgCareers.com database, where potential employers can contact them.
In Canada, I have been lucky to work with some fantastic employers who are looking for talent to fill exciting job opportunities in agriculture. One of the most successful sectors of agriculture for filling positions using AgCareers.com has been Agronomy. One recent success story is Allam Farms Partnership, located in Ardrossan, Alberta. Allam Farms grows wheat and canola, and in the past has grown a variety of crops such as peas, lentils, barley, faba beans, oats and hay. New to 2016 is malt barley! They are a thriving business having experienced exponential growth over the past few years and AgCareers.com has been pleased to assist on the recruitment side!
In most cases, “hate” is a strong word, but it is one word that job seekers will use to describe the application, interview and hiring processes of many employers. What exactly is it that they hate? The answer can vary depending on the industry, job type, and employer, but there are many common themes across all of these variables. And while some are difficult to change, others are not!
1. The ATS Abyss: Unfortunately depending on the size of your organization and other factors, this is difficult to change. The common perception among many jobseekers is that if you are applying via an online applicant tracking system (ATS) then you are essentially funneling your resume into a bottomless pit, never to be recovered.
2. The Interview Process: How long does it take to hire a candidate? Many job seekers express that they get turned off by a long interview process that drags on for months. This leaves an opportunity open for other employers to make an offer.
Do you have hard-to-fill roles in agriculture? There are many factors that a job seeker considers when searching for a new career or looking at companies that they wish to work for. It is also realistic to acknowledge that some jobs are easier to fill than others. Whether it is location, hours, or the job description itself, many roles can be difficult to fill due to a lack of interest from potential candidates. So, what can be done to make these roles more attractive?
In this situation, you need to sell yourself as a company that a candidate would want to work for. While you do need to be specific about the job role, responsibilities and location, focusing on your employer brand and what you offer outside of the basics is extremely important. Target the candidates you are seeking and speak their language. Why would someone want this job? Tell the candidate what’s in it for them.
When recruiting or exploring careers within a specific industry (such as agriculture), recruiters and jobseekers have many options when looking at online tools. When specifically discussing job boards, there are many generic job boards that cater to all industries and there are niche job boards that work within a specific industry such as AgCareers.com. Many job boards, both niche and generic, have information about market trends, tools to help both jobseekers and employers among other resources. The AgCareers.com the job board is a useful tool in examining the current labour market within agriculture. In addition to job postings, AgCareers.com also provides salary data, market research, internship program data and career profiles, which all provide a comprehensive review of the labour market and trends within the agriculture industry.
There are many avenues to take when searching for candidates. In addition to posting a job on a job board such as AgCareers.com and receiving applications directly, another tool available to employers and recruiters is online resume databases. Many sites and job boards have databases that are searchable for employers, and both active and passive job seekers will upload their resumes. Active job seekers are those potential candidates who are actively applying to positions and networking within their industry to investigate opportunities. Passive job seekers are those potential candidates who would be willing to consider an opportunity under the right conditions, but are not actively applying to open job postings.
At AgCareers.com, we have a resume database that contains over 6,000 active resumes across North America. The majority of these candidates are individuals with agriculture experience and education, looking to move into another role within the industry. The AgCareers.com database asks candidates to select a maximum of 5 career types and 5 industry types when they upload their resume.
This past April, I had the pleasure of attending the “Advancing Women Conference: Life Skills for Leadership, Women in Ag Conference” in Calgary, Alberta. Almost 600 delegates attended from all over Canada and the US and included producers, ranchers, small business owners, corporate agribusiness representatives and association representatives among many others! To say I left this event inspired is an understatement! With a speaker line-up that included the very talented and engaging Debbie Travis and Alanna Koch, the Deputy Minister, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, delegates were given the opportunity to hear from female leaders both within agriculture and from other industries.
There were some common themes and messages that came from many of the speakers which resonated specifically with me. As a woman working in the agriculture industry that comes from a different background, I was very intrigued to hear the messages and stories of the various career paths of these very powerful and diverse women. I think the biggest message from all the speakers was “authenticity”. All speakers stated that they have seen women try to be something they are not in order to fit in or be successful. The best way to be successful is to be a success as yourself. Woman bring a different perspective and skill-set to many work scenarios and the key to success is embracing and utilizing these assets!
Some very interesting points were brought up by Alanna Koch, who I found particularly inspiring. Her talk was focused on how to be an effective leader/manager: