Ag Experience Required? Hiring Someone with No Ag Background

By   |   June 1st, 2015   |   0 Comments

About to Interview
In recent years, people within the agriculture industry have focused additional efforts on attracting nontraditional talent for several areas of their businesses (nontraditional meaning professionals that may not have grown up on or around a farm and don’t have an “ag background”).
Many college students choose to pursue a degree in agriculture, however, agriculture students only make up 1% of the total number of students in postsecondary education.1 As a result, we are telling our story of innovation as an industry, and working to promote the wealth of opportunities available in agriculture to talent communities outside of agriculture. How do you go about locating these nontraditional candidates? Below are a few examples of sources for nontraditional talent.

  1. Military

The military is known for instilling solid leadership skills, and many will have an abundance of other transferrable skills that make a transition into agriculture make perfect sense. One example: If you are a mechanic, working on Hummers and the technology that goes along with, there is a strong likelihood that you could be successful in the precision ag equipment space. Companies across the ag sector have realized this and have banded together to promote the AgWarriors initiative. This initiative is all about connecting military men and women with career opportunities in agriculture.


Surprise! has a nontraditional following, with 30% of applicants in 2014 having what they considered a non-ag occupation. Many times this translates to working for a company that is not considered an agricultural company; however, they have solid transferrable skills with expertise in areas like accounting, manufacturing, information technology, etc.

  1. Student Associations/Organizations

Engaging with student based associations or organizations that are outside the traditional agricultural space can be resourceful for tapping into unreached talent. Many will have limited knowledge as to the breath of careers available in our industry and are eager to connect with an employer who has diverse and available career opportunities. You can target groups that match the types of careers you hope to fill for example; Net Impact, for students looking for careers where they can make an impact through social innovation, JAG/Jobs for America’s Graduates which can help fill the need for Skill and Trade roles, or the Association for Women in Science to connect with women who have aspirations of a career with a science focus.


  1. Social Media

Utilizing social media resources will not only allow you to target active job seekers but also give you access to a diverse candidate pool. Advertising your company brand and job opportunities on social media and remaining committed to being active on the sites will help keep your talent pool filled with candidates you can welcome into the industry.


Once you’ve hired someone without an ag background, how do you get them acclimated and fuel their passion for the industry? Exposure is one way to go about it. Provide employees with an opportunity to experience a “Day in Ag”. Give them a paid day off, with the mission of learning more about an area of agriculture that they haven’t experienced first-hand. You can even utilize their experiences to further tell the story of agriculture through social media channels by highlighting pictures/comments from their travels.
Here at, we are currently conducting a Share Ag Campaign, where we encourage and incentivize employees to share the world of agriculture with young people. There are also plenty of industry specific trade shows and conferences to send your employees to, where they can start to become immersed in the industry. For example, if you are hiring someone within human resources without an ag background, the Ag & Food HR Roundtable Conference offers sector specific peer networking opportunities. Agriculture is a strong and stable industry in which to grow your career, and many people say the men and women who work in ag are the friendliest as well. Let’s continue to ensure we are demonstrating that to those nontraditional candidates!


1 Enrollment and Employment Outlook Report

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