Jun 14, 2019

Winning Ways to Attract and Retain Permanent Staff in the Agriculture Sector – Part 1

The Australian agriculture sector is a diverse and exciting industry that provides hundreds of thousands of career opportunities each year. It’s an industry offering more than most with a broad range of roles across adventure filled regional landscapes and exciting metropolitan areas.

Unique to some of the country’s other major economic contributors, it’s reassuring to see that over 95% of farms continue to be family owned operations (Parliament of Australia 2014). This continued grass roots ownership within Australian agriculture is something I really enjoy about consulting in the sector. It gives me direct access to the key decision makers and business owners alike – I get to know the business and the people running it. It’s also highlighted a number of areas where I repeatedly advise my clients on HR processes that contribute to more effectively attracting and retaining staff.

Unlike other industries, the majority of small to medium businesses in the Agriculture sector do not usually have dedicated internal HR departments. This can often result in process and procedure gaps, which, if not addressed can become larger issues as the business grows or during those hectic peak periods.

Based on my recruitment experience and the many agribusiness clients I work with, I’ve put together some key steps that I’m going to share over the next couple of weeks. The information I’ll be giving you is results driven and will go a long way in helping your business attract and retain the right staff.

Well Written Job Advertisements

An advertisement is often the first thing a potential candidate sees, therefore it’s essential it accurately and succinctly delivers the right information.

Your advertisement needs to provide the following:

  • Details about your business and its culture
  • Role description with a clear outline of duties
  • The skills, qualifications and experience your ideal candidate has
  • Benefits of working for your business
  • ‘Call to Action’ – links to the application process and contact details

Spending the extra time to write a polished job advertisement will potentially save you hours in the recruitment process. The more detail you put in, the better chance you have of capturing those skilled candidates to apply for the role.

Another key service, unique to Agri Labour Australia is our inhouse copy writer who works closely with our recruitment team to develop specifically tailored ads for our clients.

Up to Date Website

‘What’s their website?’ is one of the first questions I am asked by candidates. To me, this question reinforces the argument that a good website can be your strongest marketing tool. A well put together and informative website will engage, compel and persuade the user to think positively about the business. A bad one does just the opposite.

Websites don’t have to be expensive or complicated. A simple site with key content that outlines what your business does, company values, location, your management team and some high res photos enables potential candidates to assess if your business is the right fit for them.

While word of mouth is still great, it can’t compete with a website which is easily accessed almost anywhere by anyone with internet access. By keeping your website relevant and fresh with updated images and blogs, you will have a much greater chance at providing those more discerning candidates (the ones you want!) with a great impression about your business.

Structured Interviews

Once you have shortlisted the candidates you wish to meet, I recommend creating a schedule to ensure you have a structured plan in place.

Give your candidate notice as to when you will be contacting them. This allows them to prepare for the conversation and ensures they are not caught off guard. Often, candidates are still working in their current workplace and are unable to speak freely.

Have a set agenda and specific questions prepared in advance for your face to face interview to ensure consistency of communication with each person. Choose an appropriate location for the interview where there’ll be minimal disruption. You will need to have both technical and behavioural questions included along with other key points of discussion to assess whether they’re the right cultural fit.

If face to face interviews aren’t possible, video interviewing is the next best thing with plenty of simple and easy to use options that far exceed a telephone interview every time!

By following these few simple steps, your candidate will have the impression of an organised business and you will have an easy to follow structure enabling you to accurately assess and engage the right person for the job.


Want to know more? Tim Chapman, General Manager (Technical), is a highly skilled recruiter and manager with an extensive agricultural sector network. Equipped with over six years’ industry experience, Tim is responsible for the end-to end recruitment process of all permanent positions and client management and managing our high performing technical recruitment team specialising in agriculture and all supporting industries. Get in touch with Tim on 0499 184 555 or [email protected].

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