Farmers all across the country are gearing up for another busy growing season. Spring and fall are the busiest times of year on the farm. If you’re wondering how you’re going to handle all the planting, harvesting, and marketing of your produce, not to mention caring for your livestock, you’re not alone.
Hiring seasonal help can be good for your farm’s bottom line. It could boost your farm’s profit and productivity. But, it’s hard to find someone you can trust, and there may be a lack of qualified farm workers in your area. Here are some tips to help you decide if hiring help is right for your farm, and how to find and choose the right person for the job.
The Benefits of Hiring Seasonal Help
Hiring seasonal help could be a positive step for your farm. An extra set of hands means increased production. It could also mean less stress for you. Farmers wear a lot of hats and having someone to delegate some of the work to will improve your own efficiency. Not only that, but if you choose the right employee, they could bring new knowledge and skills to your farm that could open up doors and increase your potential for growth.
How to Decide if You Can Afford to Hire Help
On the other hand, labor is one of the biggest expenses for most businesses. The first thing you need to decide is how much you can afford to spend on labor. Then, you’ll want to sit down, crunch the numbers, and ask yourself some questions before you decide to hire seasonal help.
How much could your farm grow this year if you had an extra set of hands? How much additional revenue will that create? How much will the extra labor cost? And finally, what’s the difference between the cost of the extra labor and the amount of financial gain. If your budget is tight, you might also consider offering lodging or farm products as partial payment to cut down on your out of pocket labor costs.
Don’t Be Shy in Your Search
Once you’ve decided to hire seasonal help, the next step is finding the right person for the job. Good help is hard to find no matter what business you’re in, and for farmers, it can be even more difficult. Most farms are located in rural area or small towns without a lot of potential candidates to choose from. Don’t be afraid to widen your search to nearby communities and utilize the internet in your quest for the perfect helper. Here are some great places to find potential employees:
- Start by asking around in your local community. You’ve probably made some connections as you’ve sold your produce throughout the area, so don’t be afraid to let them know you’re looking and ask them for recommendations.
- Social media is a handy tool for getting the word out about pretty much anything. Post your job on your farm’s Facebook page and encourage your followers to share it. Every community has its own local groups for job postings and community announcements, so be sure to post in those as well.
- Contact your local high schools and colleges to see if there’s a local FFA (Future Farmers of America) member or agriculture student looking for part-time While you’re at it, contact the local 4H Club too.
- Don’t automatically rule out friends and family. Nobody is going to stand behind you like the people who love you. There can be some risk with hiring family members, but they could also end up being your most loyal and trusted helpers.
- Sometimes old school methods produce the best results. Put ads in your local newspapers, community publications, and church bulletins. Hang up fliers at local grocery stores, hardware stores, and feed stores. Corner gas stations often have bulletin boards, too. Many folks shy away from Craigslist these days but posting an ad there will spread the word to potential candidates you might not reach otherwise.
Be Clear About What You’re Looking For
Farming requires a unique set of skills, irregular hours, and a lot of hard work. When you place your ads, be very clear about what your expectations are. It will save both you and your potential employee time and hassle in the long run. Your add should clearly state all duties and responsibilities, what skills are required, the hours you need them to be available, and how much you are willing to pay. Be sure to include instructions on how to apply for the job, too.
How to Choose the Right Candidate
Choosing the right candidate will also be a challenge. Having a list of your requirements handy before you even start reviewing resumes can be very helpful. Create a profile of the perfect candidate to help you organize your thoughts, so you know what you’re looking for.
As you review resumes, consider experience, technical skill, and education. Always check references for each potential applicant, unless you know them very well. Once you’ve narrowed down your candidates, you can start making phone calls to schedule interviews. As you make your calls, confirm that they are available when you need them and that they have reliable transportation to get to and from work. Asking a few key questions over the phone before you schedule an interview can help you narrow down the search even further and save time later.
During the interview, ask them to describe their agricultural experience. Ask them what accomplishments on their resume they are most proud of. Also, ask them what they are most proud of that isn’t listed on their resume. Questions like this can reveal a lot about how much they really know and how they feel about the work. Be aware that it’s illegal to ask things like their age, if they’ve ever been arrested, or what their religion is.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect helper, you’ll have to decide how you’re going to pay them. Will they be an employee or an independent contractor? You might want to get some advice from a trusted financial adviser to help you decide.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work on your growing farm, it might be time to consider hiring some seasonal farm workers. These tips will help you find someone you can trust with your plants, equipment, and livestock. If you need help during spring planting season, now is the time to start looking!