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A complete guide to hiring and staffing a cattle farm in the digital age

WorkHorse Hub March 11, 2019

Let’s face it. Staffing a cattle farm today is a whole different ball game than what the generation before us experienced. The digital age brought opportunities and challenges.


Most cattle farms need to hire ag workers, either seasonally or full-time. Some farms have stated that finding staff for a cattle farm is more challenging in the digital age. However, we can use technology to our benefit to hire and staff our farms.


Read on for a complete guide to hiring and staffing your cattle farm in the digital age.


Define the job

Your time is valuable, and the process of hiring and staffing can be time consuming and expensive. Define the job(s) that you need to fill on your cattle farm clearly to avoid unnecessary time and expenses.


Defining the job includes several steps:


  1. Set parameters. Is this a seasonal or full-time job? How many hours per week? Is housing provided, or will the employee need to find housing nearby?

  2. Define the ideal candidate. Sometimes it’s easier to start with what you don’t want in an ag worker, in order to get to what you do want. Make a list of skills and qualities that the ideal candidate should have.

  3. Write a job description. It may take a couple of drafts to get to the ideal job description. This is time well spent, saving you from headaches later on. Have other workers on your cattle farm with direct knowledge of the position review the description for edits or changes.


Going through this process will help you clearly articulate what you want in the employee for your cattle farm, and identify the right person among applicants. You can also review the qualities to look for in an ag worker prior to starting the hiring process.


Still have questions? We have ag experts who can help you define your job.


What are the benefits for an ag worker?

Attracting top candidates for your cattle farm will depend on several factors, including the benefits that you offer. These include salary, housing, paid time off, insurance, and retirement benefits.


You should list all benefits out before beginning the hiring process. They may not be included in your job description, but you should be ready to answer questions about them when interviewing potential employees.


We’ve all been surprised before, and some ag workers may try and counter your offer, looking for an increased salary or other benefits. Consider beforehand whether you have room for negotiation, or if the salary and benefits you offer are fixed.


Advertising the job

Let’s get started with some hiring now that you’ve defined the job and benefits. This is where innovative technology practices from the digital age can help you find an employee.


Cattle farms have had success recruiting employees online, as that is how many potential employees expect to find their next career. You have to be in the same space as potential employees to be a competitive employer, and to find the best ag workers.


WorkHorse Hub is a site dedicated to connecting ag employers and workers. The best candidates for a job are seeking industry-specific job boards to find careers and compare their options.


The beauty of an online job board compared to traditional hiring methods is that it helps screen out unqualified applicants, saving you time, frustration, and money.


Each match you receive from WorkHorse Hub shows whether or not the person meets your minimum qualifications based on the criteria you selected when making your job ad. This is a game changer if you’ve defined your job accurately.


Screening the applicants

Okay, your job was posted on WorkHorse Hub and now you have a pile of resumes for prospective employees in your inbox. What should you be looking for to find the right one?


  1. Experience with cattle. The applicants you review should have experience with cattle or transferable skills in order to succeed. What you’re looking for on the resume is how much experience, and in what settings. Does it match your expectations for the job on your farm?

  2. Look for accomplishments. What did the candidate accomplish in their previous positions? Did they help increase average weaning weights? Did they lower the number of days open in cows?

  3. Training and certification. Where did your potential ag workers get their experience? Do they have any relevant training and certification, for example in welding or agricultural mechanics that will benefit your farm?

  4. References. You will probably contact the references of the top candidate after interviews. However, who a person lists as references can provide insight to them as a candidate, so look at this section on all resumes.


The interview process

You have a head start on interviewing since you’ve already reviewed the resume. The first questions you ask in the interview process may clarify questions you had about their resume. For example, if a resume only listed duties, you could ask about their specific accomplishments in each position.


What else should you ask? Here are a few recommendations:


  1. Why do you want to work on our cattle farm? This question will allow the candidate to show their passion for cattle, and knowledge of your farm, providing they did their homework before the interview.

  2. What made you apply for our job? Answers to this question will show you if the ag worker carefully read and understands the job description for your cattle farm.

  3. Tell me about how you overcame a difficult work situation in the past? By asking someone to tell you about how they overcame a challenge you can gain insight into how they would handle other challenges, and if their personality will mesh well with you and others on your farm.

  4. What are a few of your strengths? Ideally, the strengths will match those that you need on your farm: innovative, adaptable, and flexible are ideal strengths. Beware of the hard worker. Shouldn’t they all be hard workers?

  5. What are a few of your weaknesses? Answers to this questions will tell you whether or not a candidate is self-aware about their weaknesses, is working to improve themselves, and if the weaknesses will limit their ability to work on your farm. For example, a bad temper isn’t okay when working with animals.

  6. Why are you leaving your current job? It might just be time for a change or a new challenge. But, how they answer this question will also provide insight on their character. Workers who speak negatively about an employer should be avoided.

 

Summary

It’s easier than you think to hire and staff your cattle farm in the digital age. Qualified employees are only a click away through sites such as WorkHorse Hub, opening doors to ag workers who wouldn’t have found your farm through traditional methods.


Yes, finding good ag workers still takes time. However, using our guide will help you find the right workers for your farm, saving you time and money over the long haul as you spend less time searching, and find the right ag worker the first time. Farm on!

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