Farm Progress

Challenge is still finding the right candidate to fill your job opening.

Kristine Penning, Creative Marketing Specialist

July 27, 2017

6 Min Read

Recruitment methods have been changing at a rapid pace over the last 10 to 15 years. We spent a lot of our early years at explaining to companies that we were not traditional recruiters or “head hunters." Our industry-specific career site was different, and it placed more options and information into the hands of job seekers, empowering them to be more proactive in their search for a new role. We focused our energy on creating a following of industry professionals in agriculture and food so that our job board could serve as a one-stop shop for job seekers and industry employers. These days, we no longer have to explain who we are or how to utilize the site, so in a sense, our story paves the way for a closer look into what’s changed in recruitment. 

Change #1 – From Cold Calling to Internet Stalking

It was rare to hear about Talent Acquisition Specialists or Sourcing Specialists back in the “old days.” Recruiters did a lot of cold calling, and it was important to get to know the right people when you were ready for a career move. It seemed like people were more than willing to be pursued and wooed by a head hunter “selling” a lucrative opportunity, as you generally didn’t have an easy way of knowing all the potential openings you would be a fit for. Now, simply having a great job opportunity doesn’t mean top talent will respond. Today, there is more social noise and candidates have an abundance of tools at their fingertips to explore potential opportunities and put themselves out there.

Instead of random cold calling, a new breed of recruiter was born. Employers began hiring people with enhanced internet sourcing skills, and there are even certifications available in candidate generation through the web. Candidates can get visibility through placing their resume in a resume database that is searched by Sourcing Specialists. Many people tend to have a digital footprint out there, and it is the Sourcing Specialist’s job to find it.

Change #2 – From not enough applicants, to too many, to attracting the right candidates

Once job seekers could establish their own viewable profile and had access to apply to jobs all over the world, a new issue surfaced. Company recruiters were getting more applications than ever before, and keeping up was a problem. The Applicant Tracking System market was developed due to a need for compliance and it also served to organize all the inbound interest in employment. Today, there is still a struggle within companies to engage with applicants in a meaningful way and in a timely manner. On an interesting side note: “The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce's youngest employees is about half that.” (Forbes)

The switch to increased accessibility to apply for jobs also caused a shift in the way employers go about attracting talent. In the past few years, the term “passive” talent has been coined. When employers are looking to locate and engage talent - especially at the senior level - they speak of looking for “passive” talent - individuals who are employed and not necessarily looking for a job opportunity.  Starting to sound a bit more like the old cold calling days? Not so fast. In this digital revolution, we are seeing exciting new platforms being created online to establish a network, one of which is’s Elite Talent Community. 

Change #3 - From face-to-face interview to video conferencing 

The practice of flying in candidates for an interview has drastically decreased with the video conferencing tools available. With huge cost savings for the employer, tools like Skype have served to streamline the hiring process. There is definitely an expectation for candidates to adapt and be flexible in participating in this form of an interview.

Change #4 – From identifying with a job description to identifying with a company’s mission/vision

Applicants are looking at different things than they used to. It used to be all about the role and the description of duties and responsibilities that determined potential fit. Now there is much more importance placed on the company itself. The employer’s brand and values are searched and evaluated against the job seeker’s. Many employers are reformatting job descriptions to speak to top talent. The growth opportunities and meaningful work to accomplish is highlighted instead of a long list of tasks you are responsible for each day. Before it was: “What are you going to bring to this company if you are hired?” Now it is: “You have the opportunity to achieve X if you choose to join our team.” Even the expectations of the hiring process have shifted and employers are more conscious of the hoops they ask their applicants to jump through, as the hiring process can provide a line of sight into what’s important to the company and how it operates. Over the last few years, I have found it interesting the extensive amount of time and research many experienced candidates will put in before deciding to simply submit their application for a position. If companies don’t have their brand and values publicly defined, along with a quick, easy to navigate application process, it is likely they will miss out on great talent.

Change #5 – From taking forever to hear back about your application via snail mail to getting a text confirmation

Smart Phones have opened a new world of possibilities when it comes to engagement, and although some find the constant connectivity a hindrance, when it comes to your job search, I would venture to guess most people would welcome the option. Even an auto-generated message can be comforting when it’s all too common to receive no response at all to your application submission and wonder if a real person has even viewed it. It would be reasonable to conclude that it is very important for employers to be responsive and engaging when it comes to interacting with applicants (especially those considered “Generation Y”), as people now have immediate access to answers and information through their smartphone. People expect a response, and they expect it quickly. Nearly 50% of visitors to come from mobile devices/tablets. According to Google, 1 in 5 employment searches is now mobile. If employers haven’t optimized their processes to accommodate and support timely mobile submissions and communications, they will quickly find themselves scrambling to attract talent.

Overall, trends in human resources and recruitment seem to be cyclical. At the end of the day, it’s still all about reaching people. There may be new ways to interact and process improvements through technology, but the key fundamentals remain the same. Genuine communication and demonstrating that the company finds their employees to be a very valuable element of their business is the foundation.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

About the Author(s)

Kristine Penning

Creative Marketing Specialist,

Kristine Penning works as Creative Marketing Specialist for, the leading talent solutions provider in the agricultural industry. She resides in Central Iowa and farms with her husband Reece. Reach her at [email protected]

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