Farm Progress

Consider concentrating your search for the right talent, then teaching the hard skills after they’re hired.

Bonnie Johnson, Marketing Associate

September 20, 2018

2 Min Read

The hiring process can be lengthy and complicated. Once you hire someone, you want to make sure they’ll stay and thrive. What skills do your employees need to succeed on your farm? There are two types of skills required for success–hard and soft skills. Hard skills, such as a certification or diploma, are technical skills that are teachable and easily measured. Soft skills, like teamwork and empathy, are people skills applicable to various situations and workplaces.

You may decide to interview a candidate when you check out their hard skills outlined on a resume or application. However, it’s often declared that workers need soft skills to get and keep a job. A candidate’s soft skills have a massive impact on their interview outcome and on-the-job achievements. 

There has been increasingly more attention paid to student skill development and the difference between soft and hard skills. Agricultural employers are now emphasizing transferable and soft skills importance over technical knowledge. In 2017, surveyed ag employers to assess the importance they placed on skills and how these attributes affected the hiring decision.  Employers noted that a candidate’s verbal communication, teamwork, and problem-solving and decision-making skills had the most influence on the hiring decision. Think about how these three essential soft skills intertwine and can make the difference between success or failure. 

Even leadership experience in a school or club setting helps develop soft skills. Therefore, it’s not surprising that ag employers are looking for leaders; the most valued attribute influencing their hiring decisions was leadership experience. 

Ag employers say that technical and hourly/non-exempt roles are the most difficult to recruit for. Given the importance of soft skills in relation to success, consider concentrating your search for the right talent, then teaching the hard skills after they’re hired. 

For more information on hiring top talent, visit

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

About the Author(s)

Bonnie Johnson

Marketing Associate,

As Marketing Associate at, Bonnie Johnson works on both internal and external communications, email marketing, company branding and market research projects. Bonnie was raised on a farm in Northeast Iowa and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and her Masters from Iowa State University. Bonnie has been with since 2010. is a leading online career site and human resource service provider for the agriculture, food, natural resources and biotech industries.

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