Today's Labor Market Has Changed — Here's What You Need to Know

Dawn Hillrud, B.Admin; CHRPDawn Hillrud has worked in HR management since 2007, and with Knibbs/
associates specializes in recruiting talent in the tight agricultural labor markets, including agricultural management and sales positions. For more information, click here.

Dawn Hillrud, B.Admin; CHRP

The way employees are recruited has changed. In a series of four articles, I will explain these changes and a few strategies to adjust to the new trends, how truly understanding the job that you are recruiting for will enable you to recruit more effectively, how creating dynamic recruitment messages will help you to attract star candidates, and where to look to recruit good people. 

Step One: Understanding the Changes

There is a new paradigm in recruitment. Changes are happening and employers must adjust in order to recruit in today’s world.

People are mobile — they can change locations and jobs easily. Potential employees are able to simply use the web to research new locations and are more comfortable moving greater distances and to more rural/remote areas because of this.  Homes can be purchased sight unseen over the web and the moving/transition process is much easier using virtual tools like online school registries and job seeking tools for spouses.  This is positive for implement dealers that tend to have locations in smaller, more rural locations. 

Because of this mobility, attracting candidates from other geographic areas is a viable strategy that farm equipment dealers should be taking advantage of.  Focusing on areas that are struggling economically are a great start because there are often very qualified people in these areas who have been laid off and are seeking employment.

The new generation of workers value leisure time — they seek a better work/life balance.  The days of the baby boomers who seek overtime hours are over and the younger generation would rather have less money with more relaxation time and flexibility.  What does this mean for your dealership? You may require more people to do the same amount of work.  This complicates things in areas where the labor market is already in short supply.  It is also for this reason that employers should readily seek new employees from outside of their geographic area. 

Jobs are different today — there are now jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.  Employers are faced with recruiting for new positions that require new expertise. A perfect example of this are the precision farming departments that many farm implement dealers are currently recruiting for.  This is a new profession with few people available who have the training to be successful on the job.  This tightens the labor pool that dealerships can draw from, resulting in a more difficult recruit.

One way for employers to address this recruitment challenge is to build strong relationships with post-secondary institutions that offer courses for the newest and most innovative professions.  Connecting with the instructors of these courses and the career counselors at these institutions will provide a link to new and upcoming graduates.  Reaching individuals before they graduate will enable employers to build a long-term relationship with them before they have even entered the labor market.

There has been a shift in power — previously an employer held much of the power.  Employers could post a job and attract a qualified and capable candidate pool.  Now, in the areas with tighter labor markets, the candidate often has the power. They choose where they apply and can often choose from multiple job offers. The traditional workforce and number of workers in many skilled jobs are decreasing. Today’s North American families are having fewer children and the Baby Boomers are retiring.  In some areas, this results in more open jobs than new candidates and therefore, a shift in power.

Jobs are more technical and education is becoming paramount — many positions, incuding precision farming, require a certain level of expertise or education, and technology is changing at a very fast pace.  New developments are coming faster, farm machines are getting bigger and increasingly complicated, and it can be difficult to find parts people, technicians, support staff, etc. that have the level of expertise required to be successful in these  jobs. This brings us back to the importance of building relationships with post-secondary institutions that provide technical courses.  It also raises the importance of providing continual learning opportunities for existing staff.  Employees look for organizations that provide the opportunity to stay on top of innovations.

If employers are unable to adjust to the changes in recruitment, they will find recruiting a very challenging endeavor.

Coming in the next issue of Precision Farming Dealer:

Step Two: Know the Job. An explanation of how understanding the job you need to fill and providing a realistic job preview will help with recruitment.