We’ve all had those times in our careers where we’ve needed some validation of a decision — good or bad, right or wrong — and use the outcome as a learning experience. 

In the professional arena, some of the most impactful, and often toughest decisions come on the hiring side. This is especially true for dealerships on the hunt for precision talent. Experience, personality, ambition and confidence are sought after qualities, but rarely do new hires come equipped with everything an employer wants — nor should they. 

There is no perfect employee. But there should be a continuous pursuit of excellence and improvement — shared by both employer and employee. I’ve talked with several precision farming managers in recent months who have lamented the dearth of quality specialists and expressed frustration over their inability to advance their business in the face of turnover. 

Says one precision manager, “Everyone wants the rock star right away, but inevitably, you are going to start with rookies who need to be trained and developed.”

Finding and retaining precision farming talent has long been a challenge for equipment dealers, with many looking to expand or evolve the scope of their business. Dealers have pumped the breaks on hiring plans in recent years, but are planning to be more aggressive in adding precision specialists during the coming year.

According to Ag Equipment Intelligence’s 2019 Dealer Business Outlook & Trends report, about 18% of U.S. dealers are forecasting an increase in precision specialist hiring, a 6% increase over 2018. The report, which tracks hiring and revenue projections for the coming year, reveals that dealers for 4 of the 5 major ag equipment manufacturers forecast at least 10% growth in precision farming hires in 2019. 

Nearly one quarter of Case IH dealers project precision staff additions in 2019, nearly double the forecast for this year. New Holland is also forecasting significant growth, with 19% of dealers planning additional precision hires, nearly five times the percentage in 2018.

AGCO dealers plan to remain consistent with precision hiring, year-over-year, at about 16%, while 10% of Kubota dealers forecast additional precision hires in 2019. The biggest shift is John Deere dealers, with only about 1% projecting additional hires next year, compared to more than 24% in 2018, the top percentage among the five major ag manufacturers.

These are encouraging forecasts, but fulfilling them is predicated on dealers being able to actually fill current vacancies or new job opportunities with talented individuals. Part of the responsibility will fall on those employees who can lead by example with passion and professionalism.