515-223-5119 [email protected]

[Source: INEDA, 11.2016 | Keywords: Human Resources, Recruiting]

Nearly 60,000 high-skilled agriculture job openings are expected annually in the United States, yet only 35,000 graduates are currently available to fill them, according to the U.S. Department of Ag. How can your dealership reach and hire these recent college graduates? What can you do to set your business apart from others competing for the same talent?  

Recently, we caught up with some members who participated in Iowa State Universityís College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ag Fair Day to see what role career fairs play in their recruitment strategy. 

Members included Denise Williams, Human Resources Manager at Agrivision Equipment Group (AV); Corey Mellegaard, Human Resources Manager at Noteboom Implement (NB); and Andrea Hanson, Corporate Recruiter at Ziegler (ZG).

Here ís what they had to sayÖ

Q: What positions are you
looking to fill?

AV – We look to fill both full-time positions and internships at each of our locations. Our goal is to identify students who would be a terrific fit for a full-time position post-graduation. So, we bring in candidates that we foresee would be a long-term commitment not only to our industry, but to our dealership as well. The management team at each respective dealership is also involved in the selection process.

Prospective interns go through the same interview process as those interviewing for a full-time job. These paid internships must align with the student’s pursued degree program, in addition to fitting with job openings at each location. We strive to have one intern at all 10 of our locations each year and have had great success with many of our interns turning into full-time employees.

NB – We are looking to fill both full-time positions and internships, in areas like precision ag, service and sales. Our internships help students determine if this is the career path they really want to take, with some coming to work for us full-time after graduation.

ZG – We look to fill a variety of full-time positions, from technicians and accountants, to “summer helper” positions and internships. These positions vary from year to year and are based on what openings we have at our dealerships.

Q: What do you have in your booth?

AV – We want our booth to tell students who we are, where we are located, what we are looking for (intern vs. full-time position) and the values that align with our locations. We also do our best to let the students know what we are looking for and hope to find in candidates to help make the experience successful for everyone involved. Our booth contains a list of our full-time openings, as well as a computer linked to our website, so they can keep tabs on what’s available and a brochure on career opportunities in the dealership.

NB – We have an attractive banner that states who we are and where we are located, which is very important. That way, if they are not familiar with us, they can see where we do business in Iowa and South Dakota. In addition, we provide information about our company, such as job openings, how to apply for a job and so forth, and offer fun giveaways.

ZG – Our booth features a display and several handouts with information on Ziegler, including a listing of all of our different locations and how to apply for job openings at our company. In addition, we also hand out fun trinkets, such as helmet lights, keychains, pens, etc.

Q: Why does your company
participate in career fairs?

AV – Ag career fairs give us an opportunity to see what new talent is available to help keep our pipeline filled with top talent. They also give us the opportunity to meet first-hand with students and schedule interviews.

NB – Ag career fairs provide us with the opportunity to meet talented young people to fill internships or full-time opportunities at our dealerships. They are a great way for us to add talent to our organization.

ZG – College students are a great source of talent. Going to career fairs allows us to meet students interested in pursuing careers in agriculture.

Q: How do you determine which career fairs to attend?

AV – We attend 10-12 fairs at four-year colleges and universities, and two-year community colleges with a strong curriculum in agriculture, such as Iowa State University.

NB – We attend job fairs at Iowa State University and South Dakota State University, in addition to technical school job fairs, to meet and connect with young people from our local areas. We also participate in local high school job fairs and career days, and partner with some high schools for job shadowing, because we feel it’s important to connect with students when they are young.

ZG – Each year, we attend about 10 career fairs held at two and four-year colleges near communities where our dealerships are located.

Q: Do you follow-up with students after the event?

AV – Our recruitment team looks over resumes left by students following the event. We identify those who align with our values and qualify for the position and set up interviews with them. We also provide feedback to those we didn’t choose to interview at that time.

ZG – When students leave resumes with us we follow-up with them as needed after the career fair. We encourage them to go to our website, create a profile and upload their resume to our site.

Q: Any closing comments?

AV – Ag is one word, but there are countless opportunities available in that field. In addition to career fairs, our company is very supportive of job shadows, work study programs, field studies, bringing classes to our location, and providing specialized presenters at local schools. We have found that teachers and students are thirsty to learn more about these opportunities. It’s important for dealers to reach out to their local communities to let them know what jobs they have to offer. Sometimes you just need to plant that seed and make yourself accessible.

NB – Young people are the future of our dealership. Our organization is passionate about finding ways to connect with our local youth who want to come back home by providing them with job opportunities at our dealership.