For your company to grow and prosper, you’ll want to pick the best possible people to help you achieve that goal. If you’re looking for new talent to help raise your company’s profile in the produce industry, you need to find forward-thinking, hard-working and creative workers who can take you to that next level. But how do you know when you’ve found that perfect person?

At JBN and Associates, we take great care to match the best candidates to the jobs that they are perfectly suited for. We know the steps that any business in any industry needs to take to practice due diligence and ensure that the person who gets the job is the best person for that job. The next time you’re trying to find a new hire looking to make their mark on the produce industry, keep these principles in mind and you should have no trouble recognizing a good thing when you see it.

Communicate Your Needs

To ensure that you get the best possible candidates you’ll need to be VERY specific about what you’re looking for. The more detailed and specific and direct you are about the kind of people you’re looking for and what the position you’re hiring for needs, the better your odds are at finding the perfect person for the job. You want to narrow your pool of candidates down so you’re not wasting your time talking to dozens, if not hundreds, of people who are not right for the job.

If you clearly communicate your needs, you’re giving candidates a chance to screen themselves out of the process. If they see that their skill set and personality isn’t a good fit for the job, chances are good that they’ll focus their efforts elsewhere leaving the people who feel that they are right for the job to contact you.

As an employer, take the time to sit down and really think about the position you’re hiring for. Make a list of every duty and responsibility that the job entails. Write down all the skills and knowledge needed for your new hire to carry out their job. And write down what desired character traits and personality you’d want in that position. Think about your company’s culture and what kind of people flourish in that environment.

Once you’ve made that list, narrow it down. Pick out the things that are absolutely ESSENTIAL for a candidate to be considered the best for the job. Then pick out the things that you want in a hire but are not dealbreakers if they don’t have those traits or skills. Use this list as a guide during your hiring process.

Related: 5 Common Myths About Careers in Agriculture

Social Media Skills

Branding has been a practice that the produce industry has really taken to heart over the last few years. When it comes to earning the trust and loyalty of consumers, few things are more effective than an expertly crafted and articulated brand. And when it comes to promoting that brand and expanding its reach, social media is the tool of choice.

When picking the right candidates, look at how active and adept they are at using social media. Do they understand the latest social media trends? Do they know how to use each of the different platforms, and know what their particular strengths and limitations are? And how do they represent themselves on social media? Do they present a professional, reliable image, or are they posting party pictures from Cancun?

Your candidate’s public profile could be seen as a reflection on your company’s character. You may have a candidate who’s perfect in every way but if they’re doing public things online that will make your clients and customers cringe they could be more trouble than they’re worth.

Early Adopter

The produce industry is just as reliant on cutting edge technology and new developments as the rest of the business world. Is your candidate someone who keeps up on technology? Are they the kind of person who could keep YOU informed about what new devices and apps and technological innovations could streamline, innovate and empower your business? If they aren’t well-versed in technology, do they seem to be willing to take the initiative and learn?  The key to survival in the wild and in business is the ability to evolve and adapt to the changing times. Your ideal candidate should be someone who is flexible, eager to learn and on the lookout for what’s coming over the horizon. Your ideal candidate should be someone who’d make Charles Darwin proud.

Professional Associations and Connections Within the Produce Industry

Does the candidate have prior experience in the produce industry? Are they a member of a professional organization like the Food Industry Association Executives, Produce Marketing Association or other like-minded groups? Do they understand the corporate culture? Are they aware of the unique opportunities and challenges the produce industry provides, and if not, do they seem willing to educate themselves and grow? Your ideal candidate isn’t necessarily a produce insider: An outsider could bring a fresh perspective and offer radical new solutions that someone who’s been in the business for decades wouldn’t even consider. You should always pay close attention to the past work history of a candidate, but it should not be the only or even main consideration for who should get the job.

Keep in mind that the produce industry, like most of the agricultural industry, doesn’t have the most vibrant image in the eyes of the public. People hear “produce” and think “supermarkets”. They think “farms”. They don’t think  “a profitable and dynamic professional industry.” There could be candidates out there who could have a tremendous impact on your business that wouldn’t even think about applying for a position in the produce industry.

When seeking out candidates, cast a wide net. Look at marketers, look at people working in the tech industry and in the sciences, look at business experts with proven track records. They could contribute unique skill sets and networks that could be invaluable for the health and growth of your business. Attract these outliers by recruiting in their fields and by promoting the opportunity for personal growth and gain by joining your company.

Related: 3 Tips to Attract Gen Y’ers to Ag

For more information on how to find the best candidates or to find out more about our executive placement program, call JBN and Associates at 480-344-2822 or visit our website at

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