10 steps to farm shop staff recruitment success

Recruitment expert Max MacGillivray, who has worked throughout the agricultural sector including at the NFU, shares his tips for hiring the right candidate.

See also: Vacancies on the Farmers Weekly jobs site

Your recruitment toolbox

Your website is your shop window: If you have a website, make sure you have a section about jobs/careers and a big clear button on your home page pointing to it. Even if you have no vacancies, you can still allow people to contact you, so that you don’t miss out on a real star.

Challenge your staff to help: Your staff may know suitable candidates. Some companies offer incentive schemes for team members who suggest a suitable candidate. You could reward them with money/vouchers/holiday if the candidate they suggest joins the business and lasts a certain period of time. Hopefully your staff will suggest good people that they would be happy to work with.

Ask your customers: Your customers, who know what sort of staff they like to interact with, might have contacts who could fit the bill. 

Use local press: Beyond adverts, make sure you are taking part in activities that get you press coverage so you are raising awareness of your business.

Use social media: Your social media audience could hold possible candidates who are already interested.

Don’t forget advice centres: Organisations such as the Federation of Small Business (FSB) can help provide valuable advice about employment and regulation.

Step 1 – Set your aims

What do you want to achieve? Are you recruiting for one role or multiple roles? You need to consider:

  • The ideal outcome
  • The role(s)
  • Market conditions
  • Competition for talent in your area.

Step 2 – Prepare for success

From the very start, make sure you have the below sorted and ready to share:

  • Job spec/person spec
  • Salary and benefits package
  • Timescales and the interview/assessment process.

Step 3 – Identify your targets

“You’ve got to find excellence, but where is it going to be?” asks Max. Think about the sort of person you want to attract:

  • Back-to-work mums
  • Graduates
  • School leavers
  • Professionals.

Step 4 – Set your goals


  • How and when you advertise and network
  • When you will hold first and second interviews
  • How you will present an offer.

Step 5 – Define your methods

How are you going to deliver your campaign:

  • Via your network, or your website
  • How are you going to capture interest, and stand out
  • Perhaps a clever video about the company and people you are looking for could help.

Step 6 – Prepare your pitch

There is such a big demand for good people, you have to set out why they should work for you. “You have to crate a uniqueness, a magic dust for your business that attracts people and that keeps people,” says Max. Consider:

  • What makes your business different
  • What you can offer that others can’t
  • Your unique selling point as an employer.

Step 7 – Get the process right, first time

Think about how you will conduct interviews:

  • Ensure compliance, transparency and a fair, equal recruitment process.

Step 8 – Assess applications intelligently

Be fair and equal in the assessment of all applications:

  • Don’t just judge people by their CV – these can over- or undersell
  • Remember your business is reflected in the experience of every single candidate so ensure you acknowledge all applications in some way.

Step 9 – Be involved and prepare for changes

  • Allow for different perspectives to be taken into account
  • Involve other people, key members of your team and seek their opinions.

Step 10 – See it through

“The best thing about running a business is employing people. And the worst thing about running a business is employing people,” says Max.

  • There will be speed bumps along the way, and disappointments, but major on the successes.

Harper Adams graduate MaxMacGillivray set up Redfox in 2002 to provide candidates for senior roles in the fresh produce, agri-business and retail sectors. He was speaking at the Farma 2015 conference.