Fresh produce is 100 percent a people business—and people can be challenging and surprising. I was reminded of this recently while working with a client through Joe Produce SearchSM. We were talking through a situation with a candidate because, in the executive search business, there are many “situations” to work through.
In dealing with this circumstance, he says, “I used to say ‘sh** happens,’ but now I say ‘life happens.’”
That really struck a chord with me—it’s so true! If there is anything we have all learned over the past few years, it is that life brings change and unpredictability. And just when you think you’ve settled into the “new normal,” it changes again.
I wish I had the silver bullet to make your lives easier. Mine too, for that matter. No such luck. What I can share with you here are a few observations we’ve made as recruiters over the past couple of years. Recruiters have the unique perspective of listening to both sides of the equation—the employer and the employee—every day.
1. In the market for good people, demand exceeds supply.
We don’t see this changing in produce for quite some time, and we’re seeing this across the board in terms of departments. Defense is your best offense, so to speak. Keep your people happy. I know it is easier said than done, but it’s an absolute necessity.
2. The world has been, and is, changing. We have to also.
Working remotely, for example, either full-time or part-time, is a big deal nowadays. Some believe that working remotely and/or at least flex time is here to stay, and perhaps so. Long term, I see employers treating it like a driver’s license—a privilege and not a right. So, if people want to keep it, then they have to perform and show that it’s a worthwhile offering by the employer post-COVID. Work-life balance is a real priority for many people these days, and the past two years have helped cement that mindset.
3. Creativity and open-mindedness are key.
The past couple of years have really changed the employer/employee/candidate landscape, and it’s still evolving. What is temporary, and what is here to stay? What will prove to be rights versus privileges? How will technology change our world?
No one knows for sure, but what I do see is that progressive companies are thinking outside their “old and customary” boxes. They realize that attracting and retaining good people is different from way back in 2019. One of the more frustrating challenges is filling jobs and keeping people in seasonally transitioned roles, such as human resources, operations, and food safety positions between Salinas, California, and Yuma, Arizona. We suggest going into these searches being prepared to find a solution(s) that works for both parties. Be prepared to be creative.
4. There is no “silver bullet.”
It is an important mindset, so I will say it again. Employers, you are not going to find an accomplished salesperson who is willing to work for a near-nothing base pay or mostly variable- or performance-based compensation. While salespeople have great relationships and understanding of their retail and foodservice accounts, this does not mean their customers’ businesses are going to follow them to a new employer in the short term and/or the long term. At least not in the way some employers might imagine. Generally speaking, a salesperson’s relationships provide them better access to the customers and credibility, which is valuable. That said, the company still has to deliver on its own promises, and the employer needs to understand that developing a new salesperson and their business, even with experience and a great reputation, is a process that takes time.
5. Job seekers: Don’t over promise and under deliver.
Be truthful with your capabilities throughout the interview process. When you get the job, perform. No company is perfect, and no manager is perfect. Ease your way in, build credibility, and look for ways to help your manager, team, and company improve. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint.
6. Help us help you.
Whether you’re an employer or job seeker/candidate, a professional recruiter is here to help you and manage the process. There are so many nuances and steps throughout, and it’s way more dynamic than what meets the eye. Communication, cooperation, and coordination make it easier for us to help you succeed in reaching your goals.
7. Treat people well, whether you hire them or not.
Your hiring process is a reflection of your company’s values and culture. Be as forthright as possible when turning a candidate down. Don’t leave them hanging. Always be respectful of people’s time. This is important at every level. Treat the intern candidate as you would the contender for Chief Executive Officer. We never know what will change in the future, and in many cases, these folks are still your industry colleagues.
8. Be decisive!
Employers: Professionals want to hire decision-makers. That doesn’t mean you need to act quickly without all of the facts, but once you have them all,
be ready to act. Your ability to make decisions is also a reflection of you and the company you represent.
Job Seekers: This goes for you too! Be timely and decisive. Don’t wait until the last minute with
9. Allow room to be surprised.
Don’t immediately close your mind to someone you have turned down in the past. People do, in fact, change. Haven’t we all over the last few years?
The good news is, we’re all living this crazy life together, learning to adapt, readapt, and then readapt again. Perhaps the new normal is no normalcy, or, as we have experienced, a constant state of change. Personally, I hope not, but let’s take it one day at a time.
Life happens! Embrace it and enjoy the journey.