Published 24 August 10


Job Description

The process of recruitment begins by defining the role of a job, primarily by the analysis of the tasks involved in order to create a Job Description and it may also be helpful to define the ideal characteristics of the candidate to fill that role, in a Job (or Person) Specification. These tools are the basis upon which a farmer can ensure not only is the best candidate for that job selected, but also to go about recruiting them in the most efficient way.

At all times bear in mind that throughout the recruitment process it is important not to discriminate on the grounds of age, gender, disability or race. See business link 

Here are some examples of job descriptions for various farm roles.


Farm jobs have been traditionally advertised in agricultural newspapers and journals, or at a less formal level in local newspapers or simply by word of mouth. The means by which a job is advertised is often influenced by factors such as the type of job, the employer's circumstances and preferences or the job location. In some cases, an individual may even be 'headhunted' if an employer is aware that they are looking for a new position.

Other places where it may be useful to advertise jobs are in Job centres or through agricultural colleges, particularly if unskilled, trainee or student labour is being sought.

With increasing use of the internet, however, various recruitment websites exist which aim to match potential employers and employees. Some allow employers to post job adverts which can then be accessed through job search engines - allowing for the widest potential access by job seekers - and others compile a database of jobseekers' CVs which employers can pay to access. These may be particularly useful when advertising the specific agricultural positions to be found in dairy farming.

In all instances, it is essential that a job advertisement contains the correct information and is clearly set out. The advertisement is the primary selection stage: by providing clear, concise information, ideal candidates are informed of the attractions of the position whereas those who are unsuitable will be discouraged from applying. Ideally, the job advert should include:

  • The job title and brief description of the location, the role or duties.
  • The name and brief description of the employer and their business.
  • Brief details of pay and conditions.
  • Desired or required skills, experience and qualifications.
  • The desired means of application for the position - by telephone, via e-mail or in writing.
  • The employer's contact details and any closing dates for application.

Here are some examples of advertisements for various farm roles.


Selecting which candidates are to be invited to an interview is important. This is done via the information provided in application letters, on CVs, through e-mails - or via telephone conversations if that is the preferred means of applying for the position - on grounds of:

  • Possessing adequate, required or desired levels of experience.
  • Being adequately qualified for the position.
  • Having the skills necessary for the role.

Less tangible evidence of suitability provided by initial contact such as neatness, quality of approach, or perceived organisational skills is also important, depending upon the importance of these characteristics to the role's objectives or the employer's requirements.

It is polite to keep candidates informed at all stages of what is happening, for example informing those not selected for interview and promptly informing interviewed candidates of any decisions.

Interviews are most productive where:

  • Proper introductions are made including those of any other interviewers present, and that background information about the organisation and the job is given.
  • Questions are open-ended - i.e. they cannot be answered simply yes or no - to encourage the candidate to speak freely, and questioning is structured to cover all the relevant areas, including clarifying information given previously by the candidate.
  • Interviewers listen carefully to candidates' answers, and make brief notes.
  • Sufficient opportunity is allowed for candidates to ask questions.
  • Candidates are familiarised with the terms and conditions of the job. If the candidate finds the terms unacceptable and is apparently the best one for the job, then negotiation may be worthwhile.
  • A tour of the workplace is included.

As previously mentioned, be careful not to discriminate against a candidate by asking personal questions or other information not considered necessary.

 In some situations it may be acceptable to ask a candidate to perform one or more practical tests to determine their suitability for a position if particular skills are required.

Here are some examples of important questions to ask at an interview.

Useful letter templates for inviting candidates to an interview or to inform them that they are unsuccessful pre- or post-interview can be found here.

References and Qualifications

References are usually sought at the final stage of selection. Referees are best approached with reference to a Job Description so that they have a basis on which to provide constructive comment. If a current employer is approached for a reference it must be done with the express permission of the candidate. A request for official certificates of qualifications from candidates, if this is necessary, can be done at time of interview, or can be included as part of the offer of the position.

Various useful letter templates requesting references can be found here.

The Acceptance of a Job Offer

The offer of a position can be made orally or in writing, but this is a good opportunity to include the Contract of Employment so that both parties are aware of their rights, roles and responsibilities. Employers are also obliged by law to ensure that their employees are eligible to work in the UK.

A letter template offering a job.

An important aspect of taking on new staff successfully is to ensure that they are inducted adequately by welcoming them and informing them about the organisation and the workplace.

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