How to write an effective job advertisement

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Identify the list of activities you require the employee or apprentice to do, and the type of person you think your farm needs.

Consider that as an apprentice, the person may not have all the skills to do the work you want done, but that their training will address this over time. Therefore the work requirements can be expected to change over time. You can expect to give an apprentice more responsibility as they progress through their qualification.

Recruitment is a competitive business. Farmers are competing with other industries for good apprentices and workers. In order to attract applicants, farmers must offer realistic wages. This will be a balancing act between what employees expect, the legally binding awards which cover this type of work, and what the farm can afford.

A plus for attracting apprentices is that they will also gain a nationally recognised qualification while they work, and as a result will often be more willing to negotiate or will work more enthusiastically as a result. Make sure that you highlight this and any other non-financial benefits when you construct your advertisement.

Basic information for applicants

You may need to prepare a document about the job situation for prospective applicants. This would include:

  • A brief statement, preferably one sentence long, defining the purpose of the job;
  • Title of the position;
  • Whether it is full time or part time, casual, fixed term (giving expected length of employment) or ongoing;
  • What training options are available for the applicant – on the job and off the job;
  • What qualification/s the applicant can work towards;
  • How the role will develop as training is completed
  • The location of the position, i.e., the geographical location and the type of environment in which the employee will be working;
  • The position title of the person to whom the employee is directly answerable;
  • If relevant, the position title(s) of the employee(s) directly answerable to the advertised position;
  • The wage range or award within which the wage range is set, both initially and as the role develops;
  • Additional benefits; and
  • Who to contact and how to apply.

Duty and accountability statements

Duty and accountability statements describe the main purpose of the job.

A full time job will have between five and eight duty and accountability statements. The statements should cover the ‘make or break’ aspects of the job (usually fewer than half of the statements are in this category) and other important activities the employee will conduct.

For example, if grazing was one of the main position responsibilities, then one of the duty and accountability statements would need to relate to ‘grazing’.

Eg. Grazing – ensure cows are properly grazed during the day by:

  • knowing where cows are to be grazed;
  • moving cows to paddock and securing them; and
  • observing herd and water supply during the day.

A consistent format and style is used in constructing duty and accountability statements. Each statement must include action words. The action words define both what is to be done and the level of accountability of the job-holder.

So, in the grazing example it is clear that the worker is expected to be responsible for the day to day well being of the cows by conducting the specific activities of knowing where to graze the cows, moving and observing the herd and checking the water supply.

The employer should be quite specific about any particular pre-apprenticeship skills or experience (or qualifications) that applicants might ideally have. But word this very carefully; unless these are vital pre-requisites you should ensure that applicants who do not possess them are not put off applying.

Job specification

The job specification defines the skills, qualities, knowledge and information required to do the job. Between 3 and 5 job specification statements are required. The following are some examples, some of which will apply to mature age workers only:

  1. Technical ability, experience and qualifications – The employer should specify the level of technical ability and the formal qualifications sought. As well as formal training, other qualifications specified may include the number of years of experience in similar positions. Remember that an apprentice may be working toward the qualifications required, so make this clear.
  2. Personal qualities – Certain personal qualities and inclinations may be specified, e.g., the applicants should be self-motivated, hard-working, self-sufficient, independent, reliable and trustworthy.
  3. Attention to detail – Accomplishing tasks through concern for all areas involved, no matter how small; showing concern for all aspects of the job; accurately checking processes and tasks; maintaining watchfulness over a period of time.
  4. Autonomy – Taking action on one’s own initiative and from one’s own convictions, rather than needing the opinions and actions of others before taking action.
  5. Communication skills – Facilitating the effective exchange of ideas/information between co-workers and managers/supervisors through the spoken word or by hand movements; ensuring that all the information needs of co-workers are promptly met; and actively listening to others and seeking feedback.
  6. Decisiveness – Making timely decisions; rendering judgements; taking action when appropriate; committing to a side or position.
  7. Delegation – Allocating decision-making authority, tasks and responsibilities to appropriate individuals; utilising people’s time, skills, and potential effectively.
  8. Individual leadership – Inspiring and guiding individuals toward the achievement of goals; modifying behaviour to accommodate the tasks, situations and individuals involved.
  9. Initiative – Asserting one’s influence over events to achieve goals; being a self-starter rather than accepting situations passively; taking action to achieve goals beyond what is required; being proactive.
  10. Judgement – Committing to an action after developing alternate courses of action that are based on logical assumptions and factual information, and that take into consideration resources, constraints, and organisational values.
  11. Planning and organising – Achieving long-term and short-term business goals through effective planning and organising.
  12. Problem-solving/solution-generation – Applying the appropriate problem-analysis and decision-making strategies to reach solutions which deliver the desired outcomes.
  13. Teamwork – Participating actively in, and facilitating, team effectiveness; taking actions that demonstrate consideration for the feelings and needs of others; being aware of the effect of one’s behaviour on others.
  14. Work standards – Setting and achieving the highest goals or standards of performance for oneself, for others, and for the organisation.

Other information for applicants

When someone responds to your advertisement, send them a brief outline of your property, to give them a clear idea of the sort of context in which they might end up working.

Prepare this in advance. It is different to the duty statements and job specifications. It is a chance for you to let prospective employees get a feel for you and your farm, so that they can judge how well they might fit in. You could include photos or direct people to your website if you have one.

Writing a job advertisement (if required)

Your job advertisement needs to be very carefully worded. Be very specific and accurate in what you write or you may attract the wrong sorts of people, wasting your and their time.

Use the duty statements and job specifications to produce a brief summary of the key qualities and skills required. Also include a short description of your farm and the context in which the job is placed.

Test the advertisement out on other people to ensure you are effectively getting your message across.

Example job description – Agricultural Traineeship

We are looking for an energetic person looking to expand their experience in general agriculture by undertaking a rural traineeship and develop additional skills through on and off-the-job training developed through an Australian Apprenticeship.

This fulltime position working under supervision will assist with the running of an established mixed farm, running 12-15,000 sheep, about 700-1,000 acres annual cropping and 7,500 olive trees.

The successful applicant will be required to undertake a full-time Certificate II, III or IV Agricultural qualification under the Australian Apprenticeship system. The level will be determined by their experience and existing skill levels. They will develop hands-on skills in all aspects of animal husbandry, fine wool production, cereal crop harvesting, olive grove maintenance and olive oil processing.

The successful applicant will be given additional on the job training in machinery operation, mechanical engineering, computing, accounting, taxation and marketing, according to the farm’s needs.

On completion opportunities may exist for continuing on-going employment and individuals may be encouraged to take on additional responsibilities.

We are offering an attractive remuneration package including on-site accommodation.

Please apply in writing, with references, to XXX, by dd/mm/yyyy


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