Jason Agar

Jason Agar, Director of Human Resources

Finding people is a hard part of running a successful business. Finding the right people is even harder. We sat down with Jason Agar, the Director of Human Resources for Rainbow Tree Companies for some tips on recruiting the best and the brightest candidates.

Jason is responsible for filling 10-20 full time positions each year in a variety of roles including consulting arborists, climbers, office space, as well as Territory Managers. In addition to full time employees, Jason recruits 0-50 seasonal staff members that make up the bulk of our plant healthcare, lawn care, and pest control applicators. Here are some tips Jason has for making that job a little easier:

1. Understand What The Manager Is Looking For
Sit down with the manager who is looking to fill the position and learn the skills, personalities, and scope of work the candidate will qualify for. If you are both the recruiter and the manager, then spend some time dialing in exactly what you are looking for. Know the market value of the position, that you are willing to pay, and a range you are willing to go up to if the right person is there. Before you post the openings, get a good description of the position created. If you are looking for a specific talent or skill set, state that explicitly in the job posting to limit the number of unqualified applications you receive.

2. Where You Post Matters
There are many more options available for posting your job opening than ever before, this also means there is a more diluted pool of candidates checking out each site, so it is necessary to post your opening on multiple platforms. The most common ones we post to include Careerbuilder, LinkedIn, Monster, SimplyHired, Facebook, and Twitter. Get to know your market too, as there are sites such as Craigslist or NextDoor that may be helpful options for you.  Use these sites not just to put up nets and hope the right candidate flies into it, but also to hunt down people who might fit the opening you are trying to fill.

3. Ask Your Current Talent Pool
Referrals are a huge part of our success, particularly with our seasonal employees. Friends, family members, former colleagues from a past job – if you ask your current staff if they know anyone looking for a position you are likely to get some great recommendations. If the candidates end up working out, you get the added bonus of having coworkers that genuinely like each other and that makes for a fun and friendly work environment.

4. Attend Live Recruiting Events
Career days, college job fairs, and the like are good ways to get out into the community and present your company as a leader in the market. Recruiting is networking, and there is intrinsic value in just being present at these events. Live events are really branding events, so be conscience of the materials you bring about your company and what your table or booth looks like. Be open about what positions you are looking to fill when attending these events.  The Green Industry attracts people from all walks of life and all types of career backgrounds. It is rare to find a job fair in town that will be full of nothing but qualified arborists, horticulturalists, or consulting sales people. That said, look into job fairs being put on by nearby community or technical colleges that offer tree care or plant science majors as these can be a great source of local talent.

5. “We’ll keep your info on file”
Employers who didn’t hire you at the time always say they will keep you in mind if something changes in the future, but very seldom do they follow through on that commitment. Previous applicants are a great pool of candidates to consider if a position opens up and are often delighted that you took the time to reach back out to them. Jason says that contacting a candidate a year later and letting them know you were thinking of them for a current position gets you a fan for life, even if the hiring does not go through this time.

Jason’s Top Golden Recruiting Advice:

  • The goal shouldn’t be to just fill the rack with bodies; it is all about the right person.
  • Measure twice, cut once. Take the time to thoroughly vet a candidate, conduct an extra interview in different settings. The cost of finding the wrong candidate is higher than you think so the cost of an additional interview or the costs of flying a candidate in for a face-to-face is well worth it if it fetches you the right person.
  • Filter IN, don’t filter OUT. Focus your attention on what candidates seem like they would fit into your company, not whether they wouldn’t