Finding Top Talent

How Employers Can Connect to the Next Generation of Talent

You are an employer with amazing job opportunities in agri-food and natural resources, but like many, you are struggling to find the talent to fill those careers. How do you communicate the benefits of a career in AFNR? How do you encourage people to consider your industry and connect their skills to your needs? How do you show the next generation of talent the amazing career opportunities in your field?

There is no one size fits all solution for any organization on how to hire and retain top talent. If you're a farmer, a small business, a manufacturer, or a Fortune 500 company - your needs are very diverse. But when we share ideas and best practices and collaborate on ways to attract and develop the next generation of talent in our industry, we all win.

Here are a few tips and ideas we've received for industry employers and educators about how to attract and retain the next generation of talent in agri-food:

  1. Mentorships and internships offer real world experience and a deeper understanding of AFNR careers. Finding the next generation of talent means interacting with the next generation of talent! There's no way to fully understand a career until you immerse yourself in it, and offering your time and talent to people exploring your industry, as well as being open and willing to answer questions about your career path or employer can help develop and inspire new talent. The University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Sciences has a great mentorship program, and there are many other opportunities out there!
  2. Community partnerships can help you discover and hire talent. Many high schools, trade and technical schools, colleges and non-profits are working to train and inspire new talent. Many are also searching for local businesses with whom to partner. Build and explore partnership opportunities in your community! It can build goodwill, help demonstrate what a job in your field looks like, and open doors to find new talent.
  3. Don't limit yourself to those on traditional AFNR career paths. Many people have amazing, transferable skills for your open positions - even if they may not look like a person you would traditionally hire for the role. Just like we want to inspire the next generation to choose a career in our industry, we also must communicate to potential employees how their skills - whether it's technical, marketing, finance, etc. - can translate into a career in agri-food. Broadening your search and communicating open postings by highlighting transferable skills can help you land the right candidate.
  4. Quality benefits, flexibility and hybrid schedules are the new working model many people want in their career, and you must adapt. COVID-19 changed the way we all do business. As an essential industry, we showed true resiliency and innovation, and as the working world shifted over the past two years, we must again show that resiliency and innovation for our employees. For AFNR jobs that require in-person work, especially part time or shift work, understanding and providing flexibility for your employees' needs outside the workplace including school schedules, child care, taking care of an aging loved one, etc. can help you recruit and retain more quality candidates. Hybrid and remote options for jobs that need not be in person can help you recruit talent from a wider pool across the nation. Employers who offer flexibility, quality benefits and adapt to shifting employee needs will have a leg up in hiring and retaining top talent.
  5. Communicate how a career in AFNR can have a local, national and global impact for good. As Generation Z enters the workforce, they are drawn to careers that not only offer personal fulfillment and career advancement, but also create a better world. While we all know that a career in agri-food means you can help care for animals, tackle global hunger, protect our environment and waters, and more, we must all work within the industry to better communicate that to the next generation of talent who may not have considered agri-food careers before. Job postings, career fairs, mentorships and more must focus on telling a shared story about how the agri-food industry is doing good in our own backyard and around the world.

Have an idea, tactic or success story about how you are hiring and retaining talent in your organization? Share it with us! Email Tamara Nelsen at

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