Growing Your Future
in Agriculture

Job Offers 5 posts

22 August 2011
Topic: Job Offers

Getting To The Acceptance - Negotiation Strategies

What is negotiation? Isn't it simply the discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement? Then why does the word seem so intimidating and powerful? Possibly, it's because the term often represents situations where much is gained or lost? Or perhaps it is all the fancy books inside the local Borders that outline the newest negotiation tips and tricks? How can one digest all that info?

Here at Career Solutions, we think of negotiating as a simple process that should bring out excitement, not fear, not frustration…negotiation is the result of a successful interview process!

There is no book you can read to perfect the art of giving and taking the key to good negotiation is in having the proper perspective. Your perspective is always based on your intentions. If you are motivated to work for the company, you will find a way to reach an agreement and vice versa. Sometimes one party is more dedicated to reaching terms than the other and things won't work out, but the majority of the time when both parties are committed, the deal gets done and both parties are satisfied. Begin with the end in mind and don't go through the negotiations if you are not serious about accepting the job.

With this in mind, here are a couple of key points to remember on negotiating:

  • No two job negotiation experiences will be alike
  • There are many forces that impact your negotiating power
  • Unless this is an upper level position, there is usually only one opportunity to negotiate.
  • Face to face meetings are always the best format for nailing down the details
  • Make sure to know the 3 or 4 things you bring to the table why they need to hire you
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions this gives you information, information is critical to good communication
  • Honesty is critical… be up front with your needs, there is no need to be embarrassed about what you are worth
  • Don't be unreasonable in what you ask and check the ego at the door, ego's will always cost you money.
  • Always seek win/win…..if one side loses, nobody wins. Utilize a collaborative attitude.
  • Remember, how your counterpart handles the process speaks volumes about who they are.
  • Keep notes on the discussion and get the final agreement in writing.
  • If no agreement is reached, keep the door open should the other party reconsider.

17 August 2011
Topic: Job Offers

Evaluating Job Offers

Evaluating Job Offers - What Path To Take?

The computer beeps, the screen flashes, an email pops up, and your heart jumps as you see
"job offer" in the subject line. As you read through this email, one of two emotions register; "yes, this is the greatest offer ever" or "aahhh, what the @#$% are these folks thinking - I canʼt work for this". At this point, do me a favor, do your spouse a favor, do yourself a favor - pause and donʼt reply right matter what you are thinking.

In his book on Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey discusses the principle of seeking first to understand, then be understood. This is a good time to invoke this principle by beginning to formulate questions and seeking to understand the details. Youʼve heard about the six Pʼs right? - "prior preparation prevents piss poor performance". Piss poor performance, I will assume, is not something you want to achieve in the new job, so seeking to understand what you are getting into is a very important component of preparation. Remember, there is much more to an offer than the offer itself. Let me give you three items to evaluate when considering offers:

I. Financial

There are three primary categories to evaluate in the finance section - base
compensation "(expressed in a yearly salary or hourly rate), incentives
(commissions/"bonuses), and benefits (vacation, holidays, insurance, etc...). Most
of these items are cut and dried, meaning it is either there or it isnʼt. However, this
section has the most flexibility for change, so if it isnʼt there, donʼt close the door
completely. One word of advice, unless you have an extremely unusual situation that
dictates, donʼt base your decision to accept or decline off of the benefit package. This is
very shortsighted, as benefit packages change regularly and constitute only a small
portion of the total package.

II. Functional

More important than the financial is the functional. Yes, I said it and I mean it. Donʼt
believe me, then think of it this way. If you hate your boss and hate your coworkers, how
much money will it take you to stay there for five years......your right, there probably isnʼt
a reasonable amount!!! The functional is about exploring how you fit with the
company, culturally, operationally, and directionally. We all have that job that if we had it
to do over again, we wouldnʼt have jumped at the money. Therefore, it is ultra-critical to
gather as many facts on why the position is being filled - companies only add people to
solve problems, so knowing the problem ahead of time sure helps."Additional questions
that have relevance include: who is my boss (ie: could I work for them), who will I work
closely with, where is the position located, how much travel, how much commute, is
relocation needed, what are the goals of the position, what am I responsible for, and
what is the companies vision/mission. It is in these questions that you want to base the
majority of your decision, not the pay.

III. Futuristic

In this section, you are posing long-term thoughts to the prior two sections aimed at
understanding where this new position will take you. For example, an engineer who wants to become an engineer manager, might consider a senior engineer level position
as a means to be positioned for management down the road. Individuals who evaluate
from this perspective, understand the importance of sacrificing the short-term for "
long-term gains. Often, it isnʼt about the current pay structure, but more about earning
potential and opportunities to increase pay. There is nothing worse than wanting to take
your career upward and ending up in a dead-end job. Often the hiring company, if asked,
will lay out a potential path for you, however, at the end of the day, you decide this based
on a "gut" feeling.

Webster defines evaluation as "an act of appraising a situation as to form an idea". A good
method for appraising offers is to use a weighted pro/con sheet, weighting the items that have the most importance to you. Remember an evaluation is not about always about reaching a conclusion, but more about forming an opinion on the options at hand. Often individuals arenʼt able to make a decision until after some more discussion takes place, which brings us to the topic of my next blog......negotiating.
15 July 2011
Topic: Job Offers

How To Properly Resign From Your Job

Is this a loaded topic or what? As a recruiter, I deal with this subject on a daily basis
and it isn't always as easy as it appears.....some people struggle heavily in this area.
What makes resignations so difficult is that there are many steps involved in the
process - making the decision, acceptance/rejection, writing the memo, counteroffers,
and exit interviews - the more steps equal more potential opportunities to screw up.
My goal is to take the next couple weeks and discuss not only the overall process, but
also some of the individual items, such as resignation letters, counteroffers, and exit

Prior to any announcement is the decision - do I stay or do I go? For me, I always go
back to why a candidate first contacted me or was willing to go through the interview
process. There is always a driving force (usually several) behind an individual seeking
new employment. So the determining question on whether to stay or go is "does this
new position solve my problem(s)". If the answer is no, then you will probably be
looking again real soon (ie: you would be better off waiting for another opportunity),
but if the answer is yes, well congratulations, you have just graduated from the
interview process to the resignation process.

It is important to note that there is no perfect procedure for resigning, but I will try to
do my best to outline the direction you want to steer the ship. One overall theme to
this journey, is that everything is done professionally (being professional is treating
others as you would like to be treated). Resignations are not about getting even or
retribution, they are about bettering you career. Remember, it takes few words or
actions to torch bridges......

That being said, let's back up a bit and not just jump head first into making the
announcement, as there are a few housekeeping items that need to be completed first.
After a "yes" decision has been reached and you are ready to move on with your career,
it is very critical to get everything sealed up with the new company prior to informing
current employer of your intentions. Most employers when making an offer will provide
you with an offer letter outlining compensation, benefits, start date, and other items. I
am a firm believer in obtaining a written acceptance. This presents an opportunity for
another face to face meeting, where both sides can discuss all the details and
expectations up front. Remember, how an employer handles this, tells you a lot about
how they work internally. If you decide to reject the offer, then you should not send
them an email, but instead call or meet with the hiring manager to inform them of your
decision. Again, making a positive impression by handling it in a professional manner
will go a long way.

Okay, let's assume that we have an accepted offer letter signed, now what? The next
step is to write a resignation letter - I will cover this in a future blog, so let's just
pretend that the letter is satisfactory. DO NOT EMAIL THIS LETTER TO YOUR BOSS. It is
not the professional thing to do. Instead, schedule a meeting with your supervisor (be

vague on the subject). At the meeting, politely inform your supervisor of your decision
and hand them the letter. Prior to this meeting, you should have cleaned out your
office (keep only what is yours), as some companies will walk you out of the building
following this meeting. Traditionally, unless there are extenuating circumstances, two
weeks notice is common practice. During this two weeks, you should focus on three
things - 1) alerting your professional network of your career change (only say good
things about the company you are leaving), 2) Finish up all tasks assigned to you (do
not slack off and have a cheerful attitude), and 3) be willing to train your replacement.
If you do these things, doors remain open.

Finally, some organizations will attempt counteroffers and/or exit interviews.
Previously, I wrote a blog on counteroffers (I may re-post this later) and I expect to
write the next article on exit interviews, but in short I will say, if you can avoid the exit
interview, avoid it, and if presented a counteroffer, there are very few scenario's where
accepting one is to your long-term advantage.

Hopefully, this has given a broad scope to the steps in the process. Check back later
for more detailed discussions.
21 February 2011
Topic: Job Offers

The Truth About Counter Offers

Picture this scenario: You have just accepted a job offer from a company and find yourself walking into work on Monday with resignation letter in hand and butterflies in your stomach.

Upon arrival, you schedule a meeting with your supervisor. To your surprise, the meeting goes surprisingly well, you announce your intentions and the manager is very supportive and understanding, he even wishes you the best of luck! What a relief, right? Then out of nowhere the manager and his boss, a VP, swing by your office in the afternoon and present you with a lucrative counter-offer. Then confusion sets in. What do you do? How could you not accept a 20% raise?

Yes, that is an option, but let me provide you some "food for thought" with three perspectives on counter-offers.

First, consider the general principle of the matter. What was it that drove you to seek out a new position? Obliviously you were dissatisfied with something or you would have not shot out the ole' resume. Were you not being treated well? Is the culture or work environment toxic? Did you desire a new responsibility/position? If the answer is yes, then no increase in salary will change these problems.

Second, if money was the primary driver, then why now are they suddenly opening up the pocketbook and giving you that big pay raise? Before you had another offer you weren't worth the money and now you are? What has changed since then? Possibly leverage? Remember, good quality companies don't
wait to reward an employee until they are about to lose them. At quality companies, pay raises are the result of hard work, not threats to leave.

Let's say that you do accept this counter offer with a 20% raise, what do you think your raise will be at the upcoming review? Absolutely correct...nada!!! This was your raise, it just came early!!! Do you know what also came with this raise? A special reserved spot at the front of the downsizing line the next time sales drop. You say how can this be……they just told me how much my work was valued? It is valued, until they need to chop out the highly paid employees in order to keep their own jobs.

When a downsizing occurs, you have two strikes against you: Disloyalty and price. Accepting more money simply means that you can be bought. Others in the office will take note and remember.

Thirdly, in order to accept a counter-offer, you have to call up the company that you just accepted an offer from and explain to them that your word is no longer any good. Isn't this a more gut-wrenching experience than resigning? There is no good advice on how to do this, because no matter how it is done, a bridge will be burned and if you work in a small industry, the word will get out on what happened.

Fast-forward ahead to that time you are downsized, wouldn't it be nice to have the option of reopening discussions, but oh if only I hadn't closed that door. What if that hiring manager now works for another company? Well, cross them off the list too.

The truth of accepting counter-offers is that your risk is maximized, your reputation is soiled, and your reward is limited.

1 February 2011
Topic: Job Offers

Rate your pay - Guest post by Lisa Heacox

The following is a guest post by Lisa Heacox, which she originally wrote for Croplife. I was interviewed for it, and it has some great information. This is the first post in the series we'll be talking about this. Let me know if you have any questions.

See how your company compares in this snapshot of current retailer salaries and benefits.


LATER this year, CropLife will conduct its first-ever ag retailer compensation survey. But we wanted to talk to a few agriculture placement specialists to get an initial lay of the land. The scenery is, in fact, especially interesting this season in light of the economic challenges facing not only dealers but also the entire country.

Six months ago, search firms were working with a large number of ag companies seeking employees" and demand was not being met. But at presstime, the tables had turned dramatically. As farmers hold off on input purchases, so employers have been waiting on hiring. "The pre-pay market is way, way off this year, down around 40%, and some more than that," says Gary Weilbaker, recruiter, Eastern Cornbelt with Career Solutions Co. "A lot of companies are on hold mode. They're not really cutting positions,
but I've not heard of any adding or back-filling jobs that have become available. Or, they may have initially made plans to add head count, but they're not doing it."

So the pool of ag job seekers has swelled, and perhaps in an unexpected way. Weilbaker says many of these applicants worked in agriculture earlier in their careers, then left to go into manufacturing. They've lost those jobs or are looking to get back into agriculture.

In fact, "There's also a large pool of non-agricultural professionals trying to get in," says Weilbaker. "That's a little unusual. Normally, people not involved with ag don't want to have anything to do with it." And he says it's tough for these workers to break into our industry without a farm background or ag degree.

About The Money

Melinda Mullinex, HR services manager with, emphasizes that
top talent will always be highly desired, and managers are faced with the challenge of meeting the demands of a more experienced job seeker pool" plus a talented group of current employees. She notes current staff hold valuable job knowledge or even a "trade secret," plus the investment of time and money wrapped up in their training and development.

Several factors are key in keeping good employees, not the least of which is fair pay. Unfortunately for retailers, compensation levels in 2007 and 2008 appreciated a lot. "We were on a real steep climb," describes Weilbaker. That created challenges for established agribusinesses who had to pay talented new hires more than what current employees were earning" to the tune of $5,000 to $10,000 more. "It upset the whole compensation structure of the company, and there's had to be some readjusting
companywide," he says. The situation has flattened out just recently, he says.

When managers do get to talking about compensation, they reveal a wide
variation in what employees are paid. Weilbaker is amazed how often salaries don't correlate to the value a staff member brings to a company. "There are guys that are way, way underpaid" and some that are way, way overpaid," he says. Mullinex adds that dealers need to be creative if they don't have the money to pay more competitively. She has heard of companies offering retention bonuses, years of service awards, employee referral programs, additional paid time incentives, and gym membership reimbursements.

Bring On The Benefits

What do benefit packages look like these days? Here's a rundown.

Health coverage: Group plans are the norm, with a monthly premium of $150
for an individual and $300 for a family. Annual deductible for one person would be $500, $1000 for a family. Above-normal packages will lower the deductible to $250 for the individual and $500 for families" with no monthly out-of-pocket premium for one person and $150 for a family. While many Americans find themselves without health insurance, Weilbaker says 95% of the companies he works with offer coverage.

As a general rule, Mullinex would say that competitive employers pay between 60% to 75% of health premiums and higher than this figure would be "above scale."

Vacation: Two weeks is standard, though for more experienced employees, say
30-plus years old, three weeks is common.

Retirement plans: Companies usually offer 401K plans, with the employer
typically matching dollar for dollar 3% of an employee's contribution. In higher-end benefit packages, employers match 4% to 5% or more.

Profit sharing: More companies are creating profit-sharing pools. The plans
encourage longevity with a firm, since any money employees have invested for them returns to the pool if they leave before the 5-year mark. These programs are in offered in addition to 401K plans.

Incentive pay: Here, companies reward employees based on the value their sales bring to the company. The reward goes beyond a straight commission percentage. "It's not only the volume of product you're selling, but at what price you're selling it and what is the gross or net margin of that product or service to the company," explains Weilbaker. "If somebody is selling a higher value or higher margin product they get paid more than someone selling a lower profit product."

"We have heard from employers that have delivered bonuses and not base pay, or merit, increases," Mullinex says. "This is one way to reward strong performers without increasing your salary budget for the time being."

Commissions: In's survey, Mullinex says that approximately 41% of the 46 agribusinesses polled in their survey paid commissions. Solid and top performers can be rewarded with anywhere from 2% to 3.5% of their sales.

Company vehicles: For sales people on up, company vehicles" or at least car allowances" are provided. Mobile phone plans are also offered.

Education reimbursement: This benefit is particularly in demand by "our
Millennial generation of employees," notes Mullinex. It's not often offered, but can have a significant impact on an employee's job satisfaction: the message is that the employer is investing and building value into an employee's career, says Weilbaker. In fact, workers' ages play a role in the benefits they want most. Generally, employees under 30 years old look for compensation, perks, and job titles. In the 30- to 40-year-old age range, compensation, job location, and job stability are important. For employees in their 40s and above, health insurance, 401K plans, vacation time, company stability, and work load are valued. At this age, preferences often get more involved because workers have children, says Weilbaker.

"Job seekers and employees alike are looking for the reinforced message from your organization that their job will be secure and your organization is stable," emphasizes Mullinex.

Stay tuned for more this week on this topic! Thanks for reading!