A horse farm is a business and therefore it must be run like one. If your horse business has grown you will certainly get to point where you will need to hire some help. Taking the necessary time in the beginning in order to understand this process of hiring for horse farms can save you time and money. Repeated employee turnover or hiring someone who is not a good fit for the position can result in increased unexpected operational costs. Finding the right people to help on a horse farm may be one of the biggest challenges. That’s partly because a limited availability of candidates with horse experience. Another reason is that the rate of pay in the equine industry is usually lower in comparison to other fields of work. Because much of the work on a horse farm is unsupervised you will also need reliable and trustworthy employees with good work habits.
Of course, there is no such thing as the perfect employee. However, for a profitable horse farm business owner it is important to select people with good work ethics and attitudes. You need to screen for bad habits because more than in other industries, on a horse farm people with good attitude are important. Even if they are weak on skills and work experience, they can always be trained for the job. On the other side, people with good skills and experience but bad attitudes can often have a negative impact on the business.
As in any job vacancy a job application, resume, and a short job interview will be required during the hiring process. Here are 10 tips for hiring for horse farms:
- Write a job description – You need to include in your job description a job title, required qualifications, and functions to be performed. There are various positions on a horse farm and your vacant position might require more people skills or more horse skills. For instance, in case that you need barn help, the future employee will need to turn horses out, muck stalls, perform occasional horse farm maintenance tasks, and interface with boarders. Required qualifications for this position are: horse knowledge and experience, genuine interest in horses, good customer service skills, capable of lifting at least 50 pounds.
- Determine a competitive pay rate – You will need to find out what is a competitive going rate in the industry for your horse farm vacancy. You can check the minimum wage with the Department of Labor and competitive pay rates offered by other horse farm employers on different employment boards. You will also have to decide what kind of pay scale you will use: per horse, per stall, per hour, or per day rate.
- Advertise the position – You may advertise your horse farm vacant position on various publications that reach the horse industry and your geographic area, on job boards and specialized websites. Your job position ad must include the person to contact, the means to reach that person, and the job description. You can also advertise the position among your friends, colleagues, and clients. Someone might know a person suitable for the job or might pass the word along.
- Interview in person your candidates – Spend some time considering the important things you need to know before you hire and write down a set of questions that you use in the job interview. Do not forget that there are some discriminatory things that are illegal to ask. Typical questions for a job interview might include: why does this job appeal to you; previous experience with horses; what are your strengths in a work situation; what are your weaknesses; describe how you would perform a specific job function; where do you see yourself in one year. You may also create a high stress or an emergency scenario and ask the candidates how they would respond to the situation. A good idea is to also ask for references from previous job positions.
- Does the applicant show punctuality at the interview? As you will expect punctuality on the job every day, lack of it at the interview might be a deal breaker.
- Is the applicant dressed up properly? The way your employees dress up affects your business image. If a candidate for the job has offensive tattoos, unconventional body piercings, or a sloppy general appearance is better to not bother hiring him.
- Does the candidate have his own reliable transportation? As most of the horse farms are in rural areas with lack of public transportation you might need to consider for the job only candidates that have their own vehicle.
- Lack of enthusiasm for animals in general and horses in particular – This could be an obvious problem for someone who wants a job on a horse farm.
- Poor listener – A good candidate should have good communication skills and show signs of listening carefully of what you say during the interview. An important job requirement on a horse farm is carrying out your directions.
- Lacking good manners – A good candidate should not show impolite habits of crude behavior.