As another busy spring approaches, garden centers nationwide are preparing to fill thousands of seasonal labor positions. Part of the recruitment process will occur online, either through dedicated job search sites or calls to action on various social networking platforms.
Kathryn Dager, president and founder of Profitivity Inc., has helped restructure the hiring procedures of more than 100 family-owned garden retailers. While IGCs are best served by vetting potential employees in person, Dager says web-based solutions have their value as well, whether through direct recruitment or setting up meetings with applicants.
Some retailers use Craigslist to find part-time labor, emphasizing the work’s outdoorsy nature and people-centric atmosphere. However, Dager says that the customer service aspect of garden center jobs should get top billing in any employment posting.
“A worker may love plants, but they may not like people,” she says. “I’ve seen that kind of hire so many times.”
The job search website Indeed, which sources listings from thousands of employment boards and staffing firms, is suitable for screening management positions or specialist jobs such as landscape designers, greenhouse growers or marketers, Dager says. Industry-specific sites such as AgHires, Jobs in Horticulture and Hire Horticulture are additional options for IGCs seeking springtime help.
Hire Horticulture offers 30- and 60-day job postings from $99 to $209 per listing, as well as pricier package plans for IGCs advertising multiple jobs. An experienced recruiting staff polishes posts for maximum visibility, while providing interview tips to glean crucial information from candidates.
Garden center owners can publish a single posting on Jobs in Horticulture for $49, or get 12 months of unlimited postings for $3,000. A candidate database, pre-prepared screening questions and an internal activity log are among the features available to users. Job listings are also included in a print edition that is released twice a month.
Dager says IGCs must tap directly into the local community in pursuit of the best talent. Retailers could send recruiting flyers home with customers, but industrious owners can also publicize a custom hiring profile on Meetup.com or share a post on social media like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
“The post can [read], ‘If you love plants, people and working outdoors, we may be the perfect place for you,’” says Dager. “Then you let candidates approach you. The post is like a dog whistle indicating that this job is for them.”
Seasonal staffing at garden retailers increased twofold from 2012 to 2017, according to the 2017 State of the Industry report published in November by Garden Center magazine. Even with a consistent, steady market, IGCs must remain diligent in recruiting superlative hires, whether that effort takes place online or off.
“You can’t just hire someone on paper in this industry,” Dager says. “You have to see first-hand if a person is willing to do the specifics of the job.”