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Talent Management Blog

January 15
Passion forms its own path

​I always knew my true passion was to serve others, but I had no idea where to begin finding a career path where I could make a big impact.  Here are four tips that are continually on my mind as I navigate my life and career.


1. Always Stay Curious

I had no idea what I wanted to do. When I was in Kindergarten, I recall very vividly wanting to be a mad scientist when I grew up. I thought each of these would be my career path at one point of my life: farmer, youth pastor, DEC officer, soldier. I researched and explored just about any career path that sounded good to me; I wanted to find my place. I knew I loved the outdoors and I knew that I wanted to make a difference. (Pretty cliché, I know).  Eventually I discovered that agriculture was the perfect fit for what I was looking for. With the help of a family friend, (who to this day continues to be a career mentor for me) I found my life calling. 


2. Take Risks

I needed a summer job and applied for a Seed Research Technician position at GROWMARK FS. I had zero industry experience, but I was ambitious. I had an insatiable desire to get out of my comfort zone, take risks, and succeed. I was hired and had an amazing summer with my first true exposure to agriculture. I was originally studying Criminal Justice at Buffalo State College, but ended up transferring into Morrisville State College's Agricultural Business Development B.B.A. program after that first summer. I refused to accept that I would be at any disadvantage not having grown up on a farm or having an extensive background in agriculture since this was what I knew I wanted to pursue.


3. Overcome Doubt

Without a traditional agriculture background and with my future goals of getting involved in the farm service sector, I did not want to be ignorant to the fact that I needed to be able to understand my future customers, the growers, and their needs and concerns. I ended up going to a local dairy farm in college and taking a job as a farmhand during my semesters there. Passion forms its own path. If the passion is there, you will be able to find solutions and form a path to be successful. In my case, I leveraged my soft skills, problem solving abilities, and work ethic to be successful in agriculture. Doubt from others (and even from yourself) is imminent if you are pursuing something new. True character reveals itself in the midst of trials like these.


4. Stay the Course

I have held numerous roles in my five and a half years in the GROWMARK System in both New York and Illinois.  I have been an Agronomy Intern, Customer Service Representative in agronomy, and most recently a University Relations Recruiter.  While for some it may look odd going from a technical role to now being in human resources at the corporate office, it made perfect sense to me.  I wanted to become a more well-rounded employee and leverage the skills and experiences I have had to succeed in the company and grow personally and professionally.  This career in agriculture has allowed me to serve others in so many ways, from addressing grower's issues in New York to helping manage the GROWMARK Internship Program and match passions with opportunities. In 2017, I took on a role with GOYA Ministries as an Agricultural Advisory Board Member and Co-leader on my second agriculturally focused mission trip in Nairobi, Kenya and the surrounding areas. Seeing firsthand how what I have learned could help address food security issues and feed starving children has been nothing short of life changing for me. 

If I would have let my concerns and doubts make my decisions for me in my career, I never would have been able to experience a fraction of what I have. Throughout my childhood, I was very unsure of the future, including my future career. I am still unsure of where this career path will take me, but I know that passion forms its own path into amazing opportunities.


By: Luke Martin 

December 30
5 tips to stay productive in the new year

​With the new year just around the corner, lots of us start focusing on the goals we want to set for 2018 and how we plan to achieve them.   To keep you on track as you progress towards your personal and professional goals, here are 5 tips you can use to maintain productivity during the new year:

  1. Explore new technology - For many, it's never an ideal time to learn new tech when there are a million other things you need to do.  What you may not realize is, learning new technology is important.  It helps you stay up to date on new trends, information and tools meant to make your life easier.  As a trainer, keeping up with new tech allows me to try creative new ways to reach my audience.  Consider Snapchat for example.  According to a Bloomberg report, Snapchat videos solicit 10 billion views per day.  This is a great way to spread brand awareness and showcase your culture, employee engagement and any other programs you're proud of.  If you want to see what we're up to in 2018, check out FS GROWMARK on Snapchat!   ​​​
  1. Make a list - The struggle of scatterbrain is real.  To make sure you stay on top of your tasks both at work and home, start making a to-do list.  To manage all the projects and committees I'm working on, along with my personal life, lists have served as a great tool to remind me what needs to be done, and where I need to prioritize my time.  If you need a place to start, check out Todoist.  A popular app that allows you to create, share and edit lists with others in real time. 
  1. Take advantage of the quiet time - While there are benefits in the socialization that comes with an office environment; loads of meetings and the general hubbub that accompanies a shared space can be distracting.  Since the holidays usually mean lots of people cashing in on their time off, the lack of distractions can be sheer bliss for you.  I love taking advantage of this time of year to plan out project work, wrap up loose ends or make some big strides on my 2018 goals.  For help you will your goal setting, planning and progression, check out the Goal Plus app.    
  1. Use your Volunteer Time Off (VTO) - I am proud to work for a company that encourages giving back, and provides employees with opportunities to engage in causes that are meaningful to them.  Take advantage of your company's VTO policy, and give the gift of your time this holiday season.  Aside from the intangible benefits such as pride, satisfaction and the sense of accomplishment that comes with bettering your community; volunteering can also help boost productivity in the workforce.  Volunteering with your colleagues encourages teamwork and collaboration, which are two skills that can improve the overall productivity and effectiveness of your team.  If you are looking for a great teambuilding activity, is a great place your team can go to find a variety of good causes to serve in your community.
  1. Organize your inbox - According to Huffingtonpost, a recent survey disclosed that on average, employees spend 28% of their day on email.  This was the largest amount of time spent on any of the workplace activities surveyed.  To work more efficiently in your email, here are a few features you can try: 
    • ​Folders – This is a great organization tool I use to move and retain messages.  It cleans up my inbox and makes it easier to find saved items
    • Rules - I love using rules to automate tasks I want Outlook to carry out for me; such as sending emails from a certain sender directly to a specific folder and highlighting items marked urgent so I don't overlook anything important.  
    • Disabling new message notifications - If you can't resist the temptation to check every new email you get notified of, you can easily turn off alerts.  In Outlook, click on the File tab, choose options, select Mail and then uncheck the box next to 'Display a Desktop Alert'.  ​

Do you have any productivity life hacks that you love?  Please share your comments below, I'd love to hear from you!  ​

Cheers to achieving your 2018 goals and wishing you a happy, healthy and joyful new year! ​​

By: ​Brittany Piepenbrink

December 15
'Twas the night before the interview...

​'Twas the night before the interview and all through your brain, ran thoughts of anxiety – will they think I am lame? You want to be prepared but aren't sure what to do. Follow these simple tips and you will breeze right through!

  • Do your research –Check out the company website for information about their business and financials. Most companies are also very active on social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Instagram. Be sure to check out those pages too as they often provide great insights into company culture and current events.
  • Play dress up – Have you ever heard that old adage, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have."? The interview is your opportunity to present your best self, and a crisp, clean, professional looking outfit will help you do just that. No need to go out and buy something new, but be sure you try on the outfit you plan to wear beforehand to make sure it fits and is wrinkle free. Nothing screams "I didn't put that much effort into this interview" like throwing on that old, wrinkled suit you wore to Great Uncle Larry's funeral 10 years, and 20 pounds ago.
  • Go for a test drive – Many companies have large confusing campuses, with multiple parking lots and entrances. If time allows, it's always a great idea to map out your route and go for a test drive in the day or two leading up to your interview. Knowing exactly where you are headed the day of your interview and how long it will take you to get there, will help keep some of those anxious feelings at bay as well as ensure you arrive on time.
  • Practice –Before you meet with the interview team, take some time to research general behavioral interview questions and think about how you might answer those questions if asked. Also, take some time to go through your resume and reflect on your prior experience. Taking a few notes on important accomplishments, projects you've worked on, even difficult situations you've navigated will arm you with great, real world examples of your work to discuss during the interview.
  • Channel your inner detective – An interview is not only a time for the company to learn more about you, but also an opportunity for you to evaluate the company, team and position. Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and be inquisitive about anything that interests you. In my experience as a recruiter I have seen interviews go from ho-hum to extraordinary due to the thoughtful questions posed by candidates. These questions can open the door for more in depth conversation and give the interview panel a peak into what is important to you. Fire away!
  • Mind your manners – You may think that sending a thank you note following an interview is passé, but think like Emily Post and always follow up with a thank you. While a handwritten note is nice, it's not required - an email will do the job as well. Taking the time to follow up with your interview panel re-enforces your serious interest in the position while giving you an opportunity to showcase your written communication skills. Also, during a long interview process receiving a note from you is a great way to keep your name top of mind with the hiring manager and recruiter.

With these tips in hand, you will be an interviewing pro. Practice and preparation will make you good to go! And GROWMARK Recruiting, we're here to help you get it just right – wishing prosperous interviews to all and to all a good night!

GROWMARK Recruiting wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday season!

Beth - Happy Holidays.PNG 

By: Beth Fannin

November 30
Lead Me. Coach Me.

Business leaders today have a lot of responsibilities. Not only are you expected to make decisions, deliver results, and manage people, you also have a responsibility to develop those people. The decision and results responsibilities along with human nature drives us to be fixers. When questions, issues and problems come across our plates we are quick to give the answer or fix the problem. However, the development responsibilities require that we stop fixing and do something else. Coach them.

Today's employees (regardless of generation) want coaching. It's one of the greatest tools that a leader has at their disposal for engaging and developing the people that look to them for guidance. Coaching can have significant impact on performance, morale, retention and goes a long way in creating new leaders for the future. Despite all these benefits leaders are not coaching as often as they should. According to a 2016 report from Blessing White, out of 1,800 employees and managers surveyed, only 1/2 received any type of coaching. But why? The main reason managers give, is they don't have enough time to coach. Many leaders feel like coaching is an added behavior they have to do in addition to their daily responsibilities. But it doesn't have to be that way.

As leaders/managers you are already having conversations with your people on a daily basis. What if you could use that time differently, to coach and actually (get some time back for yourself) by just tweaking one little thing? I bet you would do it, wouldn't you? Of you would. You want to be a coach. So here's how you do it. Ready? The next time someone comes to you with a question or a problem that they need to solve, instead of giving the answer, ask a question. That's it! "Surely it can't be that simple" you say. But it is. Coaching starts with being curious. Start broad and work your way down to the details. "Tell me more" is a great place to start. You could use a Who/What/Why/When/How question, like "How would you go about solving this." Then probe for details.

  • What else?
  • What could you do differently?
  • What's the impact?

Together you will brainstorm some solutions. Once they employee identifies the solution they are going to move forward with it's important to make sure they take action. Don't leave the conversation without establishing what it is they are going to do and when they are going to do it. This is most important. It provides an element of accountability. By asking great questions leaders can provide an environment for people to find their own solutions and develop themselves to their full potential. By doing so, the person being coached actually becomes more self-sufficient, creative and a better problem solver. 

Finally, to make this a part of your daily routine, you have to create a coaching habit. What I mean by that is you have to identify the behavior you want to create (asking questions instead of giving answers) and put a plan in place to practice and implement that behavior. Michael Bungay Stanier has a great book about this called The Coaching Habit. In it, he lays out a plan for you to create a habit of coaching that can be done simply and on a regular basis without adding time to your already busy schedule. I encourage you to check it out. 

By: Andy King

November 15
Black Friday and Black Holes

​It's 4:00 a.m. on Black Friday and you are up with the rest of the other manic shoppers trying to be first in line to get that hot gift of the season at a remarkably low price. There you are, face pressed up against the glass just hoping for a chance with hundreds of people behind you hoping for the same. The doors open and everyone starts pouring in, but you find out that hot gift you have been looking for is sold out so the store gives you a rain check. Before you know it, New Year's rolls around and you still haven't heard anything.

Looking for a new job can be just like Black Friday. You spend hours of your time prepping, revising your resume, and hoping you beat out all the other hopefuls. You hold your breath and hit submit on the application and then…..nothing. It's frustrating and you have to wonder if you are the latest victim of the HR black hole. You know, the one where you submit an application and hear nothing back. What can you do?

  • Don't be afraid to reach out to the recruiter on the position. If you have the recruiter's email address, great! If you don't, check them out on LinkedIn and send them a message. Let them know you applied and ask where they're at in the process. Seriously, it's perfectly okay to reach out.

  • Networking – Everyone loves to suggest it, but people rarely do it. Get out there and get connected with people in your industry and with recruiters at companies you would love to work for! It's a lot easier to reach out to someone you've met than to reach out cold. Bonus: This is also a great way to hear about amazing jobs opening up that you might be interested in!

  • Before ever submitting your application, make sure you've read the job description and that you are qualified for the position. Then, edit your cover letter and resume to include some of the same keywords from the job description that highlight clearly that you are a match!     

In the end, you deserve a response of some kind once you submit your interest in a position. Good recruiters aren't purposely leaving you in a black hole; they may just need a nudge from you. Don't let anyone "rain check" you when it comes to your professional future and your aspirations.


By: Megan Peterson

October 18
Creating something better together

Hello! Welcome to the GROWMARK, Inc. Talent Management blog. We have a mission to improve transparency between the recruiting and training teams and the public. In an effort to improve our communication to the outside world, we have created this blog. Here are a few topics you can expect to find on our blog in the future months to come:

  • Interview, resume, and cover letter tips
  • Keys to effective networking
  • Topics driven from current events, seasons, and holidays
  •  How our company diversity and inclusion efforts are progressing
  • Info about employee training programs
  • How technology and social media are used  to keep employees engaged
  • Advice during a challenging job hunt process

We are thrilled to bring this blog to life and committed to motivate you toward improvement in all professional pursuits. If you have a request regarding a certain topic you would like to know more about, please either comment on our blog postings or reach out to us at! Our subject matter experts are eager to respond to any questions you may have!


By: Tori Streitmatter

About this blog
No, this isn't actually my picture. I just haven't gotten around to updating this section. It's good to know that someone is reading every last word though. Thanks!