How to Get Ready for Your Annual Performance Review

Fitbits for Cows - Who Does That?

Cage-Free Broilers: A Wise Move?

An Interview with Jim: Career Options in the Feed Industry



Every year is a new chance for us to become a better version of ourselves. Now many people may shy away from change because they fear the transition. These individuals may not be aware that they are stunting their own growth.

This year, let us change and evolve with the times. On the first month of the year, assess your strengths and weaknesses. Compare yourself with who you were when you first joined the workforce. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover that there is a big difference.

Continental Search embraces growth. We move forward to embrace change, hence our new look. We hope to provide you, our readers, with more insightful news in the years to come. Happy 2017 from your Continental Search family!

How to Get Ready for Your Annual Performance Review
By Dan Simmons, CPC

The annual performance review is something that many employees dread (as do most managers). The days or weeks leading up to it can be quite stressful. Never fear, I have compiled helpful tips to help you get through it without the stress and anxiety.

Prepare to Wow Your Employer
Preparation is the key to a stellar APR. Treat your annual performance review like a mini interview. While you are not interviewing to get hired, this interview will be the key to receiving higher compensation and may determine if you are ready for the next step up the ladder. What you say and how you conduct yourself will greatly affect the outcome. Make sure you follow the steps below.
  • Review Yourself First and Be Honest
A few weeks before the interview, conduct a self-audit and self-inventory. Make sure you remain as impartial as you can be. You have to make a list of your goals, strengths, and weaknesses. When you make the list of your weaknesses, you must have ways to improve upon them. During the interview, it would be best if you mentioned your top accomplishment and expounded on it.
  • Follow Company Procedure
You may need to complete forms mandatory for the review. There may also be optional forms that you can fill out, as well. Make copies of all the forms you have filled out and store them for your own records.
  • Talk About Your Goals
Discuss your professional and personal goals. It is important to include personal goals because your manager should know that a happy personal life leads to better performance at work. Discussing your life outside of work should not be taboo.
  • Ask Questions
This is not a one-sided interview. Employees may ask questions that they feel will be relevant to their growth. You can ask questions to find out the goals of the company, find out how you fit into the grand scheme, to help you understand what they expect of you moving forward, and to understand the direction they want to take.

These questions will show your employer that you mean business. It also shows that you are planning to be around for the long haul.
  • Be a Professional.
You may hear feedback that you will find difficult to accept or are unable to understand. Stay calm and avoid citing the failures of other co-workers to make yourself look better.
  • Offer Solutions, Not Excuses.
Handle the negative feedback with grace. Discuss problems in an impartial way. If there is anything you would like to bring up that might make your job easier, do so. Offer solutions, and that will impress your manager.
  • Get On The Same Page and Be Open-Minded. 
As the review comes to a close, try to get on the same page as your manager. Be open-minded about the merit increase you'll receive. If it is smaller than you had hoped for, perhaps it is due to budget reasons. Ask your manager for specific steps that will help you to secure a larger increase at the next review.

Carpe Diem
A positive review will build your confidence. It also provides momentum and optimism that will help you fight your way forward. The annual interview shouldn't be something an employee dreads. With proper preparation, you can make it the best review possible.
Dan Simmons, CPC, Sr. Recruiter
As Owner of Continental Search, Dan leads a team of 4 recruiters who search for talented leaders and solo contributors to fill positions for feed companies and their suppliers.

Dan has 25 years of experience recruiting and has worked in the animal nutrition industry since 2002.  Dan is a multi-award winning recruiter and also frequent speaker at universities and national events.  Visit Dan's LinkedIn profile for more information and relevant updates regarding the animal science industry.

Dan can be reached directly at (888) 276-6789 or at

Fitbits for Cows - Who Does That?
By Rick Pascual
I love looking for new innovations in dairy. I recently came across a video on America's Dairyland. It was a feature done by Wisconsin Dairy News about fitbits for cows.

Marieke Penterman was born and grew up in the Netherlands. She grew up on her family's 60-cow dairy farm. Marieke has a Bachelor's Degree in Dairy Business. Rolf Penterman moved to Thorp, WI to start his 350-cow dairy farm in 2002. Marieke followed him there a year later and currently specializes in making authentic Dutch Gouda cheese.

Their dairy farm is in good shape, as well, thanks to innovations that improve productivity. They use fitbits for their cows and it has done wonders for their businesses.

Attached to the ear and ankle of each cow is an electronic device that is linked to a main computer. It tracks the cows' nutrition, activity, and, rest. The fitbit tells you the eating time or rumination of each cow.

It monitors the ear temperature, as well. Cold ears are usually the first sign that a cow might be sick. Changes in eating patterns and activity are other signs of which to be aware. These will help dairy producers determine if special attention is required.

Without the fitbit, a person would have to do this manually, which can be a hassle, especially if the producer has such a large number of dairy cows. The fitbit activates when a cow strays from its usual eating and sleeping pattern or if its ear temperature drops or rises below normal.

According to Rolf Penterman, it has helped improve productivity, as it allows him to be more responsive to each cow's needs. The use of fitbits results in a healthier herd, as there is a less chance of other cows becoming sick and contaminating others that are near it.

Each cow has its own fitness monitor. The technology is far more advanced than those that are used in humans, though not as fashionable. This innovation will help simplify the process for dairy farm managers and producers.

With these innovations making things easier for entrepreneurs in this industry, more companies are deciding to expand their operations. This, in turn, means more jobs for people in the dairy field.

If you are in the dairy industry and want to take the next step up the ladder, follow #ContinentalSearch on LinkedIn and Facebook. You can visit our page to view a wide variety of dairy job openings. If you are not sure about what direction is right for you, send me an email at and I will help you find a position that suits your experience best.

Rick Pascual, CPC/PRC
Rick Pascual recruits in dairy nutrition for feed companies and their suppliers across the USA. Rick joined Continental Search in January 2015 and has successfully filled a number of searches for nutritionists, sales, and sales management for leading companies.

After completing coursework and a grueling exam, Rick became a Certified Personnel Consultant in November 2015, as well as a Certified Professional Recruiter by AIRS in April 2016. Visit his LinkedIn profile for more info and to stay updated with news about recent dairy trends.

Send Rick your resume at Call him at (302) 544-9288.

Cage-Free Broilers: A Wise Move?
By Trish Valenzuela
I wrote an article a few weeks back about how cage-free layers may be happier. Now the Humane Society of the United States has put the poultry industry on notice, according to an article by Catherine Boudreau on POLITICO.
"As we look to the future, our focus is likely to shift toward broiler welfare issues," the senior food policy director, Josh Balk, wrote in his letter to CEOs of major poultry companies. The aim was to extend an offer to talk to them privately.

Two large companies are taking the lead in the cage-free broiler game. Compass Group USA and Aramark have announced their plans to only source humanely raised chickens by the year 2024. They will start buying chickens raised in conditions that match the requirements stated in their 5-Step Program. These are companies that cater to cafeterias all over the country and one has to wonder how this will affect the poultry industry as a whole, aside from the obvious time, effort, new training, and resources that will have to be spent on changing the traditional method of raising chickens.

According to an article from LayWel, there are disadvantages that poultry companies will have to find ways around, if they can. Poor bird welfare and extremely high mortality can occur due to feather pecking and even cannibalism. Fractures may result due to collision damage with structures like perches and nestboxes. Not all birds will enjoy their fair share of food and water due to bullying and dominant birds. There is also an increase in the risk of internal parasites. Even the humans working on these poultry farms will be put at greater risk of developing infectious diseases due to contact with droppings.

The silver lining would be that the cage-free movement may offer more job opportunities, as more companies will expand their operations to include talent that has experience with this particular method of raising broilers. The poultry industry could experience a steady increase in growth and we couldn't be happier. Here is the link to the original article.

Are you looking for a new perch? Follow #ContinentalSearch on Facebook and LinkedIn. We have over 15 years of experience in this industry and have been able to place many candidates into job opportunities that have helped their careers grow. Check out our latest poultry job opportunities posted on our company page. If you have any questions, please send me an email.

Trish Valenzuela specializes in recruiting for poultry feed additive companies. She has filled positions in technical support, sales, and sales management across the USA.
Trish joined Continental Search in July 2015, and through hard study, she passed two certification programs. She is now a Certified Personnel Consultant and a Professional Recruiting Consultant. 

Send her your resume at or call her at (302) 248-8242. Visit her LinkedIn profile  to connect with her and stay updated with current poultry trends.

An Interview with Jim: Career Options in the Feed Industry

By Maria Codilla
Continental Search & Outplacement celebrates its 20th year anniversary this year. At this point, many recruitment firms find themselves at a standstill, relying on old strategies to remain relevant. Unlike other search firms, Continental Search it has survived and thrived by making use of the latest advancements in technology and research techniques in order to remain an important contender in their industry.

I decided to interview one of the key players of the company, Jim Hipskind, who handles recruitment for the feed industry:
"Our focus had been on the scientific (nutritionists) and sales people side for a variety of dairy-related feed and feed additive companies. During this time, we also began working with their feed mills and other AG-related companies in more manufacturing-related position. This was my area of expertise. 
"Feed mill operations are critical to the food industry. If no one is feeding the animals - then the animals cannot feed us. Mills generally come in one of two areas:  commercial mills that can feed a variety of species or Integrated feed mills that feed the specie they are raising.  Commercial mills will also range in size from the local feed mill to the industry giants like Cargill, ADM, and  Land-O-Lakes. Integrated mills are generally found in your major producers like Tyson, Smithfield, and Perdue."

Presently, Jim helps place feed mill managers in both commercial and integrated companies. He also works to fill other managerial level positions found in the feed industry.
When asked if it is a lucrative industry Jim says lucrative is best defined as stability. As mentioned earlier, someone has to provide the feed that allows producers to grow their stock. Taking that to its logical conclusion - as long as people want to eat - feed mills will need to be running. Mill managers traditionally make a good salary and if they are with a large enough organization, they can enjoy opportunities for advancement. However, it is also an AG-based industry and you should, "Please remember that any agriculture-related position means hard work. You need to have a passion for it.You need to want to do it," Jim adds.

When asked about growth potential, Jim swears by performance. Advancement is going to depend upon your level of passion and your ability to meet and or exceed expectations. Unless you get a Mill Management degree from Kansas State University,you will likely begin your career as an hourly employee in a feed mill.  From there, you'll grow into supervision and eventually into mill management. You can then progress in your career as your goals dictate.
How do recruiting firms help employees looking for greener pastures?
According to Mr. Hipskind, firms are always talking to potential employers in their niche. "We know the companies out there that we want to deal with. We have a pretty good handle about who's looking for what. I would contact a recruiter who specializes in the feed industry." Firms like Continental Search can generally help the active job seeker navigate through all the noise and find the position that makes sense for their career.

When asked if he has any advice that he can give individuals who are new to this industry and hope to enjoy a stable and fulfilling career in the future, he says it's necessary that you have passion for what you want to do. This applies to people in general, no matter what industry you're in. You have to want to do it.
"You want to be a student to your industry and want to learn as much as you can about the job," said Jim. "You want to be able to talk to your boss. If your goal is your boss's position, you need to talk to him or her about how they got there and what you need to do to get into a similar position.
"Depending on what industry you're in, you may need certain educational requirements to be considered for upper-level positions. Find out company requirements. Each industry and disciplines within those industries can have specific industry/job related certifications. Find out what they are and get those certifications. You will learn more about your job and your industry as you do. 
"You want to know what's expected of you. Go the extra mile and exceed those goals. When you start a new job, you have one job to do. That job is every day when you go to work, you need to reinforce in the hiring manager's mind that they made the right decision to hire you."
Jim also states that you need to treat your resume as a living and breathing document. It changes as you change. "When you start a new position, sit down and bring your resume up to date with the new position title, along with your new duties and responsibilities. Then as you accomplish those things that exceed those duties and responsibilities and exceed expectations, add those to your resume. Then the next time you are due for a promotion OR it is time to change jobs,you already have all the information you need to make your case for the next level."

The feed industry will be around for as long as there is a demand for food. With new players getting into this industry and old companies expanding, feed recruiters like Jim will always be in search of people to fill these positions.

At present, there is a rather large number of available positions that need to be filled. If you are looking for a job in this industry, let Jim help you find a position that suits your unique skillset. You may reach Jim Hipskind at

Maria Codilla
Maria Codilla is a Talent Scout for Continental Search. She handles direct-to-farm dairy placements. She is also Content Manager for the Animal Science Monitor. With her background in medical science and nutrition, she will make a great addition to the team. To find out more about the job openings for which she recruits, you can reach her at or at 302-257-2008.

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