Tree planting season in Canada only lasts for a few short months. When is the best time to start looking for a placement, and where should you look?
Tree planting companies (also known as contractors) have a very seasonal work year! The majority of businesses, especially the larger ones, do the majority of their work in May, June, and July. Occasionally, there may be a bit of planting work in late April or into August. However, that work usually goes to returning planters with a couple seasons of experience.
During the few months of the active planting season, things are very hectic! Once the plant starts, and in the several weeks leading up to the start of planting, these companies will be under a lot of pressure. Things like placing seedling orders, coordinating personnel, preparing camps and equipment, doing maintenance checks on all the trucks must all be done.
The pace doesn’t let up until a couple weeks after the last tree of the season is planted. All of the camps and vehicles and equipment have to be returned to the offices, cleaned up, and put away for the following season.
During the fall, many companies breathe a big sigh of relief and try to catch their breath. They start planning ahead for the following year, but it is still premature to think about hiring planters at this point. By late fall and early winter, the management teams get sorted out so the companies know who all the supervisors and foremen will be for next summer. After Christmas, sometimes as early as mid-January, companies will usually start thinking about putting together a labor force for their spring and summer work. If you are interested in getting a job as a tree planter, this is the time to start applying!
It is often pretty tough to get a job just by sending in a resume or job application by email. For a few people, however, this method works. You are likely to have some success using this method if you are one of the first people to apply after Christmas. You also might have some luck this way if you apply in late April or the first week of May.
Typically, all of the crews are fully hired by this point. However, it is fairly common for a couple people to drop out at the last minute. Let us say a hiring manager is sitting in the office during that last week of April. He gets a phone call from someone who says that they cannot make it. His first impulse is likely to go straight to the pile of resumes that people recently submitted by email. If yours is fresh and on top, you might get a call!
A second way to get a job is to check out job fairs at universities and colleges. A number of planting companies will send recruiters to these events in hopes of meeting potential applicants in person. This is an excellent opportunity to meet a recruiter in person, and for you to make a good first impression.
Don’t go to one of these booths all dressed to the nines. Say a recruiter sees you in a suit and tie, or in a fancy dress with heels and lots of makeup. They’ll probably immediately think to themselves, “This is not the sort of person who will fit in as a tree planter.” So how do you make a good impression? Simple: introduce yourself, act casually, and ask intelligent questions. Let the recruiter know indirectly that you are serious about getting a job. The first way you can do this is by demonstrating that you’ve already done your research. Ask questions that show that you have a basic understanding of how the industry works. Some examples of good questions include:
One final way to increase the odds of getting a job is to find a friend who already has experience planting. Ask them lots of questions to show that you are serious about wanting to plant. Ask them what company they worked for last season, and whether or not they’d recommend that company.
If they do, ask them if they’d be willing to help you to get a job. Many people who are friends of existing planters will get hired ahead of random applications from the internet, no matter how good those applications might be on paper. If an experienced planter recommends a new planter, the company assumes that they already warned the applicant about how hard planting can be and must think that the applicant is well suited for the job. It also means that the applicant has a mentor to help get ready for the season. So find a friend who has planted before, and try to use them as leverage to get yourself a job.
Some companies advertise tree planting positions on Kijiji or Craigslist. These are often the companies that are less reputable. The competition for tree planting jobs can be intense. Many businesses have far more applicants than they have job openings.
If a company is desperate enough to need to advertise on Kijiji or Craigslist, there must be something wrong. This is because they do not already have lots of good applicants knocking on their door. Do some research on the internet and learn about the pros and cons of a particular company before you accept a job offer. If you turn down a job offer from a shady company and wait for a spot with a good contractor, you’ll be better off in the long run.