ARLINGTON, VA — If you’re a team member on a growing food brand, you’ve got a lot on your to-do list. Odds are, finding the right people to propel your business forward tops the list.

But as the workforce landscape continues to change — and at times, feel like its falling into a sinkhole — it’s imperative that companies take the right approach to attracting talent. Because if they don’t, then someone else will. Let’s face it: In the workforce game, competition is fierce.


All this and more was tackled at an Emerge Network webinar, where Brian Curry, Eric Montgomery and Philip Veas of Fairfield Partners, an executive search firm, shared insights on the hiring process, what candidates are expecting and best practices to follow throughout the job search.

Fairfield focuses on recruiting talent for innovation-focused companies, many of which are in the natural food and beverage space. Previous clients the company has worked with include Bear Naked, KIND, Boom Chika Pop, Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle and Pretzilla. It’s safe to say the team has seen a lot change over the years, but not all the shifts they’ve witnessed have been due to COVID-19.

“The trends have changed a lot over the past few years,” Curry said. “Some of it is pandemic related, but a lot of it is just about competition going up.”


In addition to more people being on the hunt for personnel, requirements for candidates are getting more specific. The demand for industry knowledge is higher, and there is less emphasis on how quickly someone can catch on to new things.

“There is less room for the ‘good athlete’ that can catch up quick,” Montgomery said. “This could mean that companies are looking for someone who has experience in center store vs. perimeter, or even experience with a specific distributor. So, it really helps to make your requirements specific.”

Specificity is on the rise, and so is the need to be digitally diverse. Gone are the days where upper management has a team behind them doing the digital work such as data analytics. This can be challenging for those who are used to working on a bigger team and having support from those whose positions are entirely dedicated to digital products.

Fairfield has seen a lot of personnel from bigger CPG brands leaving their positions for smaller emerging brands, bringing a wealth of experience but not always prepared for the adjustment of fewer resources — both human and monetary. That’s why  inventiveness is a key element to look for during the hiring process.


“We are very fond of scrappiness,” Montgomery said. “We look for people who can do a lot with a little.”

When building the perfect job description, Curry said, clearly communicating the role’s requirements will benefit both parties. Fairfield often helps companies build a captivating spec through analyzing the brand’s ethos and then creating a parallel outline of the position.

“We build a story for a role based the company’s story,” Curry said.

Companies should also be prepared to pay accordingly, whether in salary or equity. Fairfield shared data indicating that salary ranges reached $300,000 and 3-5% equity for a CEO position; $190,000-210,000 and 0.5-1.5% for VP of sales; and $180,000-200,000 and 0.5-1.5% for VP of marketing.

“You need to make sure you are budgeting for a new hire and prepared with an offer and to be an ambassador of your brand,” Curry said. “Sell your future.”