If you’ve ever maintained your own yard or garden, you’ve likely encountered a weed or two, here and there.

Weeds don’t have a very positive reputation.

They show up unexpectedly and look out of place with the rest of the landscape. So the natural response is to do what we can to eradicate them and prevent them from returning.

Contrast that with rolling hills, prairies, pastures and fields filled with wildflowers. Such lovely and natural beauty of the great outdoors. Wildflowers are almost always viewed as pleasant enhancements to the environment.

The interesting thing is, aside from location, weeds and wildflowers are the essentially the same type of plant life.

Weeds have the misfortune of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet, wildflowers fit right in with the scenery no matter where or when they sprout up.

When you think about this it’s analogous with the way most of the talent acquisition practitioner community views talent.

So-called “active” job seekers are almost always considered intrusive and unwelcome just like unattractive weeds. While the so-called “passive” (non job-seeking) professionals are often found to be appealing and worth picking and placing on the table as a centerpiece.

These ingrained beliefs about talent quality are routinely reinforced in variety of ways.

Whether it’s search firms’ claims of finding the “un-finable” or perpetuating the platitudes that the “best and brightest” talent is already working elsewhere and must be convinced to make a move – proximity and accessibility is what creates the impression of value or lack thereof. They say “there’s a time and place for everything”, except apparently appearing to actively seek employment.

When a person actively pursues a new job opportunity by applying online, or posting a resume on a job board, or even announcing his/her availability to his/her network, his/her bloom tends to fade.

By being right there on the front lawn he/she evolves from wildflower to weed in an instant. Meanwhile, there are plenty of prickly or poisonous varieties of wildflowers protecting themselves from being approached just through happenstance of being out in the middle of nowhere. The irony here is if the growing conditions were swapped, those same wildflowers would have the capacity to wilt and wither and their weed counterparts would thrive.

Next time you explore the talent market, make sure you don’t overlook blossoms of all types even those found right in your own backyard.

It could just be an optical illusion that makes wildflowers in the distance appear more exotic than those weeds you pass while checking the mailbox. Instead of yanking them out of the path, squashing them with your boots or squirting them with toxic chemicals, try thinking about the possibility that they too could be the makings of a glorious arrangement in your talent bouquet.



Guest blog post written by Kelly Blokdijk. As a talent optimization advisor Kelly’s professional background “Creating a Voice for Talent” includes 10+ years experience offering exceptional human resources, organization development and recruiting support to diverse organizations.

Dandelion Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net