A Gardener’s Guide to Recruiting: The Hummingbird Garden

Gardening has made me a better recruiter. My nature is impatient but a garden cannot be forced. A rose won’t bloom in winter and a sunflower won’t grow in the shade. Gardening and recruiting both require an ability to identify the conditions needed for success. In recruiting, part of my job is identifying where someone will thrive and what environment may not be the right fit. Every garden has its gems–the inhabitants that make it special. Similarly, every company has its rockstars–the top performers who innovate and set it apart.

Hummingbirds are often the holy grail for gardeners. They fly in and fly out so fast that they can be easily missed. As a gardener, I know what to plant to attract them and I’ll obsessively keep watch to spot them. As a recruiter, I’m always scouring for the special gems who will transform an organization, make it unique and special. In the same way that a gardener plants certain blooms to attract hummingbirds, there are things a company can do to appeal to the kind of candidates they want to attract.

A gardener works and plans long before anything blooms. Even during winter storms and summer droughts a dedicated gardener is always planning. Life is unpredictable and bad markets come and go. During good times, when everything is lush, it can be hard to imagine a drought with the birds and flowers sparse. In bad times, it can seem like nothing will bloom again. It’s vital to remember that there are always opportunities.

In challenging times, save your seeds, identify what is likely to grow, and realize that something may come available that can transform your garden. As a recruiter, this is a time when companies have a rare opportunity to engage with talent that at another time may be out of reach. Like the hummingbird though, the best talent is rare and in demand. They also can be gone before you know it.

Avatar photo

Kelly Herrick

Kelly Herrick is the founder of Searchlight, a digital recruitment firm specializing in media, advertising, and emerging technology. Originally from Texas, Kelly has made NY her home and lives with her husband, son, dog, and three cats in Westchester.