The Temple in the Forest

Author: Heather Lovell

I recently read a story about a young man who was talking to an older woman who had been married for decades. He bemoaned that he was still looking for his true love and not sure if he would ever find her. Wisely, the women answered that true love isn’t found; it is built. When ancient peoples looked for the spot for their cities, they didn’t look for an already built temple, the looked for a flat piece of field where they could build their temple.

After years in the field of talent acquisition, I believe hiring talent is the same.

Too often, hiring managers or HR leaders have a list of checkboxes that a candidate MUST have. They want someone to hit the ground running, to jump right in, to need no training, to produce in week one. They want to find that perfect temple in the forest that is perfect for their needs that takes no building on their part. Not only is that hard to find, but often isn’t really all that perfect for their unique needs either.

Instead, I encourage leaders to think about the temple they want to be built and what foundations are needed in order for it to be strong and secure. A field in the middle of the jungle that is flat, on good soil, near water, and has nearby protection and food sources is where you want to build your temple. A talented candidate with the right natural abilities, drive, positive attitude, and a strong base foundation that can be built on is what hiring managers should be focused on.

It does take a willingness of companies to do a little building. But I would argue that every new employee requires some training of the company’s values, industry, customers, and internal procedures so expect it and build an onboarding process accordingly. Most hiring leaders would agree they would rather have a quick learning, driven, go-getter with little experience, rather than a set-in-their-ways, experienced expert who can’t pick up new information. So why do we hire in a way that screens out people in the first group?

A candidate’s natural strengths, motivations, and innate abilities do not come out on a resume but are usually more important to job success. These are the foundation that a strong hire can be built on. Your company and your role are unique—taking the time to build the temple can create a team that you truly love.

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