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Clicking a perfect bird photo’ is like ‘Clicking the top talent

I have compared Birding with Leadership Hiring on specific parameters

Clicking a perfect bird photo’ is like ‘Clicking the top talent

Monday July 16, 2018,

13 min Read


Clicking a bird picture in the camera frame in Birding portfolio is like Head Hunting a highly talented professional in Talent Acquisition portfolio. Like a Talent Acquisition professional, a birding photographer has to employ various tactics to bring the desired bird in the frame. It is like attracting the best talent for the company. 

Birds are among the most eye-catching and, beloved creatures, which have fascinated human beings from generations due to their colorful plumage, ability to produce a range of sounds, migration patterns, and various other behaviour patterns. This showcase birds intelligence & creativity.

Similarly, Talented Resources are among the most attention catching, spotted and 'must to have' resources, which have fascinated the corporate world due to their competencies & skill sets with proven track records. Last Sunday, I was patiently waiting at Bhandup Pumping Station (BPS) in Mumbai to click the migratory birds (Flamingos, Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail) of my choice in my camera frame Nikon D 500. 

It was long wait and patience for the migratory birds, which has generated an idea of putting thoughts together and compare Bird Watching with Talent Acquisition. In fact, I discovered many similarities between the two distinctly fields i.e. Bird Watching with Talent Acquisition. 

The former area is my passion and later area is my profession. Both are close to my heart. There is fine overlap / fine blend between passion and profession. Before I further dwell on this, let us understand the related words i.e. Bird, Birding / Bird watching, Talent and Talent Acquisition for clarity.

1. The bird is a warm-blooded "Feathered Bipeds" which is able to fly, walk, swim and wade according to their adaptations. The body of the birds is well designed for flight and has strong but hallow pneumatic bones, air sacks and strong muscles etc

• Talent is a natural aptitude or skill. It is a combination of Flair, Knack, Technique, Gift, Ability, Expertise and Capacity. It is an ability that someone is born with.

2. Birding / Bird Watching is an activity of studying birds in their natural environment for individual or professional needs. It is a process of identifying birds as per their Size, Colour, Shape, Field Marks, Behaviour, Flight, Habitat Preference and Calls

• Talent Acquisition is an activity of finding & acquiring skilled human resources for organizational needs. It is a process of identifying the right resource as per their Qualifications, Experience, Competencies, and Communication styles, Behaviour, Speciality, Function, Role, and Stability. A clear understanding that each talent acquired has something of value to offer today and/or tomorrow.

I have taken into account 14 parameters for comparing Bird Watching and Talent Acquisition based on the characteristics, sensitivity, a tactical and strategic point of view in mind; The parameters are;

1) Strategy, 2) Function, 3) Job/Profile Description, 4) Seasonality, 5) Approach, 6) Patience, 7) Time, 8) Reservoir of Potentials, 9) Putting it in frame, 10) Specific Choice of Bird, 11) Chance, 12) Head Hunting, 13) Technology and 14) Multi-Steps

1) Strategy

Birding: Each bird is unique so is the strategy to "frame the bird" of choice in the camera. If one wants to frame an exotic bird he/she has to strategically follow their route/ availability/breeding season/ migration pattern. If it is a normal bird, a simple visit to normal bird sanctuary is sufficient.

Talent Acquisition: Each Profile/ Professional is unique in itself so is the strategy. It will change at each level / cadre/ stage/ function and role. The question, then, becomes what one do to transition the talent from the initial point of contact to the moment they actually sign the contract and come on board to work for you.

2) Function

Birding is a function of attracting birds by Ornithologist. And, the person who clicks the birds is bird watcher or doing birding. It is a process of identifying, selecting, shooting and framing a bird in an open field to cover the Avifauna (Birdlife)

Talent Acquisition (TA) is a function of attracting talent for the organization. It is a process of sourcing, assessing, selecting, and putting on board employees in an organization. The person responsible for developing effective recruiting strategies and keeping talent reservoir ready for the future is a function of talent acquisition professional

3) Job / Profile Description

A detailed Profile Description of each bird is mapped. There are very fine differences in each bird and among the birds. A small patch or colour, voice differences will provide the insight about each bird. With the same family of birds, a single stroke below the eye or chest will be the different character of the bird.

Detailed Job descriptions are a clear, concise and communication tool which includes information on all aspects of a job, including pay ranges, job tasks, competencies, skill sets, reporting requirements and supervisory responsibilities. Job descriptions help job candidates to more accurately gauge their interest in different positions from the beginning. A well written JD can save time, money and hassle.

4) Seasonality

Season plays an important role in bird watching i.e. Migratory birds meticulously plan their annual trips in different parts of the world from cold places too much warmer places ( November to March). Birds travel often North and South along a flyway, between breeding & wintering grounds. Migration is driven primarily for the availability of food. The oldest recorded migration in the history is 3000 years. Birdwatcher always keeps a close watch on the seasonality e.g. Hornbill Festival in Nagaland in December, Flamingos in Mumbai around November / December, Painted Stork in Bharatpur from October to March and Spoonbill in Ranganathittu around January/ February. Whistling ducks in Sukhna Lake in February. Woodpecker/ Yellow-footed green pigeon in West Bengal around March/ April.

Although, recruitment happen throughout the year there are few times (season) in a year, in which, recruitment cycles peaks up. TA has to keep in mind mini peaking seasons i.e. PMS declaration (Probability is High), School timing of kids for relocation cases (Feb March and or Aug Sept). This is true for Large Megaprojects and IT sector. Not only has this, Talent Acquisition had to understand the quitting patterns also. Opposite to birding, summertime is the job change time for many employees looking for other opportunities.

5) Approach

There are many different techniques to approach birds. They have their "comfort zones" and if anyone tries to get any closer, they feel threatened and fly away. Different birds have different tolerance levels. The key to successful bird photography is to make the bird feel safe and natural.

Yes, in Talent Acquisition, approach plays an important role. The Talented people or potential resource also have their “comfort zone" due to various reasons and Talent Acquisition know it well "how to pull them from there" without breaking their comfort zone. It is a combination of science and art. Approaching directly thru own network & old database or indirectly through search partners. The key to successful Talent Acquisition is to make Talent feel proud of their achievements and acknowledge their contribution to the growth story

6) Patience

Birding teaches patience. One has to sit quietly and wait for the birds to come. Professionals have to wait for long hours to get the perfect shot. There are times when the birders have to have the patience for a couple of days/ weeks together to get the perfect frame.

Bringing talent tests ones’ patience. One needs to be extra patiently agile to bring in talent. Talent Acquisition has to present the scope of opportunities / show a larger picture to attract the best talent. It won’t be wrong in saying that “Patience is a virtue in recruitment”.

7) Time

Birding is a time-consuming activity. It takes much time to go to these calm places for birding.

Talent Acquisition is Time-Consuming too. It takes time for each leadership position to mature before rolling out an offer. From JD to onboarding is a journey of approximately of 3 to 4 months.

8) Reservoir of Potentials

Thousands of birds are roaming in the open sky. One has to identify the pool of potential birds that one wants to "put in the frame”.

Similarly, the pool of potential candidates is available in the corporate world, from which, a thoughtful selection should be made to fill the desired positions. Successful talent acquisition begins with proper predictive measures of talent refinery.

9) Putting it in frame

I love this word "putting it in frame". It gives tremendous satisfaction and morale boosting to shoot a bird, for which, one is waiting for long.

On similar lines, it gives tremendous satisfaction and sense of achievement to place a right professional in the right job at the right time.

10) Specific Choice of Bird

Birder has to make specific trips to click birds of his/her choice in their natural habitat like Bharatpur for cranes, Bhighwan for flamingos, Phansad for Asian paradise flycatcher, Kolad for dwarf kingfisher, Chila lake for seabirds, Pondicherry for painted storks, Jamnagar for multiple birds, Karnala for racket-tailed Drongo etc.

A recruiter has to make specific trips to talent zones to attract High-quality candidates, which are always in high demand. The recruiter has to move earth to acquire talent of choice, impress talent and treat talent well and give talent an excellent hiring experience.

11) Chance

There are situations when one is aiming for something and all of a sudden another bird comes to a frame. At that moment excitement goes up to capture it. Many times Birds come in front of camera screen on their own. You are aiming for something else and other birds come to give surprise click

The same thing may happen in Talent Acquisition also. Sometimes, one is working for one particular position but some other talent fits in better for the same position.

12) Head Hunting

Have to headhunt each bird to put in the camera frame. Have to use all means to get the "wow" factor. It involves self-convincing to head hunt the particular bird.

Head Hunting is the bedrock of Talent Acquisition. Have to orchestrate and maintain track records of the talented professional during their work life, and can quickly and precisely locate a suitable professional for a specific job requirement and convincing him/her to join your organization.

13) Technology

With latest technological cameras a far-flung click is possible. No need to go near to the bird for the perfect pic. One can enhance the picture quality and show bird more beautiful and colorful. In nutshell, make the bird more eye-catching.

With technology of conducting online (real-time basis) interviews, there is no need to meet candidate physically anymore. Psychometric test is also conducted online and even the reports are customized. Traditional classified advertisements and a job fair do not work in these days. Artificial Intelligence & social network based on technology i.e. LinkedIn, Instagram are working better for the best fit.

14) Multi-Steps

Birding is a multi-step process. One should equip oneself with a good pair of binocular, Camera, tripod. A bird lover will have to deploy shooting tactics into several stages.

Talent Acquisition is also a multi-step process i.e. mapping skill inventory, Job Posting, Screening, Interview, and Selection provides a deeper insight into the interested job candidates. Savvy recruiters break interviews up into several stages by involving multiple stakeholders.


Nature is the prime source of learning and inspiration. Bird Watching and Talent Acquisition prefer landscape i.e. Birder prefers open space and Talent Acquisition prefer canvas space.

I have established a positive co-relation between Bird Watching and Talent Acquisition. Understanding of one will give a better understanding of other areas. Passion and Profession go hand in hand and when passion and profession come together it gives tremendous results.

Not having passion or performance is wasteful life. Having performance without passion will burn out the individual fast. On the other hand, having passion without performance is meaningless or will limit to hobby only. Hence, the ideal is clubbing passion and performance. “Love what you do and do what you love”. The biggest learning from my passion is linking it with my profession on many fronts i.e. Trust, Patience, Care, Resilience, Tenacity, Reaction Time, Memory, Gut feel & Creative Thinking. It is quite interesting to know, “How Mother Nature has balanced the eco-system and magic of God”. I know now, that each bird & each individual is unique and we have to nurture it differently. Nature enables us to withstand the challenges and overcome the hardships in our lifetime. If there is one creature in nature which is a perfect example of this, it's undoubtedly the bird, with all its patience and perseverance; my eight learning from birds are;

1. Trust Oneself; A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch, but on her own wings.” Trust your intuition and your own inner guidance. Only you know what’s best for you. Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for your relationship with others. If you don't trust yourself, how can you trust others? Let your inner compass guide you where you’re meant to go.

2. Embrace Seasons; “How times and seasons are in concert! Spring is suggestive of the morning, summer of noon, autumn of an evening, and winter of night.” Birds thrive despite changes in environment/ seasons. Be fluid and go with the flow, trusting your abilities to find a branch the moment you decide to land on.

3. Accept Failures; “The bird that dares to fall is the bird that learns to fly.” Everyone has failed at something at least once in their lifetime. We need those failures in order to learn our strengths. Those failures help us grow and learn even more about ourselves. Failure is proof that you tried as an integral part of success. Keep trying until you get the solution you want. How will you ever know what are you capable of if you don’t try?

4. Self - Silence; “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” I learned how to communicate with one another not just with words but also with silence. I practice “Talk Less, Say More”

5. Flock together; “Birds of the same feather flock together.” Birds seek strength and sustenance from one another. Keep friends and family close by as you navigate in life.

6. Spread Wings; “Birds & People who love freedom have something common: They must fly freely to feel that they are alive” They’re majestic, graceful, and most of all, free. They can travel anywhere they want at any time they want to. That’s certainly something I admire. Until you spread your wings, you have no idea how far you can fly.

7. Keep Singing no matter what; “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” Think about how you feel when you hear your favorite song. It brings you to a state of mind where it is hard to express in words. Life is a song; sing it as you go along. Every part of this world is made up of sounds that can be considered a song. Birds keep singing even when it is raining. Why stop singing when there is a storm?

8. Unique is beautiful; “It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds” All birds are unique and beautiful; they come in all different shapes, sizes, and colours. All the interesting things are different and unique. The most unique birds are the ones that stand out and attract our attention. Your beauty comes from having your own style and living your own way. Be yourself. Be the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person that you are.