slide image

What Caught My Eye: Beauty & Talent Take Many Different Forms

A series of weekly outside-the-box news stories and the lessons they hold for recruiters, by TAtech CEO Peter Weddle.

Camel pageant is among World Cup's sidelines attractions | AP News

They’ve been some of the superstars of the Qatar World Cup. Unlike Messi and Mbappe, however, you won’t know their names, even if you’re a football … or, as we say on this side of the Atlantic, a soccer fan. In fact, you can’t even see them from the stadium stands or during the televised matches. They’re participating in an entirely different content taking place 15 miles south of Doha, the Qatari capital.

This event, called the Mzayen World Cup, is being run in parallel to the matches on the pitch and features an entirely different lineup of stars. Soccer has been called “the beautiful game;” the Mzayen contest is all about beauty of a different sort. It is the penultimate competition for the world’s best-looking camels. And, unlike the World Cup, it’s held every year.

After a series of qualifying contests conducted earlier throughout the Middle East, 15 dromedaries made it into the finals, which took place last week. There are several categories of contestants, but the most popular is the one for pure-bred female camels. Beauty, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder, and these finalists have but one goal: to be seen as the most attractive and capable of all.

The competition is serious business for both the owners and those who attend, so each entrant is carefully examined to be sure no artificial enhancements have been used. Then, the contestants are paraded in front of the stands, where fans cheer for their favorites, and go toe-to-toe in a milking competition, carefully overseen by official judges.

It’s always a hard-fought contest, but in the end, a single victor has to be declared. And this year, it was a camel named Nazaa’a that took home the prize. As one news report put it, she “displayed not only dazzling beauty but also poise and grace,” proving once again, that beauty comes in many different forms.

What can recruiters learn from this event?

One of the biggest threats to effective talent acquisition is habit. It’s an understandable trait, of course, especially given the req load of many recruiters. With precious little time to spare, it’s just easier to fall back on what’s always been done, even if that means producing something less than the optimal outcome.

Habit is particularly harmful in sourcing. Today’s talent market is severely supply constrained, at least when it comes to the conventional definitions of talent. Recruiters, as a result, are deploying every innovation they can think of to reach top performers in new and different ways, but all too often, they are doing so only among the same cohorts of the workforce. That’s habit at work.

Habit, like handcuffs, can be undone, however. It’s not a trivial feat, but breaking free is possible with a clear plan that provides an alternative approach. And, the plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it simply involves recognizing that talent, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. The hard part is getting beyond just saying that or just acknowledging it as true, but if recruiters can actually commit to widening their field of view, they can see and reach talent in other forms.

What does that mean in practical terms? Recruiters can improve their outcomes by recognizing talent in such groups as the neurodivergent, formerly incarcerated and disabled. That’s certainly not a new idea, but let’s be honest. Tapping those alternative forms of talent gets far more attention at conferences and on blogs than in actual day-to-day recruiter practices. That’s the pernicious impact of habit at work, and recruiters will have to act with a truly broader perspective – they will have to change their behavior – in order to break it.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.