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What Caught My Eye: Marshmallow Planets, Gum Drop Candidates

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

We’ve entered the era of planetary weirdness. Or, more accurately, a time for thinking outside-the-box when it comes to what planets should look like.

Most of us learned about planets from grade school introductions to those in our own solar system. Thanks to recent ever-deeper observations of the universe, however, we now know that most (and maybe all) planets out there in deep space are unlike Earth, or Jupiter and Mars for that matter.

So, meet TOI 5737 b. It’s a planet with the consistency of a marshmallow. It makes the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters seem almost normal. Think of it as a huge puffy blob floating in space.

This newly discovered planet is actually an exoplanet or a planet outside our solar system. It was recently spotted by the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. Scientists don’t yet have any explanation for its confectionary consistency, but I think the name they’ve given it – TOI 5737 b – understates its uniqueness, so I’ve dubbed it Marshmallia.

How could it exist?

Well, Marshmallia circles a red dwarf, which is a type of star that is much smaller and dimmer than our sun. As a result, it has fewer of the heavy elements that can spin out and coalesce into a rocky core in space. That core, in turn, is what attracts a coating of space debris and other matter that builds up into planets like the Earth.

So, the planets of a red dwarf solar system definitely look different than “normal” planets and often behave differently as well. Any yet, they are in fact planets, and if some day, we have the means to travel to and explore them, I suspect we’ll find they are, in their own way, as wondrous and engaging as the blue marble we call home.

What can recruiters learn from this marshmallow planet?

Historically, recruiters have repeatedly targeted the same kinds of candidates when sourcing for their openings. In their defense, hiring managers haven’t exactly been Shakespeare when describing their ideal candidate. Indeed, their most frequent request has been that recruiters bring them candidates “just like Joe or Jane,” the person whose departure created the vacancy in the first place. It was hardly scientific, but in a job market filled with job seekers, even a crude target demographic was sufficient for success.

Those days are gone forever, of course. The job market is now the tightest it’s ever been. According to DOL’s JOLT report, there are now just 65 job seekers for every 100 open jobs. In effect, we’re in a “zero sum talent exchange.” Every person hired by one employer takes an employee or prospect from another employer. There simply isn’t enough supply to meet the demand … unless the supply is increased.

How can we do that? Look for gum drop candidates. Like marshmallow planets, they’re different from what we have experienced as the “norm.” They often won’t resemble traditional candidates or behave in customary ways. They are, however, capable of doing the work that needs to get done or can be trained to do so.

Who are these gum drop candidates?

They are those individuals who have had nontraditional career paths and educational experiences. And they are also the disabled, neurodivergent and formerly incarcerated. They don’t fit the mold of previous hires, but they are interested in your organization’s mission, aligned with its values and committed to making a contribution. They are, in their own way, every bit as wondrous and engaging as the candidates who have been hired in the past.

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.