Don’t hire the ‘Purple Squirrel’

‘Purple Squirrel’ is a term used by employment recruiters to describe a candidate with exactly the right education, experience, and qualifications that perfectly fits a job’s multifaceted requirements.

Theoretically, this prized ‘purple squirrel’ could immediately handle all the expansive variety of responsibilities of a job description with no training and could allow businesses to function with fewer employees.

Gordon Johnson, recruiting expert and author of Recruit Your Life, Lessons Learned from Years on the Road, says that most recruiters now know that this perfect candidate should not be hired because he or she would be disruptive to the organization because the candidate oftentimes lacks “people skills.”

“Once hired the ‘purple squirrel’ candidate would talk in a condescending manner to fellow coworkers and create productivity problems within the organization,” said Johnson. The implication is that the perfect candidate is as rare as a real-life purple squirrel.

“We live in an age of increasing competition,” Johnson said. “Outsourcing, off-shoring, globalization and the Internet have fundamentally changed the employment game, and that means you have to change your game as well. Doing the same things as everyone else and hoping for a better result isn’t going to get the best results.”

“If you’re a recruiter,” said Amy Onorato, “you’ve definitely heard this one. Purple Squirrels are those absolutely perfect hires. They meet all the requirements for your job and can do your job no questions asked. But they’re hard to find (if they even exist at all) so don’t sink all your resources into the hunt.”

According to Onerous Ethic: “For all practical purposes, there is no such thing as a ‘purple squirrel’—not in nature and not in the job market. It is a metaphor used by recruiters to identify the unrealistic expectations of a client company” (Ethic, Urban Dictionary, 2010).

The implication is that the perfect candidate is as rare as a real-life purple squirrel.

We live in an age of increasing competition. Outsourcing, off-shoring, globalization and the Internet have fundamentally changed the employment game, and that means you have to change your game as well. Doing the same things as everyone else and hoping for a better result isn’t going to get the best results.

You can spend thousands of hours scrutinizing job boards and submitting your resume to online postings without generating any tangible results. If you have gone down this path, you know exactly how inefficient and ineffective that approach can be. It simply doesn’t work anymore, according to Michael Junge.

If you really want to create employer interest, the emphasis has to be on the other side of the equation. You have to take the attention off of yourself for long enough to focus it on your audience-the people searching for talent-and understand exactly what it takes to attract, capture and hold their attention through the hiring process.

Most importantly, you know that the traditional way of doing business isn’t working, that’s why you are reading this article. What you probably don’t know is what to do instead. That’s where Purple Squirrel by Michael B. Junge, michaeljunge.com comes in.