What is a Purple Squirrel?
The term "Purple Squirrel" refers to a candidate profile that possesses skills and experiences that are thought to be so rare that they are almost mythical. They meet all of the job requirements and are capable of performing the duties without hesitation. It is extremely difficult to locate a purple squirrel. Purple Squirrels can be pink (passive candidate) or have wings (active candidate).
Pink squirrels are preferred because they are likely to be happy, engaged, and productive employees who are elusive and open to new activities but haven't invested a significant amount of time in looking for work. Pink squirrels are not looking for new employment.
How to Find a Purple Squirrel?
Finding a purple squirrel can be a challenging and time-consuming process. Here are some steps typically taken by employers in their quest to locate such rare candidates:
- Define Precise Requirements: Clearly define the specific skills, qualifications, and attributes needed for the role. This includes both hard skills (technical expertise) and soft skills (communication, leadership).
- Utilize Networking: Leverage professional networks, industry associations, and personal connections to identify potential candidates who might fit the criteria.
- Online Job Portals: Post the job opening on specialized job portals and professional networking sites to reach a broader audience of potential candidates.
- Headhunting: Engage professional headhunters or recruiters who specialize in the industry or field to actively search for suitable candidates.
- Use Advanced Search Tools: Utilize advanced search and filtering options on job platforms and LinkedIn to narrow down potential candidates.
- Consider Relocation: Be open to candidates who may need to relocate for the position if finding a local candidate is challenging.
- Competitive Compensation: Offer competitive compensation packages to attract top talent, as purple squirrels are often in high demand and may have multiple job offers.
- Assess Cultural Fit: Ensure the candidate not only has the required skills but also aligns with the company culture and values.
- Consider Training: Be open to candidates who might not have every required qualification but show a strong willingness and ability to learn and adapt.
- Patience and Persistence: Recognize that finding a purple squirrel may take time, and persistence is key in the search process.
What are the Challenges in Hiring Purple Squirrels?
Finding and hiring a purple squirrel comes with its own set of challenges:
- Scarcity: Purple squirrels are extremely rare, making them hard to find in the job market. The scarcity of candidates with such specialized qualifications can lead to prolonged recruitment processes.
- High Demand: Purple squirrels are often in high demand, as multiple companies may be vying for their expertise. This can result in bidding wars and drive up compensation expectations.
- Budget Constraints: Meeting the compensation expectations of a purple squirrel can be challenging for some organizations, especially smaller ones with limited budgets.
- Overqualification: In some cases, purple squirrels may be overqualified for the positions they are being considered for. This can raise concerns about whether they will be satisfied with the role and stay long-term.
- Retention: Even if a purple squirrel is successfully hired, retaining them can be a challenge. They may continue to receive tempting job offers from competitors.
- Diversity and Inclusion: The focus on finding such specialized candidates may inadvertently lead to a lack of diversity in the workforce, as the pool of purple squirrels tends to be limited in terms of demographic diversity.
- False Positives: Sometimes, candidates who appear to be purple squirrels on paper may not perform as expected in the role, highlighting the importance of assessing candidates thoroughly beyond their qualifications.
- Longer Hiring Timelines: The search for a purple squirrel often takes longer than traditional hiring processes, which can lead to delays in filling critical positions.
- Impact on Team Dynamics: The presence of a purple squirrel within a team may disrupt dynamics, especially if team members perceive them as a threat or feel overshadowed.
- Succession Planning: Overreliance on purple squirrels can hinder succession planning and the development of internal talent.