Have you seen a purple squirrel? Not a photoshopped one – a real-life purple squirrel? Believe it or not, experts say they exist, and in fact, several of them have been spotted in the past 2 decades. These creatures are so rare, it’s understandable why they are almost mythical. The term «purple squirrel» has thus taken on a new meaning with regards to recruitment – it is a recruiter’s dream to obtain a purple squirrel i.e. the perfect candidate. This purple squirrel has it all – optimal education/knowledge, the perfect range of qualifications and the right amount of experience, all fitting a job’s requirements. Having all these attributes is pretty much a fantasy. It’s as impossible to find this ideal candidate, as it is to run into a purple squirrel in the forest.

Websites are available for employers/companies either searching for a purple squirrel or candidates attempting to test themselves and see if they are in fact, the unique, magical purple squirrels, themselves. Companies such as Google are known to keep positions open for months on end, hoping that these purple squirrels will eventually appear and apply. The question is, is it worth it? Is holding a job opening vacant, in the hopes of a mythical candidate, worth the wait? Is it worth the potential loss of talented and skilled individuals that may not currently possess all of the ideal attributes?

Being on the other end of the recruitment process, it is easy to get caught up in this fantasy trap, but I feel we must never fully get lured into the fantasy in the first place. If a purple squirrel comes along, great, but generally, don’t hold your breath for these types of candidates.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid waiting for a purple squirrel: 

Finding the talent:

Focusing on finding capable, not top talent, where the candidate’s future potential is evident.

Perfecting the current workforce:

Instead of waiting for a purple squirrel, invest in the overall knowledge i.e. education of current employees, thus creating an in-house purple squirrel.

Be realistic:

Does the job in question really require all the skills noted? Does the job opening set itself up for failure? Is the job opening actually (unconsciously) a disguised hunt for a purple squirrel?

In the end, it’s important to understand that the purple squirrel is not a measurement of one’s success. It’s mostly a mixture of luck and current market trends. Each individual is unique and special, and each and every one of them has certain skills that we may not even be aware of, and that can be further developed, once they have started working with us. CVs and ideal knowledge capital don’t have to mean that the individual is in fact an ideal fit for the job or the company’s culture. Sometimes it’s the combination of several individuals working together that creates tremendous results.

About the Author

Nina Čengić is one of the Talent Managers at Atlantbh. She has always been interested in talent management and the development of human potential, leading to her master’s in Human Resource Management. She is currently involved in the selection process at Atlantbh where her goal is to provide more attention and care to each and every individual.

All information in this specific blog represents the personal opinion of Nina Cengic and does not necessarily reflect that of Atlantbh.

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