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In Search of the Purple Squirrel
In Search of the Purple Squirrel
The so-called purple squirrel is the candidate of your dreams. He or she has a resume that is so well-written you can tell they will be an amazing fit just from what you read; lives in an area that you find to be just the right distance; answers your call as though they had known you forever; blows you away in the interview process; passes all of the skills assessments you require with flying colors; has more knowledge than is even required; is well-qualified, ethical, hard-working, experienced, polished, adept in the latest technology; a team player as well as independent contributor; has incredible presence, a positive attitude, and the right kind of personality that fits in your department/company; and of course, this candidate falls into the exact salary range you are looking for or lower! And the bonus is that this person attended top-rated schools, earned high marks and achievements, played competitive sports and interned every summer. This amazing person will lead you to the best quarter you and your team have ever had, will work extra hours and never say anything other than they love doing it and has nothing outside of their job that is more of a priority. If you have found a candidate that possesses each and every one of these qualities, then you have found yourself the perfect Purple Squirrel candidate!
So what has led to the idea that the purple squirrel exists? Why have companies held out for the elusive purple squirrel? There are a few reasons:
• Hiring managers believe that a resume shows the entire package and more often than not it does not; nor does it reflect the candidate’s drive or enthusiasm. Most people are not professional resume writers and do not understand how important it is to highlight their professional or educational accomplishments.
• Unrealistic expectations of candidates - Companies are asking candidates to have years of experience with technology that simply put, has not been in existence for the amount of time they expect the candidates to have experience. Always a jaw dropper!
• Indecisive hiring managers- Hiring managers often do not always truly understand the temperature of the market that they are in. There are employer-driven markets and there are candidate-driven markets, and interviewing and hiring in each is dramatically different. In the candidate-driven market we are in right now, great employees go fast! Interviewing and thinking that a solid candidate will just wait around because your company is so amazing is not realistic. We are not all the Facebooks and Googles of the employment market.
• Hiring Managers are inept at interviewing candidates because they do not have a firm grasp on the qualifications they are looking for or how much of the intangibles really should weigh in on whom they hire for the right fit for their company’s culture and values. Each time they interview, their qualifications change with both candidates and with the recruiters they are working with, expecting to find the one true fit, the one perfect purple squirrel.
• CRAZY long process to pull the trigger on a hire. Wake up! This is not a positive hiring experience, and yes, it is a reflection of how they will be treated on your team. Candidates get frustrated at having to fill out long applications and send in resumes that result in zero response. The process just to be submitted or registered to someone’s internal system is very time-consuming. Then think of the next step just getting the interview, add in getting a response about how the interview went, and that is no guarantee that they have the job. These candidates just want to know the next step in the process. If they are a no go, be candid that they are not the right fit and even offer some helpful hints to them or the recruiting professional who is representing them that might benefit them in their next interview. If you are on the fence – bring them back in to meet with someone else so there is movement in the process, and if you like them, don’t let them leave without sharing with them what to expect next.
• Compensation- Expecting a qualified candidate to leave a current full-time position to accept a job opportunity less than what they are currently making is a clear way to keep the job unfilled, yet employers repeatedly employ this tactic. What eventually ends up happening is that the position remains unfilled, and other employees are asked to pick up the job responsibilities of that position creating more of a burden than a solution.
Is Your Company Holding out for the Purple Squirrel?
Take an honest evaluation of what you are looking for in the roles you are trying to hire for today. If it’s a purple squirrel that you search for and are having little to no luck finding, it might be time to revisit your WANT TO HAVE’s vs your MUST HAVES. No candidate is ever going to meet all of your qualifications, however, everyone should leave your company with a positive candidates experience whether they got the job or not! When they do not, they move on to opportunities that take less time to get hired, again, leaving the initial companies waiting for the purple squirrel.