Purple Squirrels have one thing in common with Unicorns. They don’t exist. Purple Squirrels and Unicorns are expressions in the recruiting industry for a candidate that is a figment of the employer’s imagination. Essentially, Purple Squirrels and Unicorns exist only on paper in the form of an unrealistic job description.
Think of it this way. What if an NBA team set expectations that all new recruits must be 6’ 7” or taller, willing to accept compensation 20% below market, and must be able to perform backhand springs during half-time for an absent cheerleader. As ridiculous as this example may seem, many employers set unrealistic criteria that turns their hiring initiatives into a chase up a tree for a Purple Squirrel.
Here are three adverse effects that may occur while in the hunt for a Purple Squirrel.
1) Long, costly hiring processes – Not uncommon that a search for a Purple Squirrel may last a long time. After spending a lot of money and experiencing a frustrating hiring process, companies eventually realize that job criteria and expectations may need to be revised to align with reality of the candidate marketplace.
2) Positions go unfilled – If positions are critical to the growth of your company, having unfilled positions for long stretches can be costly in terms of lost revenue or reduced productivity. Sometimes these financial ramifications cost more than the salary savings of an unfilled role.
3) Pressure on existing staff – If unfilled positions push extra work to other staff members, turnover could occur due to stress, burnout or resentment. Consider hiring someone with less experience and train them, or hire a temp or contractor as a gap solution.
Examine the job criteria for your next hire. If your expectations have painted a picture of a Purple Squirrel, consider the following actions to bring your search into reality.
• Adjust criteria & expectations
• Raise the compensation package
• Expand search outside your industry
• Recruit outside your geographic area
Setting realistic search criteria at the start of your next hiring initiative will save you time, money and frustration. If you would like to improve your hiring results, give us a call at 317-578-1310.