Perfection vs. Progress: The Purple Squirrel Hiring Dilemma

Avoiding the Purple Squirrel Trap

Because your employees are your business’s greatest asset, you make it your mission to employ only the best. When preparing to hire for an open position, you go to great lengths to write a job description listing all the requirements and skills your ideal candidate should have.

But does the dream candidate only exist in your dreams? Would it take a creature so rare and specific that it’s impossible to find? In other words, are you hunting for a purple squirrel?

What is a purple squirrel?

Recruiters call an elusive candidate who ticks every box on a highly detailed and idealized job description a “purple squirrel.” The problem with the purple-squirrel approach to recruiting is that it limits your pool of potential candidates and makes it harder to find the right person for the job, especially in a competitive job market. Instead of attracting a diverse group of qualified candidates, you narrow your focus to only those who meet every requirement on your list.

But here’s the thing: the purple squirrel is a myth, and there is no such thing as a candidate who checks every single box. When you focus on finding a purple squirrel, you’re missing out on the many talented individuals who may not fit your exact criteria but still have the skills and qualities you need to succeed.

Avoiding the purple squirrel trap

Whether it’s a lack of understanding of the actual job requirements, unrealistic expectations, or overreliance on buzzwords and keywords rather than the fundamental skills and experience needed for the position, the purple squirrel quagmire is detrimental because it prolongs the hiring process and misses opportunities to find qualified candidates. Fortunately, there are ways to sidestep this hiring trap and make your recruitment process more effective:

Focus on essential skills, not a wish list.

Many job descriptions are overly prescriptive, with an extensive list of required skills and qualifications rather than a roadmap to success. While these requirements may be ideal, they can also limit the pool of potential candidates. Instead of an idealized list of requirements, focus on the core skills needed to succeed in the role. Giving up the wish list and concentrating on what matters expands the number of candidates and can help you find someone with the potential to grow and develop within the company.

Understand that degrees and certifications are nice but not necessary.

While degrees and certifications are impressive, they don’t necessarily guarantee success in a particular role. When hiring in a competitive market, it’s essential to focus on the skills and experience a candidate brings to the table rather than their educational background. So, loosen the rigid academic requirements and focus on finding someone with the desire and aptitude to learn.

Be open to different backgrounds and experiences.

Don’t limit your search to candidates who have done precisely the same thing as the person before them. Instead, look for people who have shown growth, with transferable skills and abilities applicable across different jobs and industries. Remember, a cultural fit is valuable and relevant. A candidate who fits the team will most often figure out a way to become great in the role and duties assigned.

Recognize the value of training platforms.

Investing in training platforms can be a valuable tool in upskilling employees and preparing them for new roles within the company. So, instead of looking for someone with all the required skills, consider investing in training for your current employees and new hires. There are many valuable training platforms and programs that can get them up the field quickly. An employee who feels invested in will provide longer-term returns for their organization.

Vernovis – Your Staffing and Recruitment Partner

What isn’t a myth? You shouldn’t be hunting for qualified talent in this competitive job market alone. Consider partnering with Vernovis, a staffing, recruiting, and consulting organization. As opposed to traditional staffing agencies, we bring deep expertise to understanding the talent landscape, specializing in high-demand and hard-to-find positions in technology, cybersecurity, finance, and accounting fields.

We differentiate ourselves by offering a consultive and flexible approach to meet your needs and ensure you achieve your business objectives. Whether you require staff augmentation, contract-to-hire, direct hire, or even support interviewing, hiring, and onboarding, we have the experience and team to quickly fill critical positions such as program and project management, engineering, data, security architecture, business analysis, and more.

Say goodbye to the purple squirrel and embrace a more practical approach to recruitment. The key to successful recruitment is not to search for the perfect candidate but to find the right fit for the role and company. By being flexible and open-minded and partnering with a total talent solutions provider like Vernovis, you’ll find the staff you need to drive your company forward. Contact us today.




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