Is Your Search for the Purple Squirrel Really Worth It?

Purple squirrel, perfect candidate

When you diligently search for something, or someone, that you’re persistently unable to find, it hurts. This pain rings true across a score of scenarios, and it’s no different for hiring managers. Is your organization having a tough time finding its desired candidates? You may be on the long, circuitous road of looking for a purple squirrel. But how would you know this is the chase you’re on?

It’s enticing to pursue the purple squirrel. The idea of finding the perfect applicant is what every organization dreams. Someone that checks each box and requirement—education, relevant experience, certifications, etc. A borderline mythical figure with the ability to plug into any organization without training or adjustment, performing tasks typically divided among multiple employees, potentially churning a more cost-effective output. A purple squirrel can undoubtedly bring immediate value, but what are the interim and long-term costs for this pursuit?

Organizations may fixate on identifying a purple squirrel to meet their needs. But here’s the thing about purple squirrels, they are nearly impossible to find and even more challenging to be found within a reasonable time-frame. If you’re serious about nabbing your purple squirrel, it’s advised you prepare a 6 – 12 month window of intensive, painstaking search.

During this window, organizations trade productivity, time and valuable resources for this glossy apparition. This search forces recruiters to dramatically narrow their purview and overworks staff members who bear the responsibility of growing workloads. This can be doubly profuse when the desired solution hides in plain sight. Candidates with phenomenal qualities may already exist in close proximity to your organization, eager for the opportunity to prove their worth. They may not be glamorous purple squirrels, but they might be a strong lavender.

With proper coaching and leadership, good candidates can be developed into purple squirrels over time. But the immediate concern of burdensome workloads and overwhelmed employees will be alleviated. Also, prioritizing great candidates better suited for the company’s culture should at least be considered, because whether someone possesses all of the desired skills, or only a handful, candidates who buy into the organization’s culture tend to last longer.

It’s easy to miss out on the right candidate when you’re committed to finding the perfect one. And the right candidate works every time.