Purple Squirrel Seeks Purple Job


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There is a term used by recruiters when being asked to find candidates that match a long list of requirements and only those that meet every single requirement can move forward. It is a search for a “Purple Squirrel.” The first time I heard it I found it absurd to think that management would put a recruiter through months looking for a perfect fit while the job remains open and unproductive. Yet I am told that it happens a lot.

Managers looking for a “Purple Squirrel” are not concerned with the missing role going without a person for months on end. In other words, either the job duties are insignificant to the operation, or management feels no regret in dumping the extra workload on the remaining people. While it happens that some jobs function well without an employee, most of the time if you are searching for candidates, you also need to hire someone too.

We are all “Purple Squirrels” with a list of talents, skills and experience. The difficult part is finding the “Purple Job!”  It used to be that it was encouraged to apply for a job even if you personally could not check off every single box on the job description. Yet have you noticed that when you do, the automatized system rejects you within second of submitting your application. Sometimes you receive the reject email before you receive the thank you for applying email.

Clerical Recruiters often are the ones that spend their time looking for a “Purple Squirrel” while experienced recruiters will spend more time with the hiring manager resetting expectations. Then they seek a good, but not perfect fit. Good recruiters will remind management that experience allows the job or expectations to change and the new employee will more easily adapt to the new focus.

While I wish the world employed less clerical recruiters that are in their first job themselves a lot of the time, and more recruiters that have had to manage processes and people before, that dream seems to be out of reach at the moment. Hence, this is why this “Purple Squirrel” is looking for his very own “Purple Job.”