Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hunting for the purple squirrel: how to avoid ending up in a wild squirrel chase

A purple squirrel is a term commonly used in recruitment to describe a candidate with precisely the perfect mix of skills, experience and personality who is able to immediately handle the wide variety of job responsibilities with no training. Purple squirrels also don’t fuss about their compensation package, part-time employment or the required commute.

Attractive as it may be to initiate the search for that rare animal, it often proves to be a fruitless endeavour. They exist and from time to time, I am able to attract one but that isn’t the result of a successful recruitment strategy, it is merely a matter of luck.

As I don’t like waiting for lady fortune to wave her magic wand, here are a few tips that will avoid that you engage in a wild squirrel chase.

First of all, ask yourself if it is really necessary to find the perfect candidate? When you prioritise the ‘hard to learn’ requirements such as people skills over the specific skills that can be learned on the job, you can attract people who have it in them to become the perfect employee for the long run. Research shows that employees who are trained up to do a role have more incentive to succeed and tend to stay longer in a role.
Rather than spending months finding the perfect candidate, hiring someone with the potential to become the perfect employee may prove to be a very successful strategy.

If after this reflection, you are still convinced that you require a perfect match, gear up!
Personalise your approach. Most candidates with the perfect profile are not actively looking for a new opportunity. You will have to approach them pro-actively, convincing them that your opportunity is the one they have been waiting for.
Market yourself well. Analyse the current job market and define an attractive job offer, an offer that will entice them to engage in an exploratory conversation. In addition to the nuts and bolts of the offer, craft a story that helps the candidate envision better opportunities for success or professional development as a member of your team. Execute that story to perfection; ensure that every step of the selection process reinforces that story. After all, actions speak louder than words.
Be patient. It may take a while before you are able to convince the perfect candidate to take the jump. Investing in creating a talent community or a pipeline of interesting candidates prior to having the need to hire, will speed up the process.

Whether you are on a mission to catch a purple squirrel or whether you are painting a white squirrel purple …feel free to drop me a mail if you need assistance or a sounding board.

Although it is still pouring rain outside, summer has started so it is time for a break. I’ll be back with more insights on my life as a headhunter on September 6th. Enjoy the holidays!

I look forward to hearing from you,

Through a personalised and tailor-made approach, Ingenium Executive Search aspires to assist you in attracting the right talent that matches the DNA of your company

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