Is Purple Squirrel Hunting Right for Your Organization?

Julie Shenkman
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Recruiters all over the United States are having difficulty finding the right candidates. Not only do many applicants lack required qualifications, it's also difficult to find candidates who believe in the mission of your organization. As a result, an ideal candidate is now as rare as a purple squirrel. Instead of leaving positions open or hiring less-than-stellar candidates, smart recruiters are adjusting their strategies accordingly.

Because purple squirrels are so rare, traditional recruiting tactics don't usually work. Great performers are invested in their work, which means you might not be able to persuade them to work for your company even if you offer a higher-than-average salary or a lot of extra perks. Happily employed purple squirrels aren't actively looking for jobs, making them passive candidates. If you are interested in working with a passive candidate, you have to reach out to that person directly. You may even need to change your current hiring process to accommodate an ideal candidate. Requiring skills testing or multiple interviews is often a deal breaker for a purple squirrel.

Changing recruiting tactics can benefit your recruiting career tremendously. For one thing, hunting purple squirrels makes your company more visible to high-performing job seekers. Like many consumers, people looking for jobs often check review websites and ask friends for information about employers. If you are proactive about searching for talented employees, your company is more likely to have positive reviews. Publishing in-depth information for talented candidates also makes your company more visible in your community.

Doing the work required to land a purple squirrel makes it easier to attract the right talent to your company. Instead of writing boring job advertisements or job descriptions, you need to write job stories that explain the personality traits required for the job. Even high-performing individuals are not the right fit for every position. Hunting for a purple squirrel makes it easier to find employees who are passionate about your mission and committed to the values of your organization.

Finally, hunting for purple squirrels is a great way to develop your personal brand. Developing a brand is important for every recruiter, even if you work as a corporate recruiter instead of recruiting candidates for a staffing agency or executive-search firm. Hiring a personal squirrel makes it easier to establish yourself as a pro in the human resources industry, and it tells high-performing candidates you care about your job. If you need to build your personal brand, try to connect with purple squirrels on LinkedIn and other professional networks. Great performers tend to associate with other high-performing individuals, so online networking is a good way to find talented employees for your company.

If you want to succeed as a recruiter, you must be willing to adapt to a changing job market. Looking for a purple squirrel can help you build your personal brand, attract talented employees to your company and position your organization as a leader in your industry.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici of



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