What does a Purple Squirrel really look like?
In case you don’t know, here’s a definition of the term “Purple Squirrel”, according to urbandictionary.com:
“For all practical purposes, there is no such thing as a Purple Squirrel; not in nature and not in the job market. It is a metaphor used by recruiters to identify the unrealistic expectations of a client company. The happy exception is when a perfect candidate, with exactly the right qualifications and experience, is actually found for a job opening. That person would then be referred to as a Purple Squirrel.”
But what does it mean to the Hiring Manager?
Firstly, no Hiring Manager uses Purple Squirrel. The term they’re more familiar with is the Ideal Candidate.
Both the Purple Squirrel and the Ideal Candidate are people whose experience (and sometimes even their personality) is perfectly aligned with that of the hiring company.
In short, they’re doing the same job as the one you and/or the Hiring Manager are trying to fill and fit any number of conscious or subconscious cultural biases.
What that usually translates to in real-world practical terms, is a candidate who doesn’t need to be assessed, trained or managed. Because they’re perceived as being that perfect.
The Ideal Candidate and The Purple Squirrel are often the wish list of a Hiring Manager or HR person who hasn’t put any thought into what they really need. Either that or they’ve got drunk on the company Kool-Aid and think there are lots of these Purple Squirrels just waiting for the chance to come and work for them.
The next time your client briefs you on “the ideal candidate”, ask them to explain why they think someone would want to leave their current job (which they’re doing successfully) to move to their company to do the exact same thing.
Next person to speak loses.
You are asking your clients this question, right?