Article: Recruitment: Are you also chasing the 'Purple Squirrel'?

Recruitment

Recruitment: Are you also chasing the 'Purple Squirrel'?

This is a term used in the recruitment world to describe the rarest of candidates, almost mythical in nature. These candidates are near-impossible to find in an ultra-competitive industry and possess the near perfect mix of skills, education and experience.
Recruitment: Are you also chasing the 'Purple Squirrel'?

This article is based on the insights we have obtained through our interaction with corporates as we often find ourselves working on these elusive searches for the 'Purple Squirrels'.

This is a term used in the recruitment world to describe the rarest of candidates, almost mythical in nature. These candidates are near-impossible to find in an ultra-competitive industry and possess the near perfect mix of skills, education and experience. Yet, they would have modest CTC expectations and would be happy to work out of your city.

The specifications for a particular position in finance that are thrown open to staffing agencies could be as specific as the following: 

  • Rank holder Chartered Accountant/ first attempt in all 3 levels
  • Age within 25-30
  • Post qualification experience in pharma industry only
  • Currently working in Financial Planning only
  • Must also have preferably done his/her articleship from a Big 4
  • Must have handled a team of minimum 5 members
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Willing to relocate to Mumbai
  • Ready to join within a month - client would not buyout the notice period though
  • CTC Expectations should be reasonable – maximum Rs. 4 lacs per year of post qualification experience


Candidates such as this are the trophies of the talent acquisition world- the dream of every employer. In an era where social media and online databases could have probably made head-hunters obsolete, it is the desire for these Purple Squirrels that is their raison d'être. Career sites of leasing companies have positions that remain open for months together, and HR managers keep waiting with fingers crossed for the next applicant. 

Often the mandate is given to start-up recruitment firms, the Davids of the world, after the Goliath's have endeavoured for months to find Mr Right. When Mr Right is finally found and is rolled out the offer letter; the countdown to the joining date starts. It is that princely sum of money (8.33%) which awaits the recruitment firm. But then lightning strikes - Mr Right backs out as his current company matches the hike offered, owing to personal reasons, he will not relocate and stay in Delhi NCR itself etc. and thus the party is over.

All hopes are quashes and begins again the elusive search, this time probably looping in another consultant into the fray Yet, one may wish to reflect upon whether these the time and cost involved in such talent acquisition drives is worth it. Is the worth waiting for the perfect candidate, who often will be so unreliable w.r.t his /her commitment to switch? Should business suffer due to a vacant position for months just because we are not getting Mr Right who fits the bill to the T. 

While we are not suggesting that clients go the other direction and hire whomever we want, no matter the consequence. It is time, however, to think much more strategically about purple squirrels and the pursuit of perfect candidates everywhere.

A company’s chances of succeeding in getting top talent across the board is next to nothing. Rather we suggest it adopt a strategy of getting one or two very talented people that they have targeted and laying out compelling offers for such ‘Purple Squirrels’. The rest of the efforts should be focussed on finding capable, but not top, talent. The HR function should work in close co-ordination with line managers and make sure that realistic expectations are set from the recruiting team. This is a much better alternate to having positions open for months at a go and hampering work

We firmly believe that the rate of acquisition of ‘Purple squirrels’ is not a fair measure of success. At the very best, they are a measurement of luck and at the very least, they are the sad result of a poor understanding of the employment market and a company’s recruiting capabilities and consequences.

References

Don’t Hire the Perfect Candidate; https://hbr.org/2013/01/dont-hire-the-perfect-candidat

 

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Topics: Recruitment, Talent Acquisition

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