• The HR Architect Tony Wiggins

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Saturday Shoutout!!! Chasing the Purple Squirrel

 purple20squirrel_lacoa management

Saturday Shoutout!!! Searching for the Purple Squirrel

Issue 4 | Number 5 | 11 May 2013

Given the weak economy and bleak job market, companies have a bigger pool of job applicants to choose from and, therefore, can be much more selective in hiring. Yet these companies still claim that they can’t find candidates with the requisite skills. Peter Cappelli in his latest book debunks the often-repeated argument from employers that applicants don’t have the skills needed for today’s jobs. Instead, he puts much of the blame on companies themselves – including their lack of information about hiring and training costs – and on computerized applicant tracking systems that can make it harder, not easier, to find qualified job candidates.The formula goes something like this: Vacant position + job advertisement = hire the perfect candidate.

Yet according to Lance Haun, HR thought-leader in the HC Online  on 24 January seeking the so-called ‘perfect candidate’ is a trap fallen into far too often.  Lance Haun, a former HR and recruiting pro turned author, says companies continue to throw money down the drain in the hunt for the perfect candidate for an open position. While the cost of hiring the wrong person can be cataclysmic, so too is the cost of spending months and months on the hunt, adding resources such as outside recruiters to the search to aid chances of securing Mr or Ms Right.

Huan wrote in the Harvard Business Review this week that at the crux of this problem is the “purple squirrel” dilemma. It’s a term many in the business use to define those rare candidates that fit the job specifications so perfectly they’re almost mythical in nature. “These candidates are near-impossible to find in ultra-competitive industries and possess the perfect mix of skills, education and experience. A good purple squirrel will work for peanuts (also known as the pay and benefits you’re willing to offer) and just happens to live in the same town as your company,” Huan said.

But here’s the rub. Too often, those candidates simply do not materialise. If the purple squirrel doesn’t show, you’ve spent money and time on a fruitless endeavour. It cost you:

  1. The time the recruiter spent on the opening
  2. The time you, your team, or the recruiter could’ve spent on filling another opening, and;
  3. The time of those impacted by the opening (managers, colleagues).

Is it time to re-think transferable skills, and ditch the purple squirrel? Read on…

About the Author. To fulfill his professional and personal career aspirations, Tony Wiggins created ‘The HR Architect’ brand in 2009.  With a well-grounded focus and passion for HR, he thrives on working across his networks as a thought leader in ‘making a difference’ in the HR arena.

Tony Wiggins is the Founder and UX Editor of Saturday Shoutout!!! and The HR Architect Spends 5 Minutes with ….Tony utilises the blog ‘The HR Architect’ as a social media network and platform that empowers HR professionals to network, assist and support one another, spanning different countries, subcultures and niches.

Contact Tony at thehrarchitect@optusnet.com.au or @tonywiggin on Twitter.

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