pur·ple squir·rel (pûrpl skwûrl)
1. Any of various arboreal rodents of the genus Sciurus and related genera of the family Sciuridae, having a long flexible bushy tail and including the fox squirrel, gray squirrel, and red squirrel. Except some kids have painted it purple.
2. The elusive perfect candidate in the hiring manager’s mind, who has every one of 27 components of the job description in their background, has worked for a direct competitor, and provides pro bono professional services in their field four nights a week. They’re a little hard to find, some would say because they may not exist.
They’re B-a-a-a-a-ck. Or maybe that depends on who is calling the shots on your search assignment in these crazy times. Search assignments are clearly on the downside (but not for long) and hiring managers are suddenly becoming increasingly “picky” – shall we say. I get the fact that there are lots of great people in search of their next career move. There are millions of people out there job hunting every day. Industries like finance, auto, manufacturing and others clearly have talent on the street looking and hoping to find a new gig to transfer their skills to. Got it!
What I don’t get are hiring managers who seem to be taking advantage of the current environment by creating an illusion that since the unemployment numbers are off the charts and growing that all of a sudden, there has been a huge increase in the number of purple squirrels that are suddenly available. If we search consultants can just find them… C’mon! Narrowly defining a search assignment to find, locate and place a candidate who has the necessary skills to meet the job description and fit into the culture of the company is a fair request. We do that all the time. Taking a pass on multiple candidates (for months) who meet all the requirements (and are a great cultural fit) just to find Mr. or Ms. Perfect is not always the right decision to make. The company has a void in their lineup, with product launches, customer support, lost sales opportunities or a whole host of other things that have to wait until Mr. or Ms. Hiring Manager gets a wake up call and realizes that the perfect, flawless, ideal, over-qualified happy go lucky candidate does not exist. Hello – is anybody home?
Having a set of hiring guidelines and a realistic job description makes a ton of sense to me. Wasting everyone’s time and negatively impacting the company, while searching for someone who does not exist is another. It’s a waste of time and money. Sorry..
OK – I feel much better now:-)
Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He’s a closer, and you really don’t want to call him unless you’re ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim – his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being “detail oriented” in their feedback….