Jody Phillips

Hirevision Career Coach


The Myth of the Purple Squirrel

3d red-blue anaglyph Squirrel Kensington Park ...

A Blue-ish Example of the Breed

HR’s biggest tangle? My clients tell me it’s talent acquisition. Common wisdom attributes it to employers who’re screaming for ‘purple squirrels’.

Tight niches demand highly specialized talent with complex qualifications. Exotic and rare creatures with unusual markings. Innovative thinkers with strings of  designations who are deft with in-house politics. Add years of exacting experience, say for example, toying with algorithms and models – analyzing then predicting the future with more zeal than a psychic. This is the stuff of today’s job market.

Remarkably, I don’t believe it’s attracting talent that creates HR’s nastiest issue – no matter how rare the squirrel they’re hunting. I find extraordinary folks every day – and yes – they’re mostly P.S. searches.

The culprit is a clogged hiring process. A Consultant from Mercers recently presented their findings on the number of interviews required to generate optimal hires.  Common practice is three to six (HR/Hiring Manager/Executive/Panel/Peer etc.).

The research proved otherwise. The magic number is, are you ready? One. That’s right – ONE interview/er is most successful. And they found that hiring managers have the highest batting average for picking best pup (or squirrel) in show.

Why is that? Well because consensus-based-hiring demands the impossible. Consider the analogy of six people going out for a meal. They need to agree on where to go, who lands in who’s car (both directions), what to order and who’s grabbing the tab.

Inclusion of every branch of the organizational tree fails. Too many blessings required. It’s easy to screen folks out when your performance isn’t assessed on theirs. Ego issues muddle. Peers feel threatened. Execs demand a perfect qualification set, when bagging one lavender squirrel is often as good at it gets (selecting from three contenders is unlikely when hunting royal purples).

The most viable prospect is often lost because consensus stretches the timeline – sometimes to a year. The prospective employer’s only contending purple may be wooed by a competitor that offers career trajectory, more money, but most importantly, speed. Immeasurable work is zapped and time lost when said squirrel accepts a position elsewhere.

The solution is at the top. A cogent case must be made to CEOs, COOs and and others with ‘C’ in their titles. Whack back the hiring process. Simplify. Create an organization that moves smartly while remaining diligent. It’s a very profitable choice. As an HR professional would you champion the cause?








Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply