In the world of recruitment, hiring managers often use the term "purple unicorn" to refer to a candidate who possesses an exceptional combination of skills and experience. However, this term can be misleading, as it implies that such a candidate exists, when in reality, it is rare to find someone who checks every single box. However, that doesn't mean you can't find great people that are an excellent fit for your team and your company. We've jotted down three areas that hiring managers can focus on to find their next great hire to have you seeing purple in no time.
Understand what you really need
Take a look at the job. Not the job description. The job. What does a day in the life look like? What is that person actually doing day in and day out. What defines success in that role? What skills do they need to accomplish tasks? Build your list of must haves off of the answers to these types of questions. I'll give you an example, 'Ability to multi-task' vs 'Ability to trouble-shoot technical issues daily while balancing employee productivity and maintaining production goals.' One is bland and generic and one is highly detailed and specific. In addition to targeting based on skills, optimized job descriptions should be crafted to effectively attract candidates aligned with a company's mission, values and culture. These types of considerations will help you build an accurate job description, which in turn will narrow your pool of candidates and get you one step closer to your unicorn. Generic gets generic. Specific gets unicorns.
Know the market
Now that you have a better understanding of who you're really after, have you looked to see if they are even out there? What's the supply and demand for the position you're looking for? Are you, as an employer, competitive enough to attract them? Do you need to consider relocation packages to be able to recruit outside your immediate area? Depending on your answers, you may need to go back to step one and adjust your needs. Comb through job boards and wage databases to know for sure what competitors are doing. In today's market, candidates have the upper hand. Job seekers are deliberately selective. 75% of job seekers will investigate a company's reputation before applying for a job (Forbes). How can you stand out? Start by knowing the market, then you can offer an opportunity that will stop your purple unicorn in their tracks.
Set realistic expectations
So you know what you actually need in a candidate and you've gained a comprehensive understanding of the market. Now what? Be realistic. What's it costing you to continue to hold out for your unicorn? To continue to have an unfilled position? It's time to consider what is truly a must-have and what is negotiable or what can be offered through continuing training. Does your position require someone who can do monotonous tasks all day long? Or maybe someone who is better suited for a wide-range of tasks throughout any given day? You may need to consider behavioral screening like the Predictive Index. Or, is a 'must-have' experience working within a specific ERP system? We've seen many cases over the years where an employer was actually OK with experience on any ERP system and were more than willing to provide training on their specific program once hired. Offering training specific to your systems and company gives you the autonomy to mold your new hire exactly how you want.
The pursuit of the purple unicorn is an unrealistic endeavor that often leads to disappointment and prolonged hiring processes. By reevaluating expectations, prioritizing transferable skills, and emphasizing cultural fit, hiring managers can make smarter and more effective hiring decisions. Remember, it's not about finding the perfect candidate who possesses every imaginable quality; it's about finding the right candidate who can learn, grow, and contribute to your organization's success, specifically. Readjust your lens and focus on finding exceptional talent based on intentionally crafted, realistic criteria.