A Purple Squirrel is what recruiters call that elusive, more-than-perfect candidate that all employers dream of and hold out for: the one who will make their business sing. A Purple Squirrel will meet all their constantly evolving job specs – and far exceed them. But Purple Squirrels have to be sought out – they don’t just show up. “Keep hunting” hiring managers say.
So how do you become a Purple Squirrel? Mainly it’s how you behave in your current situation; because the Purple Squirrel is totally focused on his work and won’t be wasting time looking around. So then let’s assume you’ve been discovered and tapped for an interview. Here is some of what it takes.
- Be out ahead in your field and your company.
Develop solutions to problems before anyone knows they are problems. Be the go-to person who achieves far beyond any expectation. When people ask for you they speak of only you – not in a bracket with a bunch of other contenders.
- Be excited about your work.
Be passionate: come up with fresh ideas, break new ground – and importantly, inspire others to do more and to want to do it better. Be a motivating team leader and in-demand mentor to the rising stars.
- Understand what is needed, not just what is wanted.
This applies in your present gig and also for that new opportunity. You don’t just do what is asked of you, you surprise, adding value at all stages. When the interview beckons, do your homework. Utterly understand the sector and the company; ask good questions, listen intelligently, express a point of view about where they are headed and how you will make that happen. Know all there is to know about your interviewer and what will light her fire.
- Be clear about your value and believe in it.
Get the interviewer fired up with vivid accounts of your achievements. Let these stories demonstrate that you will surely do more for them than they had even hoped. Be confident that you have what they need and that it would be a wonderful thing for them and for you to advance into the future together.
- Tell them what you need from them to get results
Since you are the Purple Squirrel they had thought they’d never find, they’ll be more than ready to discuss. Remember, it’s about the work, not you. Tell them you really want to do this, but it won’t work if they drag out the decision process.
- Get your network on board.
When they read about your successes on LinkedIn and in other groups, they’ll be so impressed they will eagerly pass on the word and endorse you. “You have to have this guy – he’s just what you need.”
I asked a recruiter about her experience finding these elusive candidates. To my dismay she had not heard of the Purple Squirrel – so I told her what one is and she immediately said “Oh you mean a One Legged Unicorn.” But what’s in a name.