Purple squirrels and perfect candidates are a lot a like. No matter how hard you look you will never find one.

In the world of hiring candidates for your long term care or senior care community, there is this concept of looking for a purple squirrel.  The idea goes like this.  Purple squirrels don’t exist in real life.  They are cool, maybe even perfect, they just don’t exist.  You can search high and low, you can devote a lifetime to looking for one, but you will never find one.

Purple Squirrel Candidates

Too often when recruiters and hiring managers begin looking for candidates to fill a position, they are looking for a purple squirrel. . . that perfect candidate.  An article at Harvard Business Review makes the case that looking for the perfect candidate is a waste of time, money and energy for at least 7 reasons:

  1. They don’t really exist.
  2. If one did exist it would not work for peanuts (unlike the mythical purple squirrel).
  3. The longer you keep searching for the perfect fit the longer the job you are hiring for doesn’t get done or at least doesn’t get done well.
  4. The perfect candidate is such a rare commodity, that you can never count on finding him or her, and  ultimately if you get a perfect fit it will be mostly a matter of luck.
  5. You will waste a lot of money and time looking for the purple squirrel.
  6. If you actually manage to hire the perfect candidate you likely stole that person away from another job.  You may feel pretty good about the win but you need to remember someone else will be trying to steal your perfect employee from you.
  7. As time goes on, and the position becomes stale the quality of candidates will decrease.

 Doing it Right

  1. Be realistic about the job market for the position you need to fill and the amount you are willing to pay.  Ask yourself what kind of candidates are really out there, and with what qualification for the amount you are willing to pay.
  2. You are better off to hire a “good enough” candidate then grow them into a purple squirrel employee  or perhaps better yet, look inside your organization for someone who has already demonstrated great growth potential, because often hiring for a position further down the food chain is easier.  By utilizing behavioral assessment software to assess candidates and current employees, you are able to hire for fit and identify potential leaders to support succession planning.
  3. Because it is pretty easy to measure, there is a tendency to look at the “cost to hire”.  This is a fools equation. Putting resources into training, growing nurturing your existing team is way less expensive than hiring and training new team members. To support employee development, consider a performance management system. By tracking employee performance in an organized, online system you are able to create an environment that encourages managers to keep track of their employees’ varied accomplishments in order to better recognize them and further develop their skills.
  4. Make an honest evaluation of your team needs.  If you can go for weeks or months with a position unfilled, maybe you don’t really need that position at all.

 The recruitment process can impact your organization’s culture and influence employee satisfaction. Watch this webinar replay to see how Episcopal Ministries to the Aging (EMA) Communities inspired meaningful living for residents and employees by improving their hiring process.  Enter to win an iPad! Watch this short productour by 6/30 to learn how HealthcareSource’s Staff Assessment can help you hire compassionate caregivers and you’ll be entered to win an iPad! .