The Ultimate Purple Squirrel

We regularly hear about the “purple squirrel,” describing the allusive candidate with a unique background and diverse set of skills for a specific job who are not easily found.

Our talents are sought after because we have a unique set of skills/traits that make hunting for purple squirrels’ child play.

To Be Successful, We Are:

Hunters- making our daily calls to passive candidates, engaging talent to buy into your companies’ employer brand and the ultimate job opportunity.

Psychologists- we evaluate, determine if a person is qualified and a fit within the organization.

Marketers- we develop content to use in social media to brand ourselves as the recruiter that “candidates” want to speak with.

Consultants- we provide our business leaders market intelligence on the who, what, how and why in the market.

Researchers- we use our technical skills to find and gather data so that we can identify the talent we need to fill “critical roles” promptly; reducing the impact on the business for not having the right talent.

Technology Geeks- we need to know how to use a variety of tools that will allow us to do our job. CRM, ATS, Aggregators, profile finder, email finder, etc.

Counselors- yes, we talk to professionals every day. Counseling them on what they should do in their career, on their resume, how to interview, etc. helping them be successful in their quest for a new opportunity.

And yeah knowledgeable on employment law, we must know local, state and federal laws surrounding hiring/employment.

No wonder we are always tired! (I need a nap.)

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We are in a unique profession; there’s not a college degree program for recruitment, no career path, no OJT plan or trade program that prepares you to be a talent acquisition professional. It’s kind of crazy think about it, a function which impacts an organization at the highest level (hiring people) doesn’t have a formalized degree program.

We are the few (okay maybe not that few), the proud and the determined who have successfully transformed who we are to become the best at what we do. Recruit!

How does one get into recruiting?

When you were in college or thinking about your future, did you say, “Damn, I’ve always wanted to be a recruiter.”

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Probably not.

Throughout the years, I’ve come across a diverse group of people, who are passionate about what they do. Not once have I ever heard a recruiter say the following words, “Yeah, I’ve always wanted to be a recruiter, it has been my lifelong dream.”

Those words did not cross my lips either.

When I started my search for a lifelong career, I aspired to be a Certified Public Accountant, but after years in college and holding various jobs, I was lost and unsure where I wanted my career to land. I knew I wanted to be in a role where I could make an impact on an organization. I met a VP of Recruitment at a very large financial institution, I shared my story, and two weeks later, I was hired by her in recruitment, and the rest is history.

As recruiters, we are misfits (and I’m okay with that). We are an eclectic group of people who may have tried to fit in somewhere else, i.e., sales, telemarketing, finance, nursing, engineering, management and yes, even human resources.

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We don’t fit in a box our diverse skill set, and varied background put us where we are today. We do like to push the envelope and challenge our leaders, and sometimes we color outside of the lines. It’s why hardcore HR people don’t like us too much.

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We love challenges. We are fighters, and we “influence” business decisions and bring value to an organization.

  • We engage people,
  • We collaborate, share, listen, understand,
  • We build relationships and
  • Then use the information to drive results through data.

We get the right people hired in the right roles, assisting an organization to increase revenue, market share, or ensure patients are getting the best possible care! Our jobs do change lives.

We do all of this with few or no resources.

We are superheroes, damn it!

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Why are we NOT being recognized for what we do and what we bring to the table?

You ready for this? Because we cost the organization money and we are not a profit center (who’s heard this before?).

Over 700 words later, you’re asking is there a purpose of this article?

Yes, there is a purpose. I’ve fought non-stop over the years to help open the eyes leaders and demonstrate we as talent acquisition professionals are more than just a support function!

We are “strategic partners,” we are experts, we are knowledgeable, and we DO IMPACT THE BOTTOM LINE.

The one takeaway I want you to remember is to continue to fight for our profession. We are not just screeners, administrative or worse a “support function of HR.” We are experts.

Although there’s not a recruitment degree that prepared us for the life we live. We bring much more as our backgrounds are rich and diverse. We need to continuously leverage what we’ve learned and continue to build our credibility, ensuring we have a seat at the table as a peer and not a support function.

As talent acquisition professionals, we do have a unique background with a diverse set of skills for a specific job which is not easily found. We are the Ultimate Purple Squirrel!

Matt Craven is a senior strategic sourcer & program manager at Schneider Electric. With 20 years of experience in talent acquisition in various industries including healthcare, financial services, energy, and technology. He drives results by finding the purple squirrels (not always with technology either) and gets his candidates to accept!

Matt leads various continuous improvement projects that drive talent acquisition as a “strategic partner” through research, data and building relationships. He helps shape how organizations look at recruitment functions.

Passion drives him. When he’s not out hunting for great people, Matt is spending time with the family in the Pacific Northwest, hiking, kayaking and exploring the beautiful beaches along the Oregon coast.

Connect with Matt on Linkedin OR Twitter.

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