The Hunt for the Perfect Job Candidate


When companies have a job opening, they naturally would like to hire the perfect candidate for the job, a person with just the right education, experience, and skill, and willing to work for what the company will pay him or her.

And for this reason, jobs often remain vacant for a long time as companies wait for that perfect person. If no one shows up, they simply extend their job search, putting in more time, effort and money.

But the problem with this strategy is that the perfect candidate is as rare as he is excellent. In fact, these candidates are so rare that recruiters have a name for them, “purple squirrels.” Once in a great while, a company might get lucky and actually find a purple squirrel. But for every purple squirrel, there are maybe hundreds of job openings that remain unfilled in a fruitless search for the Goldilocks applicant – the one who’s just right.

Most of the time, companies never find a purple squirrel, and instead waste a lot of time and money. Not only does it cost the company the time that the recruiter spends looking for the purple squirrel, it costs the time that the recruiter could have spent filling other job openings, plus the cost to others in the company who need to fill the opening.

Business analyst Lance Haun suggests that this hunt for the purple squirrel is just a wasteful and misguided strategy. To arrive at a better way, Haun says you need to imagine that you only have 60 days to complete a job search. What would change as a result?

Companies would probably do a better job analyzing the state of the job market. For example, if you are looking for people in an area where competition is fierce, you wouldn’t spend your time trying to find top candidates for every opening, but maybe try to find one or two people of top talent and then look for capable, but not top, people.

There would probably be a more concerted effort made toward training and retention. Sometimes it may be almost impossible to fill a job opening because of labor shortages or location. In this case, training your existing workforce might be the best way to go.

Companies probably would not be so concerned about the cost of the job search, if they had a limited time to find someone. They would only be concerned about finding the best person, not pinching pennies.

With a limited amount of time and a better idea of what the job market is like, companies would also probably spend more time really figuring out what job positions need to be filled, which jobs should take priority.

All of these changes would result in a better, more focused hiring process, rather than the unending search for the elusive purple squirrel.

If your company is looking for the right job candidate in the Washington, DC area, call RealStreet Staffing. Our recruiters can find the right person for your company in the architecture, construction and engineering sectors. Contact us for the people you need to get your business moving.

A career in construction administration and management can be (and for me has been) one of constant transition. It’s rather common that employment with a given company starts and finishes with each successive project; you’re a new hire as it’s just getting “out of the ground,” then finished and looking for a new project (and Read More…

Greg Wangler, Pentagon Construction Management Division

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