about Me

Q:How to get an IT Job?

A: Become a Purple Squirrel!  With Polka Dots. 

The Wall Steet Journal has defined a Purple Squirrel :

 Purple squirrel: This nutty term references the ideal hire (and was the name of a now-defunct trade magazine for the information-technology-staffing industry)…“They’re the dream candidate that doesn’t really exist, or if they do, they’re very elusive.”

From the article:

Latest job search menace: the purple squirrel-

published by Sarah

Like a squirrel, it looks from a distance like a cute and funny little idea. But for job hopefuls, it’s proving to be a pest. 

See, even though this dream candidate doesn’t really exist doesn’t mean that employers aren’t holding out for it. And in this economy overloaded with scores of qualified candidates often competing for the same position, companies have gotten bolder in their search for the purple squirrel.

In a recent article, the OC Register did an excellent job of capturing the real-world effect of this make-believe creature. Peggy Lowe’s story “Out of His Shell to Become a Purple Squirrel” focuses on Harry Oei, a 43-year-old former customer-service employee who was laid off last year and discovered just how hard it is to get an interview these days.

The tight job market has made companies even pickier, jobseekers and recruiters report. With thousands of people to choose from, hiring managers want the absolutely perfect candidate, one who can meet the niche needs of skills, very specific qualifications, who live in a certain geographic area and who will settle for a lower-than-market salary. Companies burned by the economy are only tepidly stepping up hiring and are nervous about bringing on new, permanent employees, headhunters say. This phenomenon is called a “purple squirrel” by recruiters, a “very rare, highly sought after, almost extinct species of candidate,” as Leslie Mason, managing director of a Dallas-area recruitment firm, wrote on her blog last year. A purple squirrel would be a candidate that the company requires to be a salesperson who has accounting skills who would settle for an annual salary of $50,000 when he used to make $200,000, she said during an interview Tuesday…Oei describes the purple squirrel more succinctly. “Just think impossible,” he said. “Unrealistic.”

Oei is taking his tough experiences in the job market and trying to make them work for him, by starting an interview boot camp that will help others be more of a purple squirrel. But thousands of other frustrated job seekers are seeking their own solutions right now.

Meanwhile, Leslie Mason has since discovered that it’s not even good enough to be a purple squirrel anymore. As she reported in an update:

I was talking to a client yesterday regarding a Purple Squirrel search and why the 2 Purple Squirrels submitted were not moving forward. We had 100% of the requirements, the certifications, the industry experience and technical knowledge… now the requirements have been amended to limit us to candidates within a 50 mile radius of their zip code. Looks like this Purple Squirrel has just sprouted pink polka dots as a wardrobe requirement… wonder if they will consider a cutting edge, fashion conscious squirrel with lime green spots?

One final bizarre note: Around the same time that Mason first introduced the phrase, there was a series of sightings in England of an actual purple squirrel. Someone find that guy, he’s hired!


To view my other open positions, please visit Purple Squirrel 


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