If you ask people in HR what a Purple Squirrel is you’ll get different responses from those who know the term and you will get raised eyebrows from the rest.
The common definition of Purple Squirrel is a perfect candidate; someone with the rare combination of exactly the right skills, experience, education and salary expectations to meet the company’s agreed upon job description. They are the men and women who make executive search firms and internal talent hunters salivate over the prospect of presenting them to a decision maker who will waste little time making them an offer. Or so they think.
Another definition of Purple Squirrel, and to me one that describes an even rarer find, is a candidate who is an extreme innovator and once he or she is hired their positive impact can be felt in transforming a company, a process, a culture, or the value and production of the people they manage and come in contact with almost from Day One on the job.
Most executives have a hard time fitting the definition of the first Purple Squirrel because it is subjective and requires a blend of several characteristics that are hard to find cumulatively in one person, and in my opinion are not a guarantee of their future success.
As a job seeker you may not be the perfect fit on paper. But don’t let that deter you. As a job seeking executive your job is to present yourself as a Purple Squirrel of the second order by showcasing your ability be an innovator and the impact you have made in the past and the even greater impact you will make in the future.
This should be the cornerstone of your resume, bio, LinkedIn page, elevator speech and your series of job interviews. You need to establish your bona fides as an innovator and as a mover and shaker above all else.
Our job as HR consultants is to educate employers that seeking candidates based on meeting subjective requirements should take a back burner to evaluating talent with a greater emphasis on their ability to innovate and make an impact for positive change in their new role.
As always I am available to critique U.S. resumes at no cost when emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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