Purple squirrel

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For Sciurus indicus, see Indian giant squirrel.

Purple squirrel is a term used by employment recruiters to describe a job candidate with precisely the right education, experience, and qualifications that perfectly fits a job’s multifaceted requirements. In theory, this prized “purple squirrel” could immediately handle all the expansive variety of responsibilities of a job description with no training and would allow businesses to function with fewer workers. In 2012, then-Google recruiter Michael B Junge published a popular job search and career book entitled Purple Squirrel: Stand Out, Land Interviews, and Master the Modern Job Market. The book purports to focus on "the art and science of getting recruited" and has been a best-seller in multiple job search and career categories on Amazon.com. [1][2][3][4][5]


A November 13, 2000 a PR Newswire article cites the recruiting industry publication "Purple Squirrel". Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant Richard A. Camilleri states that he knows when the phrase was coined, but provides no dates or the name of the client who said it.[6][7]

The assumption is that the perfect candidate is as rare as a real-life purple squirrel.

Purple squirrel (Animal)[edit]

There are also several recorded cases of actual squirrels with a purple coloration.

The perfect candidate for the job is as rare as a purple squirrel

1997 sighting[edit]

A purple squirrel was spotted in Minnesota in 1997,[8] but no theories on its unique coloring were presented.

2008 sighting[edit]

An account of a purple squirrel (later named Pete) was recorded at the Meoncross School in Stubbington, Hampshire in the U.K.[9] The squirrel is reported to originally be blue, its coat eventually shifting to purple. One theory posited was that since the squirrel had a tendency to prowl a building with old photo copiers, the squirrel simply got into the old toner cartridges. However, most who saw the squirrel firsthand discount this theory.[9]

2012 sightings[edit]

  • On March 31, 2012, Dale Limburg, a local hunter from Green, Ohio while on a deer hunt in Pennsylvania captured a pristine specimen of a purple squirrel [10] however the squirrel was later released back into the wild to help build the dwindling Purple Squirrel population back up. More theories have been outlined at [11]
  • In 2012, a purple squirrel was sighted and captured in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. A news reporter from AccuWeather.com first reported the story on Tuesday, February 7, 2012. The squirrel quickly became an Internet sensation, establishing its own social media accounts. The squirrel, which was caught on Feb. 5, 2012, was released back into the wild on Feb. 7, 2012. There are several theories as to what caused the squirrel's strange coloring, including local hydraulic fracking and chewing on pens.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The main protagonist, Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), in the 2014 animated film, The Nut Job, is a purple squirrel.
  • Ricky (portrayed by Robb Wells) in Trailer Park Boys hallucinated and shot at imaginary purple squirrels in the episode "Conky" (Season 4 Episode 5)


  1. ^ ‘Purple Squirrels’ Now In Demand, CBS, (October 11, 2010).
  2. ^ Hiring the purple squirrel - Portland Unemployment, Examiner, (July 23, 2009)
  3. ^ "Urban Dictionary". Urban Dictionary. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  4. ^ "Bloomberg". Mobile.bloomberg.com. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  5. ^ Richard Perrin, Real world project management: beyond conventional wisdom, best practices, and project methodologies, John Wiley and Sons, 2008 ISBN 0-470-17079-4 page 215
  6. ^ Alison Doyle, The Mystery of the Purple Squirrel, June 19, 2012
  7. ^ Sendouts.com Ad Capitalizes on Absentee President; Rodgers Townsend Has A Projected Winner with Its Topical Ad Campaign, PR Newswire, (November 13, 2000).
  8. ^ a b "No Explanation for Pennsylvania's Purple Squirrel". Accuweather.com. 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  9. ^ a b "Pete the purple squirrel leaves animal lovers baffled | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  10. ^ Mother Nature Network, Purple squirrel captured in Pennsylvania
  11. ^ NPR, A Purple Squirrel In Pennsylvania Provokes A Host Of Theories

Further reading[edit]

The employment term[edit]