Purple squirrel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Purple squirrel is a term used by employment recruiters to describe a job candidate with precisely the right education, set of experience, and range of qualifications that perfectly fits a job's requirements.[1] The implication is that over-specification of the requirements makes a perfect candidate as hard to find as a purple squirrel.[2]

While 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,[3][4][5][6] it is commonly asserted that the effort seeking them is often wasted.[7][8] and that being more open to candidates that don't have all the skills, or retraining existing employees, are sensible alternatives to an over-long search.[2][9]

Origin and history[edit]

While it is unclear when exactly the term was coined, it was in use by 2000,[10] and in 2010 CBS published material using the term, writing that "businesses are looking to do more with fewer workers, so they want [purple squirrels] who are able to take on a wide range of duties."[3] In 2012, Google recruiter Michael B. Junge published a popular job search and career book Purple Squirrel: Stand Out, Land Interviews, and Master the Modern Job Market, which helped popularize the term.[11] Elon Musk tweeted in 2012, "Do not search for purple squirrels! Giving them attention only makes them want to be more purple." which is likely also a reference to this term.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solman, Paul (August 15, 2012). "Purple Squirrels and the Reserve Army of the Unemployed". PBS. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  2. ^ a b Kramer, Mary (April 7, 2013). "Need to fill jobs? Don't hunt the 'purple squirrel'". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  3. ^ a b "'Purple Squirrels' Now In Demand". CBS. October 11, 2010. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  4. ^ "Hiring the purple squirrel - Portland Unemployment". Examiner. July 23, 2009.
  5. ^ "Finding Retail Talent in Twitter Era Adds to Challenges". Bloomberg. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Haun, Lance (January 14, 2013). "Don't Hire the Perfect Candidate". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  8. ^ "Back In The Race: Stop Trying To Hire The Purple Squirrel". Above the Law. September 23, 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  9. ^ "Stop searching for that elusive 'purple squirrel'". Computerworld. April 9, 2012. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  10. ^ "Sendouts.com Ad Capitalizes on Absentee President; Rodgers Townsend Has A Projected Winner with Its Topical Ad Campaign". PR Newswire. November 13, 2000. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  11. ^ Junge, Michael B. "Purple Squirrel". michaelbjunge.com. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  12. ^ @elonmusk (10 February 2012). "Do not search for purple squirrels! Giving them attention only makes them want to be more purple" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ "Tech Companies Want You to Believe America Has a Skills Gap". Bloomberg.com. 4 August 2020.