Purple squirrel

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For Sciurus indicus, see Indian giant squirrel.
For actual squirrels, see Purple squirrel (animal).

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.[1][2] The implication is that the perfect candidate is as rare as a real-life purple squirrel.[3] 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.[4][5][6][7]

Origin and history[edit]

A November 13, 2000 PR Newswire article cites the recruiting industry publication "Purple Squirrel," with Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant Richard A. Camilleri stating he knows when the phrase was coined, but not providing dates or the name of the client who said it.[2][8] 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."[4] 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.[9]

A 2013 article in the Harvard Business Review pointed out that standard recruitment methods at times failed to find the "purple squirrel" companies were seeking,[10] a viewpoint also espoused in other articles.[11] While ComputerWorld suggested retraining existing employees as an alternative,[12] an op-ed in Crain's in April 2013 recommended that companies look to employee referral to speed the recruitment process for purple squirrels.[3] In recent years, several business seeking to supply companies with purple squirrels have come into being. One of the companies, named Purple Squirrel, is an online marketplace that connects job seekers with employees (instead of recruiters) at major companies,[13] allowing candidates to schedule informational interviews and earn employee referrals.[14] Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the company was in private beta as of 2016.[15]

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 Doyle, Alison (June 19, 2012). "The Mystery of the Purple Squirrel". about.com. Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ a b "'Purple Squirrels' Now In Demand". CBS. October 11, 2010. Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  5. ^ "Hiring the purple squirrel - Portland Unemployment". Examiner. July 23, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Finding Retail Talent in Twitter Era Adds to Challenges". Bloomberg. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ Junge, Michael B. "Purple Squirrel". michaelbjunge.com. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Haun, Lance (January 14, 2013). "Don't Hire the Perfect Candidate". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  11. ^ "Back In The Race: Stop Trying To Hire The Purple Squirrel". Above the Law. September 23, 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-18. 
  12. ^ "Stop searching for that elusive 'purple squirrel'". ComputerWorld. April 9, 2012. Retrieved 2016-06-18. 
  13. ^ Huhman, Heather (April 28, 2016). "How to Make Better Hires with Purple Squirrel". Tech.co.uk. 
  14. ^ South, Gill (June 10, 2015). "Tech startups disrupt the way recruiting is done". Northern California Human Resources Coalition. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  15. ^ "Purple Squirrel Beta". www.purplesquirrel.io. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 

Further reading[edit]