Once upon a time there was a King who ruled The Land of The Purple Squirrel. He was a good King, growing his Kingdom from start-up to an esteemed producer of fine yarn. His castle was made of the finest stones. Inside, 20 spinners labored to turn clean fluffy wool into yarn for garment makers throughout the land.
One day, the King entered the cavernous spinning room and observed there was an empty chair. “Where goes our spinner?” he asked. “She has been poached by the Castle across the way, my Lord,” explained the Nobleman of Serf Resources. “Then get me a new one,” ordered the King, “and make sure this one is absolutely perfect with no shortcomings of any kind. Use the name of my Kingdom as your guide.”
“Ooohh boy,” said the Nobleman under his breath. “Here we go again.”
Without delay, he directed his Talent Crier to spread the word throughout the land.
And so it happened that many talented spinners came forth, submitting parchments that described their greatness.
“None of these spinners has experience with a four foot distaff,” the King complained. “The best you brought me has worked with a distaff measuring only 3 foot 11 inches. Keep looking!”
“But my Lord,” stated the Nobleman, “you are looking for someone who is like the fanciful purple squirrel. They don’t exist in nature. Why do you insist on finding one in the Kingdom workplace?
“Because this is The Land of the Purple Squirrel. Hello,” the King retorted.
And so it happened that the empty chair remained empty for many fortnights. Boxes of finished yarn soon became less full.
The Nobleman of Serf Resources, who was a particularly smart fellow, summoned up all the courage he had to challenge the King.
“Sire, we are spending time and money on a fruitless endeavor. Our output suffers. If we keep hoping for purple squirrels, I fear we could be left with only road kill. I propose an entirely new philosophy, one that uses logic and analysis to discover the truth. Perchance we look for someone who has most of the hard skills and experience we’re looking for but who also encompasses and aligns with our castle’s values, someone who can bring us fresh new perspectives from other fiefdoms. We have interviewed a couple of kick-arse candidates who we believe could add great value and they are ready to begin on the morrow. They are as solid as the great rocks of this castle, and as brilliant as the stars above. I call them… rock stars.”
“Rock stars?”, said the King. “Hmm. Not bad, but lacks punch. How about star rocks?”
“Brilliant, my Lord. These star rocks are motivated and they are in our comp range. Plus, they don’t have to relo.”
After carefully considering the Nobleman’s words, the King received Divine illumination. After a short time passed, he selected a new spinner who stirred up great excitement in the castle. She went on to become a top spinster, gaining membership in the prestigious Knight’s Club three years straight. Her excellent yarn was even featured on QVC (the Queen’s Vassar-Cottar outdoor marketplace).
This may sound like a fairy tale, but in the year 2019 with unemployment at near record lows, the land of the Purple Squirrel exists, and even prospers, in many organizations that believe snagging that absolutely perfect candidate is the ultimate measure of recruiting success. It isn’t. I am a firm believer of the 80/20 rule. Look for 80% skills, the rest are mission critical attributes that in your particular culture will mean the difference between an average spinner and a great one.
Let’s have a conversation about how I can help you identify the best spinners in the Land.
Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent executive recruiters in ecommerce, digital and multichannel marketing, and CRM. With more than 100 published LinkedIn articles, Jerry is the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 29 years. Check out Jerry’s other insights on the Thought Leadership section of the Bernhart Associates website.
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