Where’s a Purple Squirrel When You Need One? Plus 3 Other Hard-to-Fill Recruitment Tips

graphic of a purple squirrel in a hard-to-fill labor market

So you’ve decided it’s time to add to your team. You want someone that’s fresh out of college, has 5 years of management experience, speaks 3 different languages, and doesn’t mind making below the median pay. If this hard-to-fill job sounds familiar to your organization, you’re probably chasing after a purple squirrel.

What’s a purple squirrel? In the recruiting world, it’s defined as the perfect candidate with an excruciatingly long list of “must-haves”. That means finding the right person is going to be a challenge—and maybe even a little unrealistic.

We’ve rounded up a few insights on what it will take to recruit your perfect candidate and move the needle in your favor with a hard-to-fill job opening.


To start, you need to weed out the requirements that aren’t an absolute must. Make a “nice to have” and a “must-have” list of the position’s requirements. These distinctions will help you manage expectations and remain focused during your candidate search.

As you begin reviewing candidate profiles, it’s also important to consider soft skills (think: empathy, critical thinking, or time management). Soft skills are a key contributor to on-the-job success. In fact, many times, hiring based on a cultural fit and training the candidate on a job-specific skill improves retention and leads to cost-savings in the long-run.


With unemployment at a staggeringly low 3.8% as of March 2019, chances are that your ideal candidate is likely already employed by someone else.

Turning to passive candidates can be a challenge in itself, mainly because you’ll need to make a compelling case as to why they should leave their current employer to partner with you. Here, dialing in your employer brand will be a key advantage.


It’s important to remember that you can’t always go it alone. Partnering with a staffing agency is often a smart step to make when it comes to a hard-to-fill job opening.

Recruiting agencies typically have access to tools, networks, and resources that a corporate employer may not otherwise have. At EG, for example, our recruiters are deeply ingrained in their communities. In our Professional Recruiting sector, our recruiters have decades of connections available to them.

Contact EG to discuss this or any matter relating to human resources or candidate recruiting issues.

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