The following 5-module tutorial will introduce you to the core premises of Next Practices and the program’s three startup tactics for achieving recruiting excellence in today’s and tomorrow’s talent market. This foundation will enable you to outperform those using tired, old Best Practices and recruit with more innovation, more power and better results than ever before.
Reaching that level of success, of course, depends upon your grasp of the tutorial’s content, so the final module of the program offers a brief self-assessment questionnaire. It will help you evaluate how well you understand the content and therefore, how ready you are to adopt Next Practices in your recruiting.
Module I: Recruit Magenta Squirrels
The term “purple squirrels” has become the recruiting profession’s moniker for rare talent. It’s typically used to describe individuals who have especially hard-to-find skills. And, that’s the problem. While recruiting a person who has such a skill can seem like a victory, it can and all too often does fall well short of that.
People with rare skills are now more important than cash. Many of the country’s largest employers are sitting on piles of the green stuff, but can’t find the purple squirrels they need to grow. Whether it’s someone who can program in Ruby on Rails or manage complex projects, whether it’s a skilled machinist or a systems engineer with a top secret clearance, these hard-to-find workers are the paramount challenge for recruiters today.
The key to success is not as straight forward as it might at first seem, however. You see, not all purple squirrels are created equal, at least in terms of their potential contribution on-the-job. If you believe academicians, talent follows a normal distribution in the workforce. Or to put it more bluntly, just 15 percent of those purple squirrels are superior performers. The rest are also-rans or worse.
This best of the rarest skill cohort is most accurately described as Magenta Squirrels. Now, admittedly, magenta is a variation of purple, but the dictionary classifies it as a rare color. So, think of Magenta Squirrels as talent that’s so good at their skill – whether it’s rare or common – they not only excel at their own work, they raise the performance level of their coworkers, as well. They are, in a very real sense, the profit multipliers of employers.
Employers may be able to survive with “C” level purple squirrels, but they can only prosper with magenta ones. But here’s the rub, Magenta Squirrels are unlike every other kind of talent. They have different attributes, attitudes, and aspirations. And because that’s so, they must be recruited with methods that are different from those used with other talent.
This alternative approach is expressed in the Golden Rule of Recruiting Top Talent: What you do to recruit Magenta Squirrels will enable you to recruit every other kind of talent, but the converse is not true. In other words, if you design your recruiting process and practices for average performers – even those who possess rare skills – that and only that is what you’ll recruit. But, if you re-imagine your process and practices for Magenta Squirrels, you’ll be able to recruit them and every other kind of talent in the workforce. You’ll be able to give your employer the competitive advantage of truly extraordinary talent.
Approaching & Motivating the Rarest of Squirrels
As described in my book The Career Activist Republic, Magenta Squirrels have a number of personal attributes that distinguish them from others in the workforce. These characteristics determine who and what they will listen to, when contacted by recruiters. Leveraging them is the secret to achieving extraordinary recruitment success.
First, Magenta Squirrels are almost always employed. In order to recruit them, therefore, you must convince them to do the one thing we humans most hate to do … change. You have to convince them to go from the devil they know – their current employer, boss and commute – to the devil they don’t know – a new employer, a different boss, an unfamiliar commute. You can’t accomplish that goal with a job posting only a bureaucrat could love.
Second, Magenta Squirrels never, ever look for a job. Even when they’re in transition, they don’t think of themselves as a job seeker, they don’t act like a job seeker, and they will not respond when you address them as a job seeker on your corporate career site. In their minds, they are “career activists,” and what they’re looking for – even when they’re employed – is a career advancement opportunity – a role with an employer that will enable them to excel at their work and grow in their field.
Purple squirrels are people who possess skills few others have. Magenta Squirrels are people who make an extraordinary contribution with those skills. A purple squirrel does the job. A Magenta Squirrel excels at it. Recruiting a purple squirrel is an accomplishment for the recruiter; recruiting a Magenta Squirrel is a victory for the employer by a recruiter who themselves has expressed a rare talent – the ability to use Next Practices.