Searching For The Purple Squirrel

In staffing, a sales rep can get a job order, but unless and until it is filled, there is no sale. Similar to other industries, no revenue is generated from unfilled orders. The best sales reps are not the ones that can get lots of orders, but rather orders that can be and are filled.


Outside of staffing, sales reps can have the same perspective. “I got the order.” or “I did my job.” and “Your job is to deliver.” It happens everywhere. If the order isn’t or can’t be filled, there will be no revenue. No revenue equals no sale. No sale equals no commission.


The Scenario

A company has a position that has been open for a long time. They have been recruiting internally and are not able to find any great candidates. Someone in HR reaches out to their procurement department and a purchasing manager reaches out to multiple staffing agencies for help. The purchasing manager provides the job title and a few bullets to various firms looking for a rockstar candidate with the lowest price. It will be a long process with screens and tests for advanced skills with multiple stages of interviews. It is uncertain how long the assignment will last, but they want candidate resumes submitted within 24 hours.


Problem #1: Qualification

If you’re a recruiter or recruiting leader, you may be asking yourself at this point how the order can even be passed to the recruiting team. In many staffing organizations though, there is no criteria, qualification process, or prioritization of new job orders, and a search for a purple squirrel begins.


A purple squirrel, known in the industry, refers to the perfect candidate with the exact combination of required and highly specialized qualifications, skills, experience, education, and salary expectations. This candidate is as rare as a purple squirrel!


Similarly, a pink unicorn is a mystical, passive candidate with the perfect qualifications.


Problem #2: The Rep’s Perspective


Whose operating reality is the rep in?



Problem #3: The Unknowns

What creates defect in the sales (and recruiting) process isn’t what you know, it’s what you don’t know. In the above scenario, there are a lot of unknowns.


What is a long time? Why has the position been open for that long? What challenges have they had in trying to fill it internally? How many agencies have been informed? Who is the decision maker? What are the decision criteria? Do we have access to the hiring manager? What is in it for the candidate? What is the impact if the position is not filled in a certain timeframe?


Problem #4: The Recruiter’s (Delivery) Perspective

Companies are challenged to do more with fewer employees. We have the highest number of job openings in US history. Benefits from unemployment and COVID-related programs make it difficult to attract and retain talent. Employees need to perform more functions with more skills than they have had to in the past.


Are these just SAEs (Socially Accepted Excuses) for why a purple squirrel cannot be found?


The Consequence

Let’s say the order can be filled…


Will the next best squirrel be the best candidate?


Maybe a candidate can be submitted. Maybe the candidate meets some of the requirements of the job. Maybe the hiring manager wants to proceed. Maybe the candidate stays in the process long enough to get an offer. Maybe the candidate accepts. If the candidate doesn’t show (or in some cases doesn't finish the first day or week), there is still no revenue.


Secrets to Success

The secrets are teamwork, communication, and process. Sales and delivery teams must work together to solve client problems. By being in the client (and the candidate’s) operating reality, sales reps (and recruiters) can ask effective questions to uncover the unknowns, move them through the decision process, and seal the deal.


In Staffing, there are 2 core processes, CARP (Client Acquisition and Retention Process) and TARP (Talent Acquisition and Retention Process). In Butler Street’s Sales & Recruiting Effectiveness training programs (offered in virtual series or onsite), we cover how both processes must be in alignment. Beginning with The Four Cornerstones of Success® and taking personal accountability, participants learn about the customer’s or candidate’s operating reality, how to communicate value and ask effective questions to move them through the decision process, proven processes to overcome resistance and objections, and more.


Are you still searching for the purple squirrel or trying to fill the unfillable order? Contact us today for help!