Selling Your Client to Purple Squirrels

As recruiters, we are no doubt aware that competition exists on every account and every project. Adding to that complexity, every company wants you to find the  elusive purple squirrel.

In the April report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Job Openings and Labor Turnover, the number of open jobs has surpassed the number of new hires for the first time since 2009. This means that for the first time in 6 years, the number of jobs to fill outweighs the number of people to fill them. This trend shows a definitive shift towards a talent-centric market, where candidates will have their choice of several job opportunities. Every qualified candidate we touch receives multiple calls each week for opportunities local and remote, promising and poor. How then do you convey your particular opportunity in the best light to candidates?

Let’s discuss how to create that rainbow colored acorn that will attract the purple squirrel you need and sell them on the opportunity.

1. Tell the story of a company

First, the most unique component of each company is the founding of the organization. No two companies start with the same resources, scope, or business model. The narrative of a company’s inception to present day serves as compelling information to potential candidates, passive or not.

Was the company a single family gas station turned diversified manufacturer? Did the founders conceptualize the business in a small backyard garage? Have there been any recent milestones which dramatically grew the company in the last 10 years?

When conveying these details, keep in mind these key criteria:

  • Focus on individuals or founders of the company.
  • Avoid using business nomenclature or any acronyms used inside the company.
  • Highlight challenges and successes with equal emphasis.
  • Give at least one key metric of success in the company description.
  • Always assume your audience knows nothing about your company.

2. Focus on why the business exists

Secondly, you need to express to candidates why that business is unique and how their particular product, service, or offering is different than that of their competitors.

To accomplish this, it is important to gain an understanding of that employer’s offerings, process, and vision. Talent branding organizations refer to this as an Employer Value Proposition or EVP.

The best EVP’s are comprised of information from management on down. This can include traditional benefits such as medical, dental, and vacation, but the more relevant and effective details such as corporate mission and long-term vision may be harder to grasp at first.

The reason any employee works for a company like Apple is not because they make phones; it is because of their EVP which is a commitment to creativity, pursuit of perfection, and continued ability to “Think Different.” What Apple accomplishes and how they do it are critical to attracting a purple squirrel and bringing them on board.

Understand what the company does by learning its products and services. Then acquaint yourself with how these products or services are delivered. What supply chains or internal processes are used to get offerings to customers? After grasping the “What” and “How,” look at why the company exists. This crucial piece gives great insight into any company.

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How has a company like Apple contributed to the marketing of personal computers to consumers? How has your client company impacted its market?  What would be different if their organization never existed?

3. Spell out the pros and cons

Lastly, when composing actual job descriptions, use the most accurate information available to clearly explain what the job entails. List out the positives and negatives of a job with open language and give a fair account of the opportunity.

Does the job offer competitive pay? Great! Make sure to mention this. Does the job require 6 hours of walking a day? Even better, spell it out.

Rather than sweeping any landmines under the carpet, give an accurate picture of a job that ensures the finalists you land are viable, long-term prospects and not fair-weather employees which you will have to replace in 6 months time.

The Society for Human Resource Management cites a conservative estimate of $7,000 dollars to hire a new employee. Picking the wrong person the first time means a potential loss of credibility with your client, which is a detriment to future business with that company.

A compelling, thoughtful, and honest description of the company and job you are offering will give you the best chance at catching a purple squirrel. These details make your opportunity shine brightly, differentiating it from the other acorns which may be lying in front of your candidates. Follow these guidelines to ensure that you attract the right people to a company, creating a long-term commitment with your clients and fostering a more positive relationship with your prospects.

While we all wish that you could advertise client benefits like chef prepared gourmet meals and endless nap times, not every company has the resources to treat their employees like royalty. What we can offer to prospective employees is an honest account of why a company is unique.

Joseph Mabus is the operations manager for Cutting Edge Connect, a Chicago based executive consulting firm. Cutting Edge Connect provides contingency recruiting services, employee retention strategies, employer branding consultation, and pipeline management tools to North American companies and corporations.

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