Recruiting Outside The Box: Ways To Catch Elusive Purple Squirrels

Every company wants to attract and hire the best talent – the shining stars who will take the organization forward. These exceptionally skilled candidates (purple squirrels) are so rare and coveted. They have both hard and soft skills to thrive in a role. Beyond just checking off the basic qualifications, they showcase unique problem-solving abilities, creativity, strategic thinking, high motivation, and the potential for rapid career advancement.

Companies are evolving their recruiting playbooks with purple squirrels in mind to gain a competitive edge in today’s labor market. While hiring purple squirrels requires more targeted efforts, the payoff is immense. These outstanding employees turbo-charge innovation, reduce ramp-up time, and can inspire teams to new heights of performance. For critical roles, it’s worth investing resources into recruiting systems that lure exceptional candidates into your talent pipeline.

This blog post explores strategies to improve your recruitment process to attract and hire purple squirrels. With the right approach, your company can become a magnet for top-tier talent even in a difficult hiring landscape. Let’s look at key areas where purple squirrel-focused recruiting tactics can give your hiring a competitive advantage.

What is a Purple Squirrel 

Before delving into the purple squirrel recruiting strategies, let’s answer the important question: what is a purple squirrel?

In recruiting, a “purple squirrel” is an idiom that describes a job candidate with a rare or improbable combination of skills, experience, and qualifications that perfectly fit a position. Similar to how a real-life purple squirrel would be highly unusual, these exceptional candidates are like unicorns, providing an ideal and almost magical fit with all the abilities and attributes an employer seeks. Purple squirrels check every box on a job description and demonstrate creative problem-solving, communication skills, leadership, and tremendous upside potential. They require far less ramp-up time and make immediate high-impact contributions from day one. While most candidates meet some requirements, purple squirrels stand out as having the entire end-to-end mix of technical capabilities, soft skills, and cultural fit that an organization desires. Identifying and hiring this outstanding talent takes a focused recruiting approach.

Purple Squirrel Recruiting Tactics  

Here are the most important tactics for purple squirrel recruiting:

Evaluate and Improve Your Employer Brand

A compelling employer brand is crucial for grabbing the attention of purple squirrels and positioning your organization as a coveted place to build their careers.

Showcase your values, mission, people, and personality. Highlight unique traditions, events, or community outreach. Discuss training programs, mentoring, stretch assignments, and leadership pathways. Top talent wants to develop continuously. Promote your remote work options, leave policies, childcare benefits, etc., as exceptional candidates value flexibility and balance—share competitive pay and your nominations for “best workplace” recognitions and perks.

Review your career site, social feeds, and employer review profiles to ensure alignment with your desired brand. Fill in any gaps with compelling content to attract purple squirrels seeking meaningful, engaging work and opportunities to advance their skills and career.

Leverage Social Media for Recruiting

Build talent communities on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where you can share content and interact with potential applicants. Post multimedia content that spotlights your employer brand – share videos on company culture, employee testimonials, events, or leadership Q&As. Discuss trends in your industry, innovations, or company wins to attract interested followers. Highlight employee success stories, promotions, and awards to showcase growth. Engage followers by responding to comments, offering career advice, or giving “behind the scenes” looks at your organization.

Leverage targeted paid ads to get your content in front of niche groups of candidates. The goal is to grow your follower base with prospective purple squirrels organically. Social platforms allow you to build authentic relationships and provide value to future candidates well before you have an open position. This establishes your brand and recruiting presence to attract prime talent when you need it.

Develop Relationships with Talent Sources

Build ongoing relationships with organizations and networks that can funnel exceptional candidates your way. This provides access to passive but talented individuals not actively job searching.

Connect with niche associations in your industry. Offer to present at meetings or sponsor events. Engage alumni on social media or through outreach campaigns. Many schools facilitate alumni-student mentorships. Boomerang employees make great rehires. Keep tabs on top alumni through an alumni portal.

By tapping into relevant talent pools and communities, you can network with high-potential candidates and build an ongoing recruitment presence even without open requisitions.

Use Technology to Enhance Recruiting Process

Leveraging recruiting technology and tools can streamline your process and identify prime talent more easily. Organize all candidates and their data in one centralized database for a structured recruiting process. It makes screening and tracking applicants efficient.

Conduct digital interviews to screen candidates. It allows flexibility and can be shared with other hiring team members. Using AI sourcing tools, crawl the web to find potential candidates based on the required skills or traits to expand your pipeline.

The right mix of recruiting tech enhances efficiency, expands your reach, and provides data to continuously improve and adapt your recruiting program to access purple squirrels.

Interview Strategically with Purple Squirrels in Mind

Your interview process itself requires special consideration to evaluate exceptional candidates.

Design smart interview questions that assess problem-solving abilities, resourcefulness, and quick learning skills. Case studies or skills demonstrations can provide insight. Include team projects or presentations to observe collaboration and work skills in action.

Discuss career development opportunities during the interview to sell candidates on future growth potential. Promote your company’s larger purpose, vision, and meaningful work during interviews to inspire candidates. Involve top current employees in the interview process for cultural fit assessment. Allow candidate Q&A time with potential peers.

Maintain an ongoing relationship after the interview process through your talent network. Adapting interviews to be more strategic, conversational, and collaborative allows your team to properly assess purple squirrels beyond just qualifications and determine mutual fit.


Attracting and hiring exceptional purple squirrel candidates requires reimagining traditional recruiting approaches. From enhancing your employer brand to leveraging technology, specialized tactics are needed to catch the eye of prime talent in today’s market. Investing in relationships with niche talent sources and networks is crucial for access. Strategic interviews that allow in-depth assessment determine proper organizational fit. While it takes effort, adapting your recruitment process to court purple squirrels gives your company a competitive edge in acquiring the top-tier talent you need to accelerate growth. One exceptional employee can positively influence teams and workgroups with the right hiring.

If you need support in transforming your recruiting and talent acquisition process, the experts at Arthur Lawrence can help. We offer end-to-end recruiting solutions tailored to attract and engage purple squirrel candidates that align with your company’s needs and culture. Contact us today to learn more about our talent acquisition services and how we can help you build an effective recruitment strategy to catch the eye of the best talent for your critical roles.

Also Read: Top 5 High-Volume Recruiting Strategies You Can Use In 2023