The Elusive Purple Squirrel

by Modis on June 12, 2012

We’re all looking for the perfect match.  It doesn’t matter if it’s for personal or professional reasons.  Employers who are hiring for a specific technology position often have a laundry list of “must-haves.”

Modis President Jack Cullen recently authored an article for Computerworld about the search for elusive technical talent.  As the economy continues its tepid recovery, businesses are under pressure to maximize their human resources and they are not willing to settle for less than the perfect candidate for the job.  IT managers are often looking for skill sets that are rare and in some cases nonexistent.  The team at Modis calls this search for the ideal candidate the search for the “purple squirrel.”

Technical professionals know that maintaining and growing their skill set is key to landing a plum position or advancing in their current environment. A recent survey of IT professionals by Modis found that 61 percent of respondents believed that training in new technical skills was critical to their job satisfaction.

The bottom line? Maybe the purple squirrel doesn’t exist or isn’t available. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find exceptional talent for your team.  Here are three recommendations to get you there.

First, be open-minded.  Consider the candidate who may not have the exact combination of skills but shows a passion for learning and a track record of success in previous positions.

Second, amp up your training to retain key talent.  Many employees consider training opportunities just as important as compensation. Offer your super stars (and your super stars in training) the chance to learn a new skill that is important to them.  Now you have a more educated employee who is more like to stay loyal to your firm.

Third, look outside your industry for talent.  It may be that your ideal candidate can be found in an industry similar to yours. Modis has found that with the increase in the need for IT support for electronic health record initiatives, the healthcare sector is pulling candidates from financial services where they often have similar skills sets.

The key to finding the right talent is to be flexible.  They’re out there, you may just need to refine your search.

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