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Are You in Search of the Purple Unicorn?

The Perfect Employee - The Purple Unicorn

Written by: Gale Walney, Administrative Marketing Assistant

What is a purple unicorn? It is the person that meets every criteria of the job description that was posted. They have the experience, they have the degree, they have all the knowledge they need to step in and run with the ball. It is the perfect new hire.

But does the purple unicorn really exist? Some companies believe they do, and for the most part that is not the reality of the real world. The reality is most people either have a degree or they have the experience. Often companies pass on a valuable future employee by holding their expectations too high searching for that purple unicorn, leading to workforce problems. Why is that? During the recession many baby boomers without degrees lost their jobs. Many had years of experience, but are now being passed over by not meeting standards of the job description. Same goes for those students coming out of college with a degree, they are kept out by lack of experience.

Quit vs Layoff Graph from Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do companies need to review their job descriptions? Speaking with some staffing agencies, the answer is yes. They say it is much easier to find the right person for the job when companies are flexible with their “needs”. Some companies are starting to see this and are taking action, while others are sticking to their guns on their hiring policies, leaving the agencies struggling to acquire the right talent.

Thankfully, there are some companies that understand the need to be flexible. Companies which gave jobs to people that have some of the set requirements and worked with them to develop their skills further, saw them thrive because of the devotion. This sends a strong message that this practice should be trending. Employees are more likely to stay with an employer, when the employer shows an interest in their growth. Good examples of that is mentoring, tuition reimbursement or putting them through an apprenticeship program.

Here at DASI, we have a 2-year apprenticeship program that includes on-the-job and classroom training. Employers can use programs like this as part of an onboarding process as an investment in the growth of the company and the employee. Unfortunately, even though DASI’s apprenticeship program now has grant funding and is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, we still struggle to find companies to take an interest. Why is it companies don’t invest more in their employees? Is it that they think it is too expensive? Is it that they don’t fully understand? If these companies would make the commitment to invest in their employees, then they wouldn’t have to be in search of a purple unicorn; they would be able to create and develop the perfect employee on their own.