The metaphorical term “purple squirrel” is a phrase used by hiring managers to describe a rare candidate who is perfect for a specific job. A purple squirrel is nearly mythical in nature, and this individual has the precise skills, education, qualifications, and abilities to fill the job requirements perfectly.
The term purple squirrel is also used to indicate that the perfect candidate is as elusive as a purple squirrel. In some cases, the usage of the term is an indication that the requirements of the job are over-specific. A purple squirrel would typically be prepared to “hit the ground running” and handle all of a job’s responsibilities immediately.
A Harvard Business Review opinion suggests that the purple squirrel is unrealistic and the search for these individuals is a poor use of the recruiter’s time. If a company hopes to find a purple squirrel, jobs can remain unfilled for months.
When a recruiter or hiring manager uses the term “purple squirrel,” they are indicating that they’ve found the ideal candidate for a job.