A Purple Squirrel: How to Become the Perfect Job Applicant

How to become a purple squirrel

Tired of feeling like just another face in the crowd when applying for jobs? Make yourself into a purple squirrel – the “perfect” candidate all HRs are looking for.

Becoming a purple squirrel may not be easy but it’s definitely worth it.

What Is a Purple Squirrel?

In the world of hiring and recruiting, a “purple squirrel” is a term used to describe an extremely rare and exceptional job candidate. Just like you’d rarely come across a purple squirrel in nature, finding a candidate who has the perfect combination of skills and qualifications for a specific job is incredibly uncommon.

Employers use the term “purple squirrel” when they’re looking for someone who has a unique set of abilities that perfectly match what they need. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack because these candidates are so hard to come by.

How to Become a Purple Squirrel?

Identify Your Strengths

Take some time to understand your unique skills, experiences, and qualities that set you apart from others. What makes you special? Recognize and embrace these strengths.

Pro Tip
Consider taking the StrengthsFinder 2.0 Assessment developed by Gallup. It helps identify your unique strengths and provides insights into how you can leverage them effectively. The assessment results can guide you in understanding and embracing your strengths, enhancing self-awareness, and building a personal brand that highlights your exceptional qualities.

Stay Informed

Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and developments in your field of interest. Continuously learn and expand your knowledge base to stay ahead of the game.

Pro Tip
Join industry-specific LinkedIn groups and communities where professionals share insights, discuss emerging trends, and share valuable resources. Engaging in these communities allows you to network with like-minded individuals, gain knowledge from experts, and participate in industry discussions.

Specialize And Diversify

Develop a deep expertise in a specific area while also acquiring a diverse skill set. Having a specialization and being versatile will make you a well-rounded candidate.

Pro Tip
Explore online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning, which offer a wide range of courses and certifications across various subjects. These platforms allow you to learn at your own pace and acquire both specialized and diverse skills to enhance your professional profile.

Tailor Your Resume

Customize your resume for each job application, highlighting the most relevant skills and experiences that align with the job requirements. Show how your unique combination of qualifications makes you a perfect fit.

Pro Tip
Consider using professional resume templates available online. Websites like Canva, Microsoft Word, or Google Docs offer a variety of templates that can help you structure and format your resume effectively. These templates can be customized to suit your needs and make the tailoring process more seamless.

Network Effectively

Build a strong professional network by attending industry events, engaging on social media platforms, and connecting with professionals in your field. Networking can open doors to hidden opportunities.

Pro Tip
LinkedIn is a powerful platform for professional networking. Take advantage of its features, such as connecting with professionals, joining relevant groups, and utilizing the LinkedIn messaging system. Additionally, LinkedIn offers resources like webinars, articles, and job listings that can further enhance your networking efforts.

Polish Your Online Presence

Maintain a professional online presence by optimizing your LinkedIn profile and showcasing your achievements and projects. Be active in relevant online communities to establish yourself as an industry expert.

Pro Tip
Google yourself: run a search of your own name to see what information comes up. Ensure that the search results reflect your professional image positively. If necessary, take steps to address any issues or inconsistencies that may arise. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise by sharing valuable content on your LinkedIn feed or other platforms relevant to your industry. This can include articles, blog posts, industry news, or thought leadership pieces.

Master the Art of Storytelling

Craft compelling stories that illustrate your accomplishments, challenges overcome, and the impact you’ve made in previous roles. Effective storytelling can leave a lasting impression on employers.

Pro Tip
Watch TED Talks or other storytelling-focused presentations to gain insights into effective storytelling techniques. These talks often showcase compelling narratives delivered by skilled speakers, providing inspiration and guidance for crafting your own impactful stories.

Prepare for Interviews

Research the company thoroughly and anticipate common interview questions. Practice your responses, focusing on how your unique attributes align with the company’s needs.

Pro Tip
Utilize websites like Glassdoor to gain insights into the interview experiences of others who have interviewed with the company you’re applying to. It can provide valuable information about the interview process, types of questions asked, and the company’s culture. This knowledge can help you better prepare and anticipate what to expect during your interview.

Embrace Continuous Improvement

Be open to feedback and strive for self-improvement. Seek opportunities for professional development, attend workshops, and take on new challenges to enhance your skill set.

Pro Tip
LinkedIn Learning offers a wide range of online courses covering various topics and industries. It provides an accessible platform for continuous learning, allowing you to acquire new skills, expand your knowledge, and stay current with industry trends. Take advantage of the diverse course offerings to fuel your continuous improvement journey.

Demonstrate Passion And Enthusiasm

Show genuine excitement for the industry and the role you’re applying for. Let your enthusiasm shine through in interviews and interactions, as it can make a memorable impression on employers.

Pro Tip
Prepare examples that highlight your enthusiasm and dedication. Discuss projects, initiatives, or experiences where your passion for the industry or role shined through. Describe the impact you made and the satisfaction you derived from these experiences. Specific examples can make your enthusiasm tangible and memorable.

How to Show You Are a Purple Squirrel?

To show you are a “purple squirrel,” an exceptional job candidate, follow these key steps:

  • Highlight your unique skills and qualifications that align with the job requirements.
  • Demonstrate a track record of outstanding achievements and results in your previous roles.
  • Showcase a diverse skill set that combines specialization in a specific area with versatility in other relevant skills.
  • Personalize your application materials, such as your resume and cover letter, to showcase your perfect fit for the role.
  • Clearly articulate how your unique attributes make you stand out from other candidates.
  • Leverage your professional network to gain insights and connections in your desired industry.

Become the Perfect Candidate: Resources (books, courses, Traqq)

Here are some resources that can help you become the perfect candidate:


  • “The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter” by Michael D. Watkins: Offers guidance on navigating the critical first months of a new job and accelerating your career progression.
  • “Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions” by Gayle Laakmann McDowell: Specifically tailored for technical roles, it provides insights and practice questions to excel in coding interviews.
  • “The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything” by Guy Kawasaki: Offers practical advice for entrepreneurs and professionals looking to launch their careers or businesses successfully.

Online Courses and Platforms:

  • LinkedIn Learning: Offers a wide range of courses covering various professional skills, from leadership and project management to technical skills and communication. Access to a vast library of courses can enhance your knowledge and expertise.
  • Coursera: Provides online courses from leading universities and institutions on various subjects. Explore courses related to your field of interest to gain in-depth knowledge and acquire new skills.
  • Udemy: Offers a vast selection of courses, including both technical and non-technical topics. Browse through their extensive catalog to find courses that align with your career goals and aspirations.

Productivity Tools:

  • Traqq: Traqq is a time tracking and productivity tool that helps you stay organized and efficient. It allows you to track your work hours, analyze your productivity, and manage tasks effectively. Traqq can be useful for enhancing your time management skills and optimizing your productivity.

Here’s more: The Ultimate Guide on Time Management

Remember to assess your specific needs and goals when selecting resources. These recommendations serve as a starting point to explore further and find the ones that align with your career objectives and learning style.

Why Purple Squirrels Don’t Always Get the Job

While purple squirrels possess rare and sought-after qualifications, there are instances where they may not secure a job. Here are a few reasons why an HR manager may think twice before going for the perfect candidate;

  • Being too qualified for a position can sometimes work against a purple squirrel. Employers may worry that they will be dissatisfied or leave quickly for more challenging opportunities, leading them to choose a candidate who aligns more closely with the job requirements.
  • Purple squirrel candidates often possess specialized skills that may not be in high demand or have limited job openings available. In such cases, even though they may be exceptional, the lack of suitable positions can hinder their chances of securing a job
  • While qualifications are important, employers also consider cultural fit and the ability to work well within a team. If a purple squirrel does not align with the company’s values, work style, or team dynamics, it may impact their chances of being selected for the role.
  • Sometimes, when candidates are really smart and talented, it can make their bosses and coworkers feel a bit threatened. They might worry that these candidates want to take control or overshadow others, causing some tension within the company.
  • Purple squirrels may not have a strong professional network or connections within the industry. This can make it challenging to gain visibility and access to job opportunities, even with their exceptional qualifications.
  • Despite being exceptional, purple squirrel candidates may face intense competition from other highly qualified individuals. Factors such as timing, market conditions, or the presence of other candidates with similar qualifications can influence the final hiring decision.
  • Hiring such candidates can cost both, your pocket and time as special efforts are required to hire special candidates. This is why HR managers may opt for more “easily available”  applicants to save both time and money.

Summing Things Up

Becoming a “purple squirrel” is an attainable goal for job seekers who are willing to invest in their personal and professional growth. We hope we’ve been able to offer you a comprehensive and actionable roadmap to excel in your job search. With dedication, perseverance, and the right strategies, anyone can become that elusive “purple squirrel” and land their dream job.


What Is the Purple Squirrel Strategy?

The Purple Squirrel Strategy is when job seekers aim to be extraordinary candidates by having a perfect match of skills and qualifications for a specific job. It means showing unique abilities that make them stand out from others. By being a “purple squirrel,” they increase their chances of getting the job they want and impressing employers.

What Is a Unicorn in Recruitment?

A unicorn refers to an exceptionally rare and highly desirable job candidate. Just like the mythical creature it is named after, a unicorn candidate possesses a unique combination of skills, qualifications, and experiences that are extremely hard to find.

What Is Purple Squirrel Meaning in Business?

In the business context, “purple squirrel” means finding an individual with rare and exceptional skills that perfectly fit the needs of a particular business. It’s about finding someone special who can bring valuable contributions to the company. In fact, it’s quite similar to what “a purple squirrel” means in recruitment. The difference is in the context: in business, finding a purple squirrel emphasizes the difficulty businesses face in finding individuals with the precise combination of qualities needed to address specific business needs.

Who Is a Purple Squirrel Hunter?

A “purple squirrel hunter” refers to a recruiter or hiring manager who actively searches for and seeks out those exceptional job candidates known as “purple squirrels.” They are on a mission to find individuals who possess a unique and rare combination of skills, qualifications, and experiences that perfectly match the requirements of a specific job or role.

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