How to land a Purple Squirrel Recruiter…

psThere’s been a real shift in the recruitment landscape over the past few months. The ‘purple squirrel’ recruiter… you know… the one that has experience, commercial acumen, deep networks, stable background and a strong billing history… as well as one head, emotional intelligence and nice to boot is not extinct. In fact, this group (and let’s face it, I’m not the only one who thought they were an urban myth), is appearing in numbers all over the globe – not unlike the return of the white walkers following an absence of a thousand years… (apologies to the 3 non-GOT fans out there).

So, what does this mean? I’m sure recruitment owners are rubbing their hands with glee… plotting their inevitable rise to world domination, by harnessing the power of the purple squirrel and winning market share… I can picture you now… but… hold on a minute tiger… are you positioned to win the talent? What can you offer them that gives you the edge in this ultimate battle for talent…evil


Well this is where I come in… me… and my how to hunt, trap & breed purple squirrels guide… please read on.

Culture – Are you providing the right work culture? This is one where you recognise each consultants’ motivators and provide an environment which caters for them… based on recognition of success.

Commission & Bonus – If your commission structure is confusing, discretionary, relies on all parts of the team hitting their targets, includes the word deficit, doesn’t include kickers, is unrealistic… and doesn’t support a high biller earning more… much more… then it is wrong. I could write an entire post about the importance of a competitive commission structure… and I probably will one day. In the meantime, I’m only a phone call away… let’s discuss yours.

Point of Difference – What’s your value proposition to the market? In a sea of recruitment companies what makes yours so appealing to your clients? Purple squirrels want to know this… and they will ask you.

Tools of Trade – What tools do you provide your billing consultants? A desktop computer and a handful of business cards doesn’t cut it.

Be Social – And I don’t mean Friday Night Drinks. I mean your business, your brand and your staff need to be Social Media savvy. You must have a presence in LinkedIn, probably Twitter, Facebook… Do you blog? Do you manage an Online Talent Community that engages prospects? I can see the ‘old school’ business owners rolling their eyes right about now… guess what? You guys may have a bunch of grey squirrels, but the purple ones will be looking elsewhere…

There are many aspects that make an appealing workplace… and if you are not constantly evolving you will lose your appeal very… very quickly.

If you are a purple squirrel in the wrong habitat… or a recruitment business who wants to attract the best talent, and is ready and willing to make changes to do so… then contact me… it’s what I do for a living.

Craig Watson – 0414 341 843


7 thoughts on “How to land a Purple Squirrel Recruiter…

  1. Mark on Reply

    HI Craig

    Interested to gain your further thoughts on commission.
    Its always been assumed that the number 1 motivator of consultants is commission, that people leave and take jobs based on a company’s commission structure.

    It isn’t very clear cut in my mind. I’ve worked with lots of consultants over the years and I’ve never know anyone leave a company purely due to bonus, probably the same when joining a company.
    That said, I don’t know many, if any recruiters who would endure their job if there wasn’t the opportunity of earning commission of some sort so that must tell us something.

    Aside from industry norms, every recent psychological study into workplace motivation shows us that for anything beyond basic cognitive tasks then monetary reward drives poor performance.
    Once you pay someone enough basic salary that they don’t spend all their time wondering how they can afford lunch then money negates creative thought and performance suffers.
    Teamwork is an interesting subject too when it comes to bonuses; you can’t pay an individual commission based on individual performance and expect collaboration, humans just don’t work that way.

    I think as an industry we are just starting to recognise the importance of other motivators in the workplace – e.g. flexible work conditions, mentoring, environment etc; maybe one day commission will be a thing of the past, or maybe it will be here forever…who knows.

    Anyway, thanks for continually providing a great blog.

    1. Craig Watson on Reply

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the note. I think that as an industry we are guilty of pretending we know what motivates someone, when we don’t… I meet with many, many recruiters looking for their next opportunity, and if I had a dollar for everyone of them that answered ‘Money’ when I ask what motivates them I would be writing this from a very nice beach on my own private island… The facts tell us that money is not a motivator… it’s what people want to do with that money that is the true motivator… buy a house… get kids into private education… retire etc. Until we know the answer to that we can’t expect to engage and develop effectively.
      In terms of commission I think people will leave companies that have a structure that is not transparent, or discretionary, or just plain dishonest… But attracting based solely on commission is not as likely to happen…


    2. Lewis on Reply

      Yeah I would definitely like to see an entire post about the importance of a competitive commission structure! Look forward to that one being posted.

      This was a good read, thanks for posting Craig.

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