How To Find The Elusive Purple Squirrel

How To Find The Elusive Purple Squirrel

Stop searching. They don’t exist. Seriously.

Waiting for the perfect civil engineer to walk through your office doors can be detrimental to your business and will lead to stagnation, stress, and disappointment.  So often times I find employers suffering from “paralysis by analysis” as they struggle in identifying candidates that have the 20 exact skills they are looking for when they can rather make significant progress hiring someone that may only have 15!  Here are a few ways to identify maybe some magenta squirrels that could one day become your own in-house, fully purple squirrel:

  1.  Look internally.  Identify your internal stand-out superstars, then look beyond their accomplishments and evaluate their potential to become what it is you need.
  2. Create the purple squirrel.  Closely tied to my first point, but whether you promote from within or hire from outside, there are many civil engineering professionals who are talented and driven who would like to take on a new challenge or learn something new.  I realize this means less utilization at first as they step into a new role and learn the ropes, but you would be amazed at what one can accomplish when actually challenged to broaden their skill set,  or when the odds may even be stacked against him/her.
  3. Venture out amongst the squirrels.  Squirrels are out and about, jumping from tree to tree, gathering nuts.  Make sure you are active in the local civil engineering trade organizations, networking events, city/county/municipal meetings and hearings, etc. Again, you likely won’t find the purple squirrel, but there are plenty of those magenta squirrels if you look for them.
  4. Cast a larger geographic net.  Just because someone is not local does not mean they could not be great for your firm.  Often times smaller firms, and even some larger firms, are hesitant to pay for the relocation of a candidate.  Step back and take a look at the big picture.   Offering to pay $10,000 to relocate someone may offer a significant return in investment longer term.  The burden of finding someone is gone, you are now billing that person out, you are able to take on more business, you are able to transition some of your work onto that employee freeing up more of your time to focus on building the business and enhancing client relations…the list goes on and on, so don’t be short sighted when it comes to relocation.
  5. Shout if from the mountain tops.  Have your network work for you. If you are hunting down the elusive purple squirrel, or better yet some closely knit version, individually you can only do so much.  But if you make your trusted staff, clients, and peers aware of your vision they can be tremendous resources.  Those magenta squirrels tend to travel in the same circles.

Happy Hunting!

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