Talent Management

Recruiting the Elusive Unicorn

1 March 2019

4 min
Building the perfect business is no easy task. To achieve growth and success, you’ll need more than a solid business strategy, but an exceptional team to help breathe life into it. Chances are, HR departments have already painted the portrait of the ever-elusive perfect candidate – the Unicorn who somehow seems to not exist. Everybody is looking for one!

Fortunately, they do, but you’ll have to graze in different fields to attract them: they’re fleet of foot and tremendously difficult to catch.


What they are and how to find them

To say that a Unicorn is simply the perfect candidate, is insufficient at best – these diamonds in the rough are essential to growth and can guide you in directions you never thought possible; a veritable secret weapon, so to speak. Unicorns tend to possess an arsenal of skills, serious drive and ambition, natural talent and is a natural born leader – all of which combine perfectly, making for an A-list all-star employee. Unfortunately, most Unicorns are already happily engaged in work they love and not actively looking for new positions.

So how does one go about recruiting the ever-elusive Unicorn? Well, we’ll just have to think outside the box now, won’t we? Thankfully, no superpowers are required in the endless pursuit of the Unicorn; they must simply be attracted as opposed to recruited. While you are looking for new candidates, it is always important to ensure you are looking at your internal pool. Do you have the tools to leverage your in-house talent?

Since Unicorns tend to be picky when it comes to who they work for, you’ll need to make sure you have an awesome work environment, a clean reputation and a clearly defined corporate mission. Unicorns want a flexible environment in which they can freely roam about. A great environment, wellbeing initiatives and flexible work policies are among some of the top attractions. Make sure that this environment is clearly promoted through your employer brand – and if it isn’t, make sure you enhance your brand – it’s one of the best ways for Unicorns to take notice.

Unicorns are extremely passionate about what they do, so if you’re looking to get their undivided attention, you should strive to be a thought leader in your industry. In a candidate driven world, you can be certain that Unicorns are only looking for top companies that will help them truly make use of their skills, so the more original and compelling your content – and overall image – is, the more likely you’ll be to cross paths.

Finally, put your investments to good use: leverage your technology to identify, track, and catch that unicorn! Whether its already roaming in your pasture or galivanting in the wild.

OK, now how do I retain my Unicorn?

Here’s the scenario: you’ve got the brand, you are the thought-leader and you’ve successfully conquered the reputation realm. You’ve found your Unicorn, interviewed them and now hired them – fully forging forward to shape the future of the business. Now you can rest easy; the hard part is over, right?

Well, you’re wrong: even though Unicorns are highly skilled and naturally talented, they will also need the motivation to stay. After all, they did leave their previous employer for you, didn’t they? Of course, they did; and the sooner you come to this realization, the easier the next (and most difficult) step will be. Of course, we’re referring to retaining your Unicorn.

First and foremost, you’ll need to foster development. Like any employee, Unicorns crave to continuously develop their skills, so you must ensure your organization will provide them with every opportunity to do so. Arranging quarterly field-related training is a great way to quell that hunger, especially if its offsite: after all, who wouldn’t want to escape the winter for a week in California, even if they’re working?

Next, you’ll want to focus on open-mindedness and communication. Engaging in constant open dialogue is a great way to show employees that their opinions and input are truly valued. “Stay” interviews have also been of great success: giving Unicorns a chance to express what you’re doing right as well as what you’re doing wrong, is an excellent way to show just how dedicated the organization is toward growth. Though this open-door communication policy is of great value to Unicorns, employers must also keep an open mind when it comes to new ideas.

Although it goes without saying, rewards, benefits and fair remuneration should also be kept top of mind. A reward or bonus for a job well done, and competitive remuneration for your Unicorn will keep them healthy, happy and constantly striving for more. Never forget that your best assets should always be kept motivated.

That’s all there is to it

In a job market where, according to LinkedIn, 83% of employed members consider themselves passive job hunters, 60% of Northamericans are open to the idea of a new opportunity (Jobvite Social Jobseeker Survey) and 37% of all workers consider quitting – with 43% of those being Gen Xers (Kelly Services) – it’s not difficult to see why even Unicorns would consider joining your team.

But with that in mind, of course, should you ever get to hire the elusive Unicorn, be sure to adequately invest in their skills; otherwise you just may become part of the statistics above.

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