Finding the ‘Perfect’ Match – Do you really NEED the Unicorn?

Finding the “right” mix between what you “need” someone to have…and what you “want” someone to have in order to employ someone to be “successful” in a role….is not always clear cut. Emotions and idealisation get in the road more times than not…..


When recruiting for a role, I spend time with my client discussing their business, their existing staff, the work culture and importantly….what someone will be actually doing in this position that they need to fill.


I work closely with my clients so that both of us can be on the same page….and to try to ensure the role is “fillable” – I give them my understanding of the market, my expectations around the types of people who will apply, and the salary range needed to attract quality candidates. In return, they give me their ‘Needs’ and ‘Desires’ about their future employee.


As I screen, I keep those ‘Needs’ and ‘Desires’ in mind, but largely focus on the ‘Needs’ while long-listing applicants:

  • Does the candidate have the core skillset?
  • Do they have the right level of experience?
  • Have they worked in industries relevant to the company?
  • Do they have the ability to adapt quickly and learn the new products & skills required?
  • Will they be motivated to do this role?


When I have my long list of candidates, I am able to screen-in and develop a shortlist – which focuses more closely on the ‘Desires’ of my clients:

  • Has the candidate worked for Company X, Y or Z?
  • Has the candidate worked in Industry X?
  • Does the candidate have experience using Program X?
  • Does the candidate have a commute under 30 minutes?


In many cases, candidates will fulfil my clients’ ‘Needs’ but not all of their ‘Desires’. For most employers this is not an issue, and they will interview applicants to find the best fit – knowing that someone with the core skills and motivation can be taught. However, there are some clients who will pass on potentially long term suitable candidates as they want to hold out for an “exact match”.


The biggest difficulty with trying to attract and employ a Unicorn, is that you need that Unicorn to be looking for a new role….at the same time you’re advertising… within reasonable commuting distance…..and seeking a similar salary to that on offer….and then still be the right fit for your business and work culture. (Stay tuned next week for a refresh on one of my previous blogs on this Attracting Candidates: Will I be “Happier” working for You??)


You may end up wasting a great deal of time AND money on searching for the ‘Perfect Candidate’…..and STILL be unable to find the elusive Unicorn.


I encourage prospective employers to be mindful of balancing their ‘Needs’ and ‘Desires’, and deciding which aspects are most important for an employee to be successful in the role Long Term:

  • Could you train them to use industry specific programs or not?
  • Is relevant industry experience acceptable even if it isn’t exactly Industry X?
  • Are you willing to pay a higher salary to get your Unicorn?


While finding a Unicorn would be great, it is important to consider the reality of the market and to ensure that if you do find one….that it is not a donkey…..with something stuck on its head.


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