Purple Squirrels, Wild Geese, and Your Wasted Time

Purple Squirrels, Wild Geese, and Your Wasted Time

Are you sending yourself off on wild goose chases? Have you convinced yourself the only search assignments out there are the ones next to impossible to fill? It’s important to understand that your clients or prospects are not the ones doing this to you: you are allowing it to be done to yourself. That may be harsh to hear at first, but it’s an important distinction to make. 

  • “Hey, go find me an astronaut / safety manager / welder / hairdresser / cowboy / R&D scientist and then I’ll sign your fee agreement.”
  • “Yeah we need a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt plant manager with 20 years of experience for $12/hr. If you can find me that person, I’ll hire him on the spot! PS: No relo.” 

Most of us have at least one fantastic story of a time when we found the elusive purple squirrel. It’s important to understand those times are the exception and not the rule. If you are trying to run your desk or operate your business solely on weird, oddball job orders, you are doomed to feast/famine cycles, a lot of frustration, and frequent feelings of dissatisfaction. 

We are humans, too– we like Ws more than Ls. You’ll pick up more wins if you set and maintain strong boundaries on who gets access to your time. One of the easiest safeguards you can establish is this: create a one candidate rule. If you are working with a new prospect and you need to ensure that they will give you timely, honest feedback on resumes submitted, start with one. I once had a prospect who asked for a bundle of resumes: “Do not send one resume at a time. Send us five or six in a bundle and we will make a decision from there.” Umm, no. Not gonna happen. As you can probably guess I was certainly glad that I tested the water with one candidate because it became very clear that the prospect was not going to be cooperative and was not going to move in anything resembling a timely fashion. If I had gone off to find five or six qualified candidates, vetted them, packaged them up, and then sent them into the no-feedback-vortex, I would have been very irate. And broke.

Dr. Phil’s oft-quoted line is true: you teach people how to treat you. It is true in the business world just as it is in your personal life. Starting with the “one candidate at a time” rule will be very helpful in both establishing a clear boundary and testing the waters with a prospect to determine their true level of investment. 

Are you struggling with setting and keeping boundaries? Do you ever feel that you’ve allowed a client or a prospect to use you as a doormat? Let me know.

No Comments

Leave a Reply