A recent article on the rise of hybrid jobs caught my attention. It refers to new types of jobs that require non-traditional pairings of skill sets. In particular, when the author discussed the term "purple squirrels," it brought back memories! This term is commonly used in the staffing industry. It refers to people with a rare combination of skill sets. So rare, it takes a ridiculous amount of effort to identify and hire them. If you've ever worked in recruiting, then you've likely dealt with a hiring manager who's asked for the impossible. You know, the one that wants, "a bilingual brain surgeon who will be happy with $10 an hour." When I worked in staffing, I remember cringing when requests for purple squirrels came in. Why? They were hard to find and usually required a lot of money to woo away from their current employers. Which is EXACTLY why every job seeker today should strive to be one!

Want to skip the job search and make recruiters come to you? Strive to be a purple squirrel. 

When you brand yourself the right way, you will build a reputation for your unique combination of skills and find recruiters knocking on your doors--or at least asking you to connect on LinkedIn. All it takes is a little research and some keyword optimization and you can improve the chances you get discovered. Here's what to do:

Step 1: Collect attractive job postings.

Find five to 10 job opportunities you are interested in where you feel you're at least a 70 percent or higher match. They should be in the same industry or skill set in order to provide some focus on the content.

Step 2: Create a word cloud.

Copy and paste the text of all the job postings in an online word cloud creator to see which hard and soft skill sets are most common across them. You'll be amazed at which key terms are popular--many of which you might not even have listed on important career tools, i.e., your résumé​ and LinkedIn profile.

Step 3: Add relevant keywords in strategic places.

Take the top 10 to 12 skill sets and add them to your LinkedIn profile and résumé​ in strategic places. For example, the terms you put in your LinkedIn headline matter greatly. It's prime real estate--when a recruiter uses a key skill set in their search parameters and you have it in your headline, the chances you'll show up in their search results increases. And the more keywords you have in the headline that match their search, the higher in the results you'll appear.

P.S. When it comes to job security, "brand or BE branded."

Being a purple squirrel is useless if nobody knows it. Branding your unique combination of skills is one of the best ways to ensure you'll be found more frequently. While every job is temporary, you can create job security for yourself in the form of a good personal brand. The more people who understand the problems you solve and the pain you alleviate for your employers, the easier it is for them to imagine you working at their companies. 

Published on: Mar 22, 2019
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