Skip to content

How to Find Your Purple Squirrel: Putting Soft Skills Assessments to Work

If you’re a talent acquisition professional, you know finding candidates isn’t the tough part. The struggle comes when trying to find the right candidate. Job descriptions usually come with a laundry list of skills-related qualifications attached. 

Why is this an issue?

Recruiters and HR managers face the so-called “purple squirrel” problem. The term “purple squirrel” describes the perfect candidate with precisely the right education, set of experience, and range of qualifications to fit a job requisition. 

Have you ever seen a purple squirrel in the wild? Nope. 

You know why? Because they don’t exist!

In the end, many times, hiring managers and recruiters end up deadlocked – no one is happy with the candidate pool, no one is happy with the end result, and everyone suffers with a role that sits open waiting for a purple squirrel for far too long.

Simply put, candidate selection based exclusively on skill sets and resume reviews is bad corporate practice.

What’s stepping in to fill these outdated shoes? Soft skills assessments.

Soft skills assessments of traits, personality, and other types of subjective preferences are increasingly being used to assess job fit. Why do they work so well? Personality is a scientifically-proven predictor of job performance, and assessing a candidate’s probable behavior in a work environment allows recruiters to better understand if a candidate will indeed be a top performer and if they will fit the culture of the company.

Why are soft skills assessments better than hard skills driven methods?

  1. Hard skills are in short supply. In the United States, for example, there are 6.8 million openings with only 5.8 million unemployed Americans to fill them. Taking skills mismatches into account,  filling that skilled role gets even bleaker. When a specific skill set is the be-all-end-all for a positive hiring decision, a company may come up empty-handed, and a critical role may remain unfilled, negatively impacting the company’s bottom line. Hard skills are much easier to teach than soft skills, so many employers are moving to measure more “hard-wired” characteristics. 
  2. Soft skills work better. Data-driven models to predict success based on personality traits and attributes tailored to the specific organization can be up to four times more predictive of job and organizational success than traditional screening methods that tend to focus more heavily on hard skill sets.
  3. Soft skills promote hiring equity. Focusing on soft skills helps to even the playing field for candidates from underrepresented groups who may not have had the same opportunity to acquire hard skills. This can help increase the diversity of candidates coming through the pipeline.

Cangrade’s soft skills assessments can help your team root your candidate selection process in data. We build customized success models for your company and for the specific role itself. How do we do this? We use our AI-backed soft skills assessments to unpack your current employees’ success and to predict your candidates’ future. Contact us to see how we can help you find the right candidate for your role.