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Unicorn Employee: Does The Perfect Job Candidate Exist?

As I prepare to re-enter the workforce, I have come across many job postings and the qualifications that compose them. I quickly recognized that companies want it all – someone with a CPA and MBA, Big Four experience, relevant experience in their industry, ERP knowledge of their specific system, plus four years of experience in SAP S4 Hana, your name must be Taylor, and you have to speak four languages. Okay, the last couple of points are embellishments, but some companies are searching for a perfect candidate instead of developing great talent into their superstar employee. It raises the question: does the perfect candidate even exist?


It is important to note, that it is okay for companies to search for the perfect candidate and desire everything of them. We are in or approaching an employer market – meaning that there is a larger supply of talent and fewer available hiring opportunities, therefore giving employers more options. The real question here isn’t if organizations are wrong, but if the perfect candidate exists – are unicorn employees real?

The answer is maybe. Some people will meet almost every qualification, even if they are a small minority. Those folks are unicorns – or the closest to it. That said, unicorn employees are most times searching for unicorn companies – a company that aligns with their values, compensates well, and meets their other wants or needs. Also, the concept of a unicorn employee is subjective. I have friends and colleagues actively searching for roles who are licensed, credentialed, educated, and experienced, yet they are experiencing challenges in this job market.


The lesson for potential job seekers in this current market is to invest in yourself. Now is a good time to pursue a graduate degree or acquire licensure if you recognize many openings preferring or requiring such qualifications. These things are not achieved overnight but will aid in your career journey. It also helps to make your aspirations known to potential employers because it illustrates your devotion to your growth and development.


So, should employers stop striving to find the perfect candidate? Ultimately, that is their prerogative, but perfection doesn’t exist. My peers and I have discussed at length open job opportunities – some turned down because there was no alignment on values, flexibility, and benefits – that are still “urgently” searching for candidates for months. Some organizations are not budging on their lengthy list of wants, however, it burdens the company and team managing the additional workload.


Here is the truth: many folks desire to be developed and coached to become unicorn employees. Many times great managers develop ideal employees. Leaders recognize candidates who align with the company’s needs and can adapt to grow to help achieve results. After all, unicorns aren’t real, but people are. It is time to re-enter reality and bring humanity and talent development back into the hiring process.

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