Looking for Purple Squirrels? Try a 'MOOC'

Looking for Purple Squirrels? Try a 'MOOC'  


(Originally posted 5/22/2013 in The Staffing Stream)

If your recruiting team is like most today, you have countless job orders going unfilled. Why?

One reason is that more and more employers are looking for that perfect “Purple Squirrel” candidate — the one with the exact qualifications, education, salary expectations, and soft skills desired; and they’re not hiring until they find them.

The “MOOCs” solution
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are large online college classes available for little or no cost, and open to anyone interested worldwide. Courses are typically taught by star faculty from top-tier universities like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, CalTech, and UT Austin. Since the term was first coined five years ago, MOOC companies like CourseraUdacity, and EdX have enrolled more than 5 million students in assorted IT, business, math, science, humanities and arts classes. As a result, these online courses have been disrupting academia and capturing headlines as the biggest innovation in education for this era.

So what does this mean for Staffing?

  • MOOCs expand the overall skilled talent pool. Participants on MOOC platforms are accessing classes and learning skills previously available only to a few select Ivy Leaguers. These new platforms, therefore, are creating an expansive global talent pool of highly skilled and tech savvy individuals.
  • Employers want what MOOCs are teaching. Not only are MOOC students voluntarily mastering in-demand academic subjects, they’re also demonstrating key soft skills employers look for today: Self-motivation, Adaptability, Collaboration, and Drive for Learning, etc.
  • MOOCs recruit. Recruiting is actually built into several MOOC models. For example, Cousera offers employee-matching services introducing high performing students with enterprise partners; and Google, Amazon, and Facebook are already using similar sourcing strategies provided by Udacity.
  • MOOCs are ideal for identifying Purple Squirrels. Much like recruiting at Hackathons, and business or science competitions, MOOCs provide visibility and insight to high achieving participants’ capabilities—exactly the kind of places that Purple Squirrels can be found.

The Bottom Line
By incorporating these new educational platforms into recruiting activities, contingent workforce providers can deepen and broaden their skilled talent pool, find more Purple Squirrels, and increase placements. More placements equal more revenue going directly to the bottom line. Simply put, leveraging MOOCs in the Staffing business just makes good dollars and sense.

Key Recommendations
How can you leverage these platforms into your recruiting activities today? Here are three tactics:

  1. Offer information on MOOC courses to your Contingent Workforce. Include links to targeted classes on your company website for quick and easy participation.
  2. Search for MOOCs listed on résumés and social media profiles. Include MOOC courses, certificates, and company names in boolean and key word searches when sourcing.
  3. Enroll in a MOOC. Take relevant courses for professional development, and build relationships with top talent in your courses.

Try it out for yourself, and watch as your Purple Squirrel pipeline grows!