How to Find the 1 in a Million Electrical Engineer

by Susan Henson
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For the past couple of months, Amtec has been telling stories about our amazing technical recruiters, and some of their most challenging candidate-finding expeditions they have embarked on for clients. These expeditions take our recruiters near and far, looking under every rock for a candidate that fits a client’s practically impossible list of job requirements, or seemingly absurd combination of skills.

A job candidate who can meet impossible requirements is called, in the recruiting industry, a purple squirrel. 

What is a Purple Squirrel?

Although every recruiter approaches finding purple squirrels in different ways, a common thread is time. Generally, these searches take much more time and you have to start with a larger data set to find a higher number of qualified candidates. 

Amtec’s Senior recruiter and former NFL player Luke Marquardt got a purple squirrel challenge in 2020.

Luke has been recruiting in the construction and engineering space and has been serving his client Rex Moore Electrical Contractor and Engineers, a design/build leader in the electrical contracting industry for the last year. 

The Job Description

Rex Moore needed an electrical engineer, but not just any engineer. The company needed one who had knowledge and experience of OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) requirements for design health care code for electrical design. Also, this person needed to have a specific Professional Engineering California license.

For the past five years, Luke explained, he has only come across a handful of candidates who have both commercial electrical design combined with healthcare/OSHPD project design experience.  The initial research to source candidates was the first indicator this was going to be a tough assignment. Luke told his client to be prepared. It would take time—up to six months—to source a well-qualified candidate since people with this combo of skill are in short supply, and when they are available, they get picked up quickly. 

Timing is Everything

Fortunately for Luke, after a relatively short search, the purple squirrel was found! The candidate the correct experience and certifications, and his current company had a slowdown and he had been recently laid off. The bonus: he was open to relocation. 

Are purple Squirrels Worth the Wait?

Yes, said Luke, and he expects his clients will continue to give him job orders with difficult requirements. But now, with work life and office life upended because of the pandemic, its Luke’s job to assess if a candidate has the additional skills to work remotely if required due to the pandemic. 

“Working remotely, especially in a team environment, requires some additional skills, like communication for example,” said Luke. “I get to that conclusion by asking a series of questions about their experience working remotely,  and what I am trying to evaluate is their effectiveness. His favorite question? “What does your home office environment look like, and describe how it makes you a more effective worker?”

How to Hire A Purple Squirrel

If you are in the engineering or construction field and you are struggling with finding candidates for your open jobs, call Luke. His expertise in the field can accelerate the hiring process to meet your staffing needs. 

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