Civil Engineering Recruitment – It’s time to give up the unicorn hunt


opinion, recruitment,


It’s time to give up the unicorn hunt – STOP looking for the perfect Candidate

It dropped into my inbox overnight like a magical beast running on the periphery of a dream, like the creature of mythical status with a distinct glow that lit my slumber…. it was an email with a list of demands.

He had worked for me before. Still relatively young, successful in profession and family, he had three children and a stable relationship with his high school sweetheart.

He had a list of written references that if you hadn’t known him as intimately as I had, you would have thought them made up. The past senior manager’s hand-written note after his part in a successful major project, the past client who said they would gravitate to companies that employed more of him as he was honest, and he delivered. His CV was perfect proof that he was on an upward career trajectory.

But he was sick of the major projects and the life they demanded. Long hours, stress, moving every two to three years, uprooting family again. He wanted to settle down, grow some roots.

I had the perfect role. It would stretch him, would also pay well, was in a regional area perfect for a young family to settle and grow. The role and area would allow more time for him and his family while giving him challenges professionally. It met his demands perfectly……and he was the golden unicorn.

His wife didn’t feel the same enchantment that he, I and the client did. She wasn’t happy that the regional area didn’t have the Westfield, the cineplex complex, existing friends… so back on the major project roundabout they went. He ended it with an email with something along the lines of “happy wife, happy life.” I hope it was the right decision.

The internal Recruitment manager I was dealing with was exasperated and said, “there goes the golden unicorn” and he was right. There are not many around these days, these golden unicorns. The internal recruitment manager complained to me that all his hiring managers wanted was the mythical golden unicorn…They might be waiting a while.

There will be fewer of them every month we press on. We all mostly will have to make do, trying to find positive, transferable skills and experience in the people we hire and if we don’t have that vision and creativity, we will do without as this company is doing.

So, if you’re lucky enough to get a chance to employ one, treat them right and pay them in buckets of gold like unicorns deserve, as I’m sure they will reward you in the riches and magic they will bring.

I’m forever the optimist and believe you have to be to get by in life, but I am also a realist so I do realise not all my hires or finds will be such a mythical beast as the golden unicorn.

Good luck JH.

Peter Laver, Director

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