The Illusive “Unicorn” employee

As an employer, in the course of your talent search, you look for applicants that have the skills you need for the job. You sift through many resumes, some well written, while others you wonder for the survival of the human race. Then you hit that weird resume, that resume that hits all your like points, that resume that almost speaks to you alone just saying “I’m here”. You cannot put it aside, a possible candidate that appears while dealing with the mountain of resumes in front of you.

Immediately an interview has to be set, you cannot wait to find out if this person is real.  You meet with this person and all the bells and whistles just go off, you’ve found your candidate. Better than that!! He or she does not need to be trained!!! They know what you need, could this be true? Could you have found that elusive employee, the one all employers seek, but never find……” The Illusive Unicorn Employee”?

Conversation definition

As you may have guessed or experienced, the illusive unicorn employee is a term I have coined to those employees’ employers would do whatever it takes to have in their payroll. This is the type of employee which you feel if you had ten more of him/her in your business, you would be successful and profitable.

The reality is……. There is no such thing as a unicorn employee, but employers still look for them no matter what and they won’t admit it. There are two realities that come with this assumption:

First, if employers want to attract a more skilled workforce, they are going to have to consider making employee retention their first priority. This is where battles for talent begin when one employer recruits from a competitor by raising their wages (you would not believe what one dollar can do to start a person thinking about quitting to move over). For a job seeker this means the need to know your skills, their level of expertise and how to sell them (in an interview) has become more important than ever to know.

Second, in finding this “unicorn” an employer will immediately see this applicant was trained. An actual employer took their time and effort to invest in this individual. The employer taught them how to do the job, how to properly execute and maybe even improve on the job. All these are vital skills that add to the applicant’s portfolios. This is one solution builds employee loyalty to the company and lowers the uncertainty if combined with regular performance meetings.

At this time if you have noticed, I have not mentioned anything dealing with raises. A raise would be the most wonderful thing…. for the employee. If the company is not doing well, raises are at the bottom of list when it comes to progressive prosperity for a company. There are other ways to retain an employee other than giving him/her more money. Currently “value” comes from seeing your impact on the company and on the community. The Gordon Gecko moment of the 80’s has passed and instead employees want to see the impact they have on their communities and families.

In looking at this mythical employee and how important the conversation today for employers on how to deal with the retention, attraction and growth of their employees, we come back to the relationship of employers and employees broken for decades now. Employers today do not see the need to train or invest in their employee because the employee is transitory or just a commodity to use and dismiss at will. As with anything which looks as a promising idea in the short term, this creates its own beast. if the employer doesn’t take care of the employee, the employee will take what they can and leave. And that means that anything an employee learns or acquires from the employer they can take with them if they leave.

There must be a push for employers to start investing in the retention of employees that have spent time and effort with the company. To truly be successful as a business person, an employer must control a large majority of what affects their business, without this you will struggle on an ongoing basis. For the employee, it is a must that you know where you want your career to go and how to stay on top of it. If you know what you are worth, then you should go after it, of course, but the mission is simple……sustain a successful career.