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3 traits of exceptional ‘unicorn’ employees to look for when hiring

Finding unicorn employees are every hiring manager’s dream, but what should you look for to find them? We have the answer!

A black pug sits on a small seat in a unicorn onesie.

Every business owner wants to hire employees that they think will help the company or team stand out and represent their values. It’s not always easy to find people that display traits that perfectly represent their message, though. Most employers struggle with finding new workers, and though many don’t like to admit it, personality has a huge effect on whether you land a job or not. Finding that unicorn in the pack is a challenge.

Some hiring managers could take the advice of Mauro Porcini, the chief design officer at PepsiCo. Porcini says that he looks for people that are “unicorns.” 

What is a “unicorn?” Yes, they’re technically mystical ponies, but the term is also used to identify different types of people. According to the Chief Design Officer, this category of people has the perfect mix of skills and traits that make them the ideal innovator. Their personalities are a mix of natural talent and regular practice- well-rounded “people that are in love with other people.” I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “people person,” and may even associate that term with someone in your own life. 

One of their key attributes is the ability to conjure things that are attractive and valuable to other humans. Porcini looks for those that have a “human-centered” approach to business and innovation. 

Unicorns can be found anywhere- retail, office jobs, construction, etc. They are often found collaborating, trading, and creating with and for others. They are rarely satisfied with the bare minimum and tend to dream big and make big changes. Unicorns know that they can’t do it all alone, so they’re adept at being the ultimate team player. 

In Porcini’s new book, he goes over unicorns and categorizes them into three different categories. 

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Social Gifts 

Social gifts are what make unicorns team players. Porcini emphasizes the importance of kindness, empathy, and respect in group settings, stating that this will motivate your team to do their best.

Enabling Gifts

In a nutshell, the enabling gifts are the soft skills and traits that encourage a unicorn to utilize their skills to their highest potential. Unicorns are patient during discomfort because they know it’s a part of the process. 

Entrepreneurial Gifts

Entrepreneurial gifts are the skills that relate to your ability to develop innovative strategies. This includes a strong willingness to experiment and develop new ideas. Unicorns are known to be proactive about looking for the root cause of issues. This is often where the greatest inspiration for innovation stems from.

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He highlights that you don’t have to look way outside of your own organization for unicorns – you can cultivate and develop these traits within your own team members. 

Unicorns are definitely rare, but rest assured that they aren’t impossible to find. Encouraging these traits in your own team can help you create your own organization of magical human unicorns!

Macie LaCau is a passionate writer, herbal educator, and dog enthusiast. She spends most of her time overthinking and watering her tiny tomatoes.


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