This website uses cookies. More information Do not show this message
Experts in talent integration
Share this page

You should stop chasing unicorns, and here’s why

Written by Lien Ponnet on 27 February 2023 for Companies

You already know there’s a talent shortage, why should you read another article about the war for talent? Because at Exellys, we’re not talking about a war for talent anymore. We’re talking about a war for people. And we will tell you how to be victorious. To arms!

Before we dive in, let’s recap. Since the 1990s, the landscape for recruiting and retaining employees with the necessary skills for a company’s activities (“talent”) has been increasingly competitive.

How did we get into this pickle? First, there’s a demographical explanation: while there is an increasing demand for talent, we’re facing a decreasing supply. There are simply fewer workers in recent generations to replace the workforce that has reached the age of retirement (at least in Europe and the US).

Second, professional mobility has risen, especially among younger generations. Not only are younger workers more inclined to change jobs if they can find better career opportunities elsewhere, but there’s also an increase in labour mobility between EU countries.

Third, the priorities of young workers have changed. Of course pay is still very important, but so are other factors, such as employee well-being, hybrid working policies, opportunities for growth, purpose, office culture, DE&I, and so on.


At Exellys, we look for ‘the perfect fitbetween our clients and our consultants. Up until a few years ago, this meant a one-to-one match between what the client was looking for, and what the consultant could offer, taking into consideration a cultural fit as well. However, this ‘perfect fit’ no longer means the same thing today.

It’s simple: as top talent becomes increasingly scarce, it is almost impossible to retain the so-called ‘unicorns’ – the employees with a unique set of qualities that set them apart from everyone else. They are wanted and courted by everyone. So we suggest you stop chasing these unicorns. Instead, switch your focus to people with good basic skills and the right mindset. That is really all you need. Every gap in knowledge can be closed pretty easily through training, as long as there’s basic knowledge, motivation and intelligence. Recruiting horses and turning them into unicorns is exactly what we do at Exellys.

Bridging the gap

Someone’s potential and their skills are much more important than their diploma” says Stefan Dierckx, CEO at ProjectiveGroup. “That one-to-one match we used to strive for is no longer of this time. Maybe people lack certain technical skills for a job, but you can always teach those skills. People need to be allowed to grow organically in their careers. All that matters is that they are motivated, have a good set of basic skills, have the right mindset and that they show potential. Everything else can be taught. Thanks to our extensive training and coaching program, we can close that skills gap rather easily.”


We’ve passed the war for talent stage and crossed over into a war for people. This doesn’t mean ‘take what you can get’, but broaden your horizons. Fish from a bigger talent pool. Even if someone doesn’t tick all your requirement boxes at first, you might see them thrive in your organisation after only a few months, given the proper training and coaching. All that really matters is their potential, mindset and motivation.

P.S.: Don’t have the time to train new people? Not sure where to find these young potentials? For us, it’s what we do every day. So if you’d like some help, get in touch and let’s partner up!

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We bring tech talent into the daily operations of the organisation of our customers and grow them for the innovations of tomorrow.

From the 1.500 tech talents we speak to annually, we select the top 7%. We intensively train and coach them on the right skills and competences. Our (scientifically based) training programs (Start Smart, Grow Smart & Lead Smart) accelerate the growth of our talents, and therefore also the growth of our customers.

We “unburden” our clients when looking for and retaining tech talent. We are committed to getting the best out of talent, while our customers can continue to focus on their core business.

We do this for organisations who want to strengthen their team permanently, as well as those who are looking for a flexible, project-driven solution. Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help.