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News and insights for job seekers and hiring managers.

Perfect Candidates Don’t Grow on Trees

There’s a powerful old adage: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. While this can be applied to nearly every situation in life, it’s especially true when it comes to finding new employees.

As a manager, you have a good idea of exactly the type of worker you want: their background, skills, abilities, training, etc. But finding someone who checks every single box 100% might be nearly impossible.

Instead of feeling frustrated by this, see it as an opportunity! Here’s what to look for and how to make someone the best person for you.

Look at their skills.

Maybe the candidate in question doesn’t meet all the skill requirements you have for this position. But do they have transferable skills that will help them start on strong footing to join your team? Good communication skills, the ability to work well with a team and on individual projects, strong organization skills, all of those mean strong potential for a candidate who will be coachable and teachable to make up for other perceived shortcomings if given the time and support they need to excel.

See who you already have and find the commonalities.

Depending on the size of your team, you might have a person or two already in the position you’re looking to fill. What do those people have in common? Do they have similar personalities? Do they have similar resumes? Or are they wildly different but share a passion and understanding for what they do? A good working environment in which people are supported can make for a powerful teaching situation in which someone can come in and thrive because they’re working with people who are happy in their jobs and willing to share their knowledge. Let the team you have influence who you’re looking for.

Determine the candidate’s willingness to learn.

Someone who meets most of your needs but is willing to learn, and has shown the ability to pick up skills while working is someone worth talking to. The way you’d glean this information before an interview is by looking at the job descriptions listed on their resume: Do they have a variety of abilities listed? Did they work a variety of jobs before applying to work at your company? Have they changed paths a few times while building an impressive resume? The ability to adapt and learn new skills means this is a candidate that can be taught and trained to be the employee you need them to be. They’re not a blank slate but they have a solid foundation that can be shaped into a model employee.

Evaluate the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

If you’ve had some interviews but no one stood out, think about each person individually. What came across as a strong positive attribute? Did they have a good attitude, a positive presence and generally make a good impression? Did they come across as nervous and unsure of themselves, like maybe they weren’t being truthful? Did you generally like one candidate more than another? Did someone complain about their current job and use that as the reason they’re looking to move? Someone who laments problems that they were unable to solve and can’t see them as opportunities to learn and try new things might hold back a creative thinking team; someone who embraces challenges and might falter at first but is excited to try again is someone who will add energy and enthusiasm to your team.

Go with your gut.

Sometimes you just get a feeling about a person. You get a sense that, despite their shortcomings on paper, they would be a great asset to your team. There are no red flags during their interview or on their resume; they have good answers and reasoning behind questions you give them; they present well and you feel like they could do the job, even if they don’t have all the training you’d like or all the experience you need. You’re a manager for a reason: You’ve been working for a number of years and have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t. Weigh all these factors and decide whether to give this person an opportunity to grow with your company.


Need to expand your team? Sterling Personnel can help!

A perfect candidate doesn’t exist. But you can find someone who will do the job, with the right training and support, and can do it well. Give someone a chance and reap the rewards!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for additional candidates, or need someone to fill in temporarily while you search for long-term hires, call Sterling Personnel. We have excellent candidates with a variety of backgrounds that might provide a solid option for your team. Contact Sterling Personnel today and let’s get to work.