I received a call from a recruiter-colleague yesterday, bemoaning a hiring manager who was waiting for the “perfect” candidate. “I've sent her 5 great candidates, but none of them are perfect. Doesn't she have to fill this position?”
Well, maybe not right away. And, maybe it's not just technical skills that make a candidate a perfect or imperfect fit. (You and I both know it's not!)
And, at some point, it's time to hire a candidate who is good enough. Otherwise, you have to change which projects in the project portfolio you can staff, or how the people work on projects. (See Hiring The Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science Of Hiring Technical People for more details)
But how long can you wait? How long should you wait? In this economy, chances are good that you can find good candidates relatively quickly. If you are a hiring manager who's had an open position for several months and you haven't found the right person, make sure you review your job analysis. Maybe what you thought you needed has evolved. Iterate on your job description–maybe it's not working for you, helping you filter in the right people and filter out the ones who aren't quite right.
The problem is that waiting does cost you capacity. Only you can know how long you can wait for the perfect candidate. And remember, the “perfect” candidate does not exist. You can hire people who are very close.