Should You Really Wait For The Perfect Employee?


After your star performer quit and left you high and dry you insisted on keeping that manager position open for three weeks.  Face it; your pride got the best of you. “How dare he walk out like that?

Besides, we didn’t need him anyway”. Boy, how wrong you were.

the perfect employee

No emails went out about why he left and there was no mention to the middle managers of what happened.  The employees are all asking questions.  But you didn’t care; you just wanted to erase him from the scene…

Now, after your self-imposed and ego-inspired funk subsided, it’s back to reality. You need to fill that spot.

“He got paid too much anyway, now’s the time to save a few thousand bucks. Let’s call that headhunter we used to use, and tell him to get me some people to interview by week’s end.  I don’t need the “perfect employee”; just get me some bodies here quick!”

Wait a minute.  Your star performed just quit and you don’t think you should look for a “perfect employee” to fill his spot?  That’s your ego talking again.

Who cares why he quit, that’s a conversation for another day. You must identify the best employee available to fill that role.  If not, how long can you afford to be without the person that was your best seller, the one that needed little motivation and the one that mentored the younger staff?  Not very long.

But now you’re more concerned about saving a few thousand dollars?  You’re kidding?

Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect employee.  But you shouldn’t settle for someone less capable than what you already had.  Do you think a less-than-perfect hire will keep your company on the same footing as before?

According to the National Business Research Institute, 37% of employers said a bad hire negatively affects employee morale. Another 18% said the bad hire negatively impacted client relationships. And 10% said the bad hire caused a decrease in sales.

Still not interested in hiring a perfect employee?

In a study from Harvard Business Review, As much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.  36% of 1,400 executives surveyed by the staffing firm Robert Half claimed that the leading factor of a failed hire, aside from performance problems, is a poor skills match.

Still want just a “warm body”?

Oh, but you’re quick to say “We just need to fill that spot” or “I know he’s not perfect but he’ll grow into the position”.  Is that really true?

Businesses that fail to invest in proper recruitment practices and are quick to hire just to fill a position have more problems than they realize.

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Less qualified employees, especially management, will undermine employee morale.  Customer service suffers next.  Social media will document the failed attempts to meet your customer’s needs. Then revenues fall.

Maybe it’s time to rethink your position on who you hire.

What’s more important: a vacant spot or a junior employee just waiting to fail?

You decide – and be willing to deal with the consequences!  Agree?


  1. Hi Steve,

    being a small business owner, I would say that you can never know if the employee you found is perfect. Obviously, you can see some features of him/her from the very beginning, but only the real work can show how perfect he/she is.

    I hired and fired quite a few people. Some of them seemed to be just perfect, but after 2-3 months I saw that they don’t fit my company’s culture.

    Based on my own experience, I would say that it is better to give a chance to the employee that you think might be perfect, but only after some time you can really make a decision.
    Krystsina recently posted…11 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses and FreelancersMy Profile

  2. Hi Steve,

    I don’t think one should be waiting for the perfect employee. A strategy or policy should be in place to fill in vacant positions to the most ‘suitable’ and not the ‘perfect’ employee.
    The so called ‘perfect’ employee grows on the job and its relative. The years of experience, closeness to the employer and empathy are all factors that helps to create him or her.
    If the most qualified is provided with same opportunity they would grow as well!

  3. Hey, Steve.

    “Who cares why he quit, that’s a conversation for another day.” That’s is almost a truism. Blame and retrospection have only one purpose: to map a better path for the future.

    Warm bodies suck. Well, in business they do. But you might not find the perfect employee, or even one as good as the one you lost.

    My strategy would be to define a floor and define ideal. Then search for ideal, but not accept anything below the floor you set. That floor might include “potential” A quick learner on his or her way up the skills ladder might be worth as much as experience. If you have a strong team with a lot of experience, you might prefer to “settle” for less than ideal in current skills in order to benefit from rapidly growing potential.

    As with most human relations issues, there is just not a simple answer. But it’s a great question to explore.
    David recently posted…Inspiring children’s book publishedMy Profile

  4. Hey Steve,

    I am of the opinion that an employee should be replaced according to the need of the position. There are positions that just needs be filled to avoid vacancy.

    The hiring decision of the most important positions is based on the ‘importance’ of the position.

    There is no perfect employee but there is a fitting employee. Time and training can groom one!

  5. Hi Steve,

    The replacement or hiring of an employee must be done bearing in mind the realities of the business.

    If there is an urgent need for replacement then it will make sense to find anyone to do the job ASAP!

    However, if it is a position that requires more vetting or a position that is more sensitive then finding the “perfect” replacement becomes important!

  6. Hey Steve,

    Waiting for the perfect employee is not an option when the position to be filled requires professionalism or expertise.

    More so, if in the long run the input would affect output and credibility of the firm then it becomes necessary to wait for the right person to do the job.

    But of course, since nature abhors vacancy, there should be a plan in place to make temporal replacement.

    • One thing I’ve seem over the years is the inability of businesses to properly plan for succession. A well run, forward-thinking business understands that certain positions must not be left open so they cross train and share responsibilities/knowledge throughout the team.

      When a key player leaves there are capable replacements, even if its just for a short while until a full time replacement is identified.

      But, can any position “really” wait for the perfect employee? As far as the customer is concerned, yes…they insist on the perfect employee to service their needs.
      Steve DiGioia recently posted…Scott McKain’s Podcast Discussing “I’m a Waiter, Not a Salesman”My Profile

  7. It is important that management readily have a rethink of what they have in place when it comes to dealing with the perfect employee.

    My take is that we should not wait for the perfect employee, rather, our system of recruitment should create one.

    This begins with management knowing how to vet the best employees!

  8. Hi Steve,

    I have to say I have never been in the position to hire someone so I am not talking from experience.

    It seems like from what you have laid out in your article great care must be taken in hiring the right person.

    Many have stated here that the actual position changes the answer to your question. If it isn’t as important of a position, you can do a quick hire and just have a warm body filling the role.

    For important positions, time and diligence should be given in finding the best applicant for the position. Maybe there should be a probationary period to prove he/she can provide the results or at least an ability to grow into the position with the right mentoring?

    Thanks for the interesting top Steve. Have a great day…


  9. Hi Steve
    Although I have never directy employed anyone, I have taken on outsource workers. Some of your points are applicable here too. I have found that not doing proper screening when taking on somebody means I often get someone who never properly follows instructions, takes up a lot of my time and sometimes even makes a mess of things.

    I quickly learnt that good investment of time and care in hiring the right person pays off enormously, and the right person becomes a highy valued member of the team.

  10. Steve,

    Thanks for the article. I agree with waiting to find a decent to good employee. Not just to hire somebody just to hire somebody cause you need to.

    I have a friend where their work is filled with employees that just don’t care or do a really lazy job at their tasks. That business really struggles sometimes in all aspects. That could all be avoided if they took the time to find decent to good employees.