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You would think with all the workers still out on the unemployment line, it would take companies less time to fill a position. But recruiters recently told The Wall Street Journal that it is taking hiring managers up to four times longer to fill positions now than it does when there are fewer candidates available.

The reason? Companies believe that with all the people looking for work, they should be able to find the “perfect candidate.” When they interview a great, but not perfect, candidate, hiring managers assume there are still better candidates out there and are asking recruiters to bring them more options. Last year, hiring managers invited five to six candidates for second interviews, which is double the amount called in for a second round in 2007, according to a survey of recruiters conducted by the Corporate Executive Board, which was cited in the article.

But while hiring managers are taking their time to find this elusive perfect candidate, there is work that is not getting done or current employees are struggling to handle the extra work. A better option? Hiring the great, but not necessarily perfect, candidate on a contract basis so they can “try” the candidate before they “buy.” This way, they can evaluate the worker’s skills in action even as they continue their search for someone better. If they do find someone else who appears to be perfect, they can simply end the contractor’s assignment. Or if they find that the “great” candidate actually is their perfect fit, they can extend a direct-hire offer. Either way, contracting is a great way to help companies continue to move foward even when their candidate searches are extended for weeks or even months.

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