If you realize that your recruiting efforts attract job seekers with ‘too much’ experience, the reflex response by most employers would be to shelf the resume - even despite having trouble finding the perfect fit.
But what if you respond the way that runs counter to most hiring managers by taking a closer look instead of turning down their application immediately?
So what makes a candidate “overqualified”?
Hiring managers may be overlooking the perfect hire by eliminating this group of candidates from consideration. Sure there are risks to consider when assessing the compatibility of a candidate who is seemingly overqualified. But then again, don’t all potential hires come with some form of risk? Although the fear that an overqualified worker would leap for better opportunities is justifiable, he/ she would still bring great value to the company with the experience that comes with them. It all boils down to how you make it work.
The perks of an “overqualified” hire
Essentially, what you, the employer is looking for is an ideal candidate who has the necessary skills and experience, will be adequately challenged and engaged by the role and hit the ground running from the day they start. You want them to demonstrate initiative and be able to work independently. However, has it ever occurred to you that an overqualified worker, as their label implies, can contribute even more?
More qualified to Innovate
Because these workers possess education and skills greater than what the role calls for, they are in the capacity to contribute more. With real experience comes ideas and new perspectives they can contribute to organizational innovation. They can also double up as mentors and role models that other colleagues can look up to. However, the employee must feel motivated and have established trust with the company before they are likely to contribute ideas that value-add to your organization.
Quicker return to full productivity
Overqualified candidates can help boost productivity from the get-go. They do not require extensive training, supervision and could potentially generate a higher return on investment, bringing with them fresh ideas and proven experience. Overqualified workers may be easier to manage since they have experience in the industry, which translates to independence and personal accountability for their own time and work management.
If your organization strongly believes in looking to promote internal hires instead of parachuting managers or leaders into the organization, hiring someone who is willing to prove his/her mettle by working out how things work from the ground up may be a great idea. The overqualified hire could prove his/her worth to the organization with the experience and earn the respect from the peer group before taking on added responsibility. However, introducing an overqualified hire for the purpose of grooming future leaders - may or may not disrupt team dynamics for the better, so it all depends on the organization’s career progression plans.
Understanding their rationale for applying for your position
If the experience on the resume looks highly relevant, but just more than what you are asking for, consider understanding the applicant’s point of view. Arrange an interview with these candidates, have a few questions in your head about why they are applying for a job that has requirements that are way below their experience. These can include:
- Why is he/ she applying for a job that is well below their qualifications?
- Were they retrenched because their previous company was cutting costs by relocating?
- Could they have already been rejected thrice by different recruiters before they sat for your interview just because they were deemed too expensive to hire for a now less available, similarly senior position?
- Could it be that circumstances led them into early retirement even though they would love to continue contributing to society if given the right opportunity?
- Could they have a break in their employment history due to personal reasons be it family or health and are looking to balance their responsibilities by slowly integrating back into the workforce with a less demanding job for which they will be very thankful?
To hire or not?
It is important to remember and think about why overqualified candidates are applying for a lower-level job. It would be wise to grant potential candidates the opportunity to explain themselves. Find out more about the candidate and then make your decisions after. If you can get over the conventional misconceptions about hiring overqualified candidates, this pool of ‘too-good’ applicants could end up turning into a great opportunity. As they say, bigger risks yield bigger rewards.