Should You Be Afraid Of Overqualified Candidates?

March 29th, 2012

Employers and employees alike point to the economic downturn and consequent slow recovery as the reasons for a flood of overqualified candidates in the open job market. The truth is that overqualified candidates have always been available for hire, waiting for the right opportunity. They seek positions that are “beneath them” for reasons that smart employers would be well-served to discover.

Emotions of fear or reluctance from an employer about bringing an overqualified candidate onto a team should not knock that candidate out of the running for a job. Consider the reasons why someone would apply for a job that, on paper, is one that he would have been better suited for ten years ago. Does he need a shorter commute? More flexible hours? Did his current employer pile on unrelated job responsibilities, and he’s looking to get back to his roots in a specific field?

The primary reason that fear comes into the equation stems from the thought that an overqualified candidate will leap to a new job at the first opportunity. That is an inherent risk of any new hire. Companies can take advantage of this by recognizing, instead, the inherent value of an overqualified hire, and taking steps to make their experience challenging and rewarding.

As a benefit to a company, the time it takes for these employees to get acclimated is greatly reduced, thus eliminating some of the expense of training and maximizing the amount of time they have to start being productive. Also, overqualified candidates bring a wisdom that only comes from experience—that is, having made some mistakes, and having learned from them. They are more likely to identify ways to be more efficient, to spot new opportunities for business development and to solve problems as they crop up.

For all the talk of a work/life balance that we see in popular media, when someone takes steps to embrace that healthier balance, experience, skills and achievements can work against him or her. Smart employers will evaluate candidates whose experience exceeds a job’s requirements in the same way that they look at job seekers who meet the minimum standards. One type of hire requires a steep climb up a learning curve, while the other brings knowledge that will make other employees step up their game.

Rather than writing a candidate off after a cursory resume review, forward-thinking hiring managers will consider one’s “overqualifications” as one element of the whole mix, not the deciding factor. The competitive spirit that has consumed today’s job market will not fade away. As an employer, turn these candidates into your competitive advantage.

Olympic Staffing can help you to tailor your job postings and find quality new hires. Find out how by contacting our offices in Southern California today.

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