Think Twice Before Hiring an Overqualified Candidate

Is the term “overqualified” code for too old, or too
expensive? Should an employer be wary of hiring overqualified people? The answer to both is sometimes.

Overqualified truly means a person who possesses skills way beyond what is required to do the job, AND the job being considered represents a step down for the person.

There are a few valid reasons why an overqualified person could safely be hired and could do a good job. A lifestyle change could be valid – kids at home (or elderly relative) who need attention; spouse moved for a new job with much higher pay; person is recovering from injury or other trauma. Cash infusion
could be another valid reason: a recent cash-out at prior company (stock option
redemption or exit package) or even an inheritance, could cause a person to
think “I could afford to throttle back a notch for a while.”

If a company simply desires a younger worker, and in comparing skills, rules out a baby boomer in favor of a Gen-Y’er when both are equally qualified and would cost the same, that is simple age discrimination, and I think it is wrong. I’ve seen baby boomers do an outstanding job, leveraging their stronger experience, and yet not demand or expect as much as some of today’s younger workers.

When cost is a factor, a company is justified in hiring the least expensive person they feel can do the job, and that does not represent age discrimination, in my opinion.

The one real issue with overqualified candidates is whether they will stay. When a person steps down a level, and takes less pay, there is a real risk they will be vulnerable to recruiters, or will even seek another opportunity, seeing your position as only a stop-gap, or a way station on the path to something better. We ask candidates directly, “Why wouldn’t you make a move next year if a higher paying more responsible position became available?” If a candidate doesn’t have
a really solid answer to this question – they are overqualified, and then I wouldn’t recommend the hire.

For more hiring tips visit my blog

Views: 160

Comment by Recruiting Animal on April 29, 2010 at 11:34am
Comment by Justin Hocker on April 29, 2010 at 6:53pm
I'm both. 53 and 25 plus years experience. Lot of different HR experience, but have not been able to secure employment for 7 months. Last two jobs I was let go, more philosophical differences. Seems my employers want some HR guy to tell them want they WANT to hear, instead of what the NEED to hear. I was the messenger, and got shot. Guess next job I'll just keep my mouth shut.


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