Why you shouldn’t overlook the overqualified

As an employer, it’s easy to dismiss overqualified candidates. After all, why would a qualified accountant want an entry level job as a bookkeeper; or why would a former company director want to manage an artisan café? But by dismissing the overqualified, you could be doing them and your business a major disservice – here’s why you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss those overqualified candidates.

Your assumptions aren’t always right There are all sorts of reasons why someone might consider a role that belies their qualification. Making assumptions such as they’ll leave the job as soon as something better comes along or that they’ll be bored and under-productive are just that – assumptions (and they’re not always right).

It’s also important to consider the current context brought about by Covid-19. While there will of course be people looking for temporary work, some are using this unprecedented situation as a time to review their life and career choices. In fact, it could be argued that one positive side effect of the pandemic, is that it’s given many people a time for reflection and an opportunity to seek a genuine work-life balance. In practise, this could well mean taking a job they’re too qualified for.

Your pool of candidates increases One issue you might have faced as an employer, is lack of candidates in the first place. Reviewing candidates with an open mind means you automatically gain more potential interviewees.

Plus, if you think someone’s overqualified – aren’t you just a little curious to find out why they’ve applied? If you find yourself in a situation like this, it can be well worth digging a little deeper rather than relying on pre-conceived ideas that may or may not be correct.

Your business could benefit from their experiences Most of us are creatures of habit. But hiring the same type of person over and over again means that not a lot will change. For example, when you and your senior managers impart knowledge to junior staff, that knowledge stays the same. In turn that can breed a narrow mindset – if something doesn’t need fixing, why fix it?

But just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Having someone overqualified can give you new insights and a fresh perspective which could lead to improvements. You could even find that your overqualified employee brings a renewed energy to an existing team, driving greater organisational unity and boosting motivation.

Choosing the right candidate If someone is overqualified, there’s a good chance they’re smart enough to know that they’re applying for a job they’re overqualified for. In other words – they don’t need you to second guess their actions and until you meet that person, you have no real way of knowing why they’ve applied for the role they have.

Ultimately, as an employer, it’s in your best interest to employ the right individual for the job, regardless of whether you think they’re overqualified. The only way to do that, is to meet the person and sound out their motivations directly.

The reality is, that while the economic climate is already tough, it’s likely to get tougher and overlooking the best candidates isn’t something many businesses can afford to do.

At the end of the day, people are far more than the sum of their CVs and qualifications. Personality fit often plays a far more important role in whether someone’s right for the job. So, before you dismiss an overqualified candidate, consider the wealth of knowledge, experience and vitality they could bring to your business instead, and take a punt on what could be the best decision you ever made.

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