Strengthen your candidate pool and consider the “overqualified”

There is a myth that still lurks in some quarters that an overqualified person is ‘bad hire’ — someone who is likely to get bored quickly and move on to pastures new. The reality, however, is that there is no definitive data to prove this to be the case. Far from being a mistake, hiring individuals who have more than the required experience or qualifications can actually be extremely beneficial to a business.

A study in the US, found that overqualified people who are hired for a role generally get higher performance-related appraisal ratings and frequently do their jobs better than those with the expected level of qualifications or experience. The research also discovered that they do not suffer from lowered levels of job satisfaction or feel inclined to leave their jobs as long as they feel empowered as an employee within their current role.

Motivation and Pride

There is evidence that overqualified employees may have a higher desire to work than averagely qualified counterparts, especially if they are changing career paths or recovering from redundancy, for example. They are likely to want to prove their worth rather than resenting having to take on a lower-level role. Their previous professional advancement or academic success could well be an indicator of a good work ethic and personal motivation, which are qualities that can be beneficial to any business and any role.

There is also the logic of employing someone with more skills than were initially called for at the same cost as someone less qualified. Even if they were to leave earlier than hoped, it is likely that they could add immense value in the time that they were employed. There is an argument that it would be better to benefit from the skills and learn from the working practices of an exceptional talent for six months rather than simply have five years of mediocre endeavour.

Now and Next

Hiring overqualified individuals also allows companies to follow in Google’s footsteps by hiring people for a current and a future job. Overqualified people are likely to reach optimum performance levels faster and will be ready for the next challenge much quicker than their ‘average’ colleagues. Training time and costs are frequently lower, and other less qualified or experienced staff members are likely to learn from their skills and experience.

Extra qualifications may mean that employees find it easier to adapt to changing roles and demands within a growing company, and they can even be easier to manage as a result of their previous experience. Someone who has previously held a supervisory or managerial position, for example, is much more likely to understand the challenges faced by superiors and may well work harder to resolve problems and minimise difficulties.

Overqualified employees can also open doors to opportunities that had not even been considered before they took on their role, allowing progress to be made without the need for costly and time-consuming training or additional recruitment. In general, they can offer a greater level of adaptability than average candidates, both in their current and future roles.