In the marketplace, there are a wide range of candidates for open positions. As an executive recruiter and coach, there are times when someone is "over qualified" for the role. Many times, these candidates are not actively included in the pool or seriously considered. This is a missed opportunity.
Potential candidates may appear to be over qualified based on items in the position specification. This can range from the amount of experience, education/credentials, having had a more senior role or title and/or having been more highly compensated in the past. For this article, we will consider the over qualified candidate as someone who has had a larger role/title.
Regardless of why someone would pursue a position, there are three key benefits of hiring someone who is over qualified:
Over qualified candidates usually have the technical capabilities to "do the job" immediately. If they have had these responsibilities in a prior role, they can usually come into the role and quickly add value. Their learning curve is short and they have many ideas on how to do the job efficiently and effectively.
These candidates add value beyond the role. These over qualified professionals tend to approach the job differently. They can think beyond the role and see other issues and possibilities. The breadth they bring enables them to provide a broader perspective to the role and its interactions with other stakeholders.
They provide built in bench strength to the organization. Since the over qualified employee has had a larger role, they have an ability to expand their responsibilities. The risk is lower that they will be unable to make the adjustment required.
There are no absolutes in the process of sourcing and placing talent. It does appear that the benefits of hiring someone over qualified are prematurely minimized by phantom risks.
In one role, I hired Bruce as a Director despite prior roles as a Vice President. Conventional wisdom would have suggested that he be dismissed as a candidate. Nonetheless, he was the best candidate of the pool and he joined my team.
Bruce had a great attitude and was quickly able to handle the responsibilities. More importantly, he added value well beyond his required duties and was also a great resource for me, his supervisor. Lastly, when I left as his supervisor, he was qualified and prepared to advance to the more senior role.
Every situation may not be ideal, hiring authorities should strongly consider "over qualified" candidates. They may prove to be huge, unexpected assets to your organization.
Dwain Celistan is a retained executive recruiter and former executive. He is the author of several books including "You're Hired Actions to Get and Keep the Job You Love". His contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-455-0172.
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