Being told you are overqualified for a job in a rough job market is one of the most disheartening things a job seekers can hear. In 2010 when the job market was at one of the lowest points ever, those graduating college were frustrated and discouraged about the lack of jobs they were qualified for. Those with bachelors degrees were applying for jobs as administrative assistants, restaurant servers, and anything else that would help pay the rent. The only problem with this tactic was that hiring managers were constantly saying, ”We’re sorry, but you’re overqualified for the position.”
These hiring managers were protecting their investment, since they knew that if hired, the job seekers would be there only for as long as it took to find a job in their actual field of study. The turnover rate for these graduates was high, and the cost of finding new employees was destroying their recruitment budgets and taking time away from other, more productive tasks. That’s why hiring managers rarely make the decision to hire someone who is overqualified. So how does one actually determine if a candidate is overqualified or underqualified?
Depending on how technical the job position is, finding someone whose skill set and experience fits the position exactly can be tough. Many jobs clearly require a specific degree or training certification. But others fall into a gray area where experience or a lack thereof can make or break a candidate’s suitability. The more specific a recruiter can be about the tasks and responsibilities of a job, the easier it is to determine the appropriateness of each candidate.
The list of disadvantages of hiring someone who is overqualified is quite long. Major issues include boredom, a lack of motivation, dissatisfaction with compensation, mood issues, high turnover, difficulties with leadership, etc. Hiring managers take overqualified candidates seriously only if they are convinced that the individual is really motivated to work for the company. When an employee is disengaged from their work, it not only creates unnecessary stress in the workplace, but productivity is also hugely affected across the board.
When making an important hiring decision, the question a hiring manager needs to ask is whether it’s better to hire someone who is highly skilled but might be overqualified or to hire someone who might not have the necessary skill level but may be able to get there through training. This question can be looked at in multiple ways.
For the overqualified individual, the worry is that there won’t be enough work to keep them engaged, and in a few weeks you’ll be back to square one, trying to fill the position again. But on the other hand, you know you’ll be able to count on this candidate to perform on day one of the job.
For the underqualified candidate, the concern is that you might not have the time or resources for training. This situation needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis, but if you’re able to train an underqualified candidate, he or she is likely to want to stay with the company longer and could be a lot more dedicated. The major disadvantage in this situation is the learning curve which could cripple your business, depending on how critical the position is within your company.
Overqualified or underqualified candidates both have their pros and cons. In each situation, the hiring manager needs to take a look at the resources available and make a decision based on the risks involved in hiring one or the other. Of course, you can always try to keep looking for that perfectly-qualified candidate, but this can also have repercussions if a position goes unfilled for too long.