“You are overqualified”… that phrase -quoting Freddy Mercury now- sends shivers down my spine.
Companies thrive to get the best candidate for the job and the best job for the candidate, as one of HR’s maxims say. If you go by this perspective, yes, it could be an acceptable thing to say to those applicants who have “too much experience or too many qualifications” when matched against job requirements. But, is it that straightforward?
I don’t think so.
Jose Luis Bichara, President at Transacademia, calls this a form of labor discrimination. He states that in some cases, the candidate may even feel guilt for knowing too much or having too much experience and may resort to removing experience or qualifications from his resume in order to be considered.
A company’s focus -or lack of it- on talent development
Passing on candidates for being overqualified for a job can function as an indicator of a company’s stance with regards to talent development. If an organization has a carpe diem HR philosophy, where all that matters is the here and now, it’s probable that they will miss the big picture of talent acquisition. Think about this, when you are told that you are overqualified, does it sound like the company is thinking long term about you and your future in it?
On the contrary, if an organization’s philosophy is to attract talent to exploit and develop their potential, it may be willing to “take the risk” of hiring overqualified candidates because of what those people have to offer in the long run. You may be overqualified for a job today but I’d rather secure you because you have potential to be developed into more prominent roles within the organization, they may say.
A matter of time
Given, hiring overqualified people is a double edged sword.
When an overqualified candidate is hired, they will most probably perform above and beyond. The threat is that a few months after, that person may become too comfortable in his/her role, get frustrated and become a problem employee or feel that there are no challenges and thus, lose motivation and leave.
This is easily solved if the company has a structure in place where a career plan can be laid out from the get go and employees know what to expect and what’s in store for them.
Insecure or unqualified managers may opt out of hiring an overqualified candidate because he is perceived as a threat to them. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome, unless the manager understands that having an extraordinary individual below them could help them climb up the ladder lightning fast by “using them” as slingshots.
Something completely unexpected
I’ve been trying to come up with some of the most usual causes of people being rejected for being overqualified. But -this world is full of surprises- our very own Ioana just sent me a message with an anecdote that is hard to pass by. She’s got the mic now:
What do you think that being overqualified means?
Update: this post has started a healthy discussion on Linkedin. You can join it by clicking here.
Image credit, GoodNCrazy