Above and Beyond: 5 Reasons You Should Hire Overqualified Candidates

Why you should hire overqualified candidates

Above and Beyond: 5 Reasons You Should Hire Overqualified Candidates

With the unemployment rate at 4.3% in May 2017, the current economic situation is forcing many employees to apply for positions that don’t match their skills and salary level. Yet employers in practically every industry are having difficulty finding candidates to fill open positions. The number of open jobs as reported by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics hit a record high of 6 million on the last business day of April. There is a general imbalance in candidate skill sets and what businesses need to operate at maximum capacity. While this is most often a problem of a lack of skills, there are also those candidates that, at least on paper, seem overqualified for certain positions. Why would an overqualified candidate apply to a position that is beneath their experience and salary level? There are a number of possible reasons. Often it’s a question of non-monetary factors. According to a survey published on Access Perks, the top sources of workplace stress include heavy workload/looming deadlines (33%), unrealistic expectations of managers (22%), attaining work-life balance (22%), and coworker conflicts (15%). Other reasons could be a lack of stable future growth, or the desire for more rewarding work. The candidate’s motivation is probably the most important question you will need to answer before you can ascertain that this candidate is a good hire. Here are some reasons why you should consider an overqualified candidate, and some tips to make sure it’s the right choice for your organization.

Look at their experience as a pro, not a con

Overqualified candidates are often passed over because employers fear that they will be difficult to manage. There is also a concern that the candidate will quickly become disengaged in a position where the work and responsibilities are less challenging. Overall, there is a general feeling that unless the candidate has personal reasons for wanting to take on less work and responsibility, that they will leave as soon as a better opportunity presents itself. These are all viable concerns for any employer. However, these candidates can be a tremendous asset to an organization. Hiring someone who is overqualified by definition means they have more than adequate skills to do the job.  According to a study done by The Society for Human Resource Management, the cost of replacing an employee can be anywhere from 50%-60% of the employee’s salary, with an overall cost ranging from 90%-200%. A seasoned professional will bring a level of knowledge and maturity to the position that is likely to save in onboarding and training costs. Taking on an employee that outshines the others may encourage others around them to improve their performance and productivity.

Tip: A thorough screening and interview process will reveal what the candidate is really looking for in this venture. Do they just want a job as a placeholder until something better comes along? You’ll need to speak very openly with the candidate about their goals and needs to find out if they are really in it for the long haul. According to Statistic Brain, more than 50% of resumes contain falsified information. Always be sure to do thorough background checks including salary and position history to establish that the candidate truly possesses that level of experience.

 Inexperience can be just as risky

You’ve probably ready quite a few articles about hiring Millennials and the kind of engagement needed to retain them. According to the Governance Studies at Brookings report “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,” Millennials will comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. According to PR Newswire, nearly 1 in 10 Millennials would quit their jobs if they were not engaged with their company, or had an issue at work. According to a Gallup survey, only 29% of millennials are actively engaged. Turnover is an issue facing every organization in a job market that is so favorable to the candidate. The biggest cause for concern is those entry-level/recent graduates more so than other demographics. The average cost of a new hire is over $4,000, according to The Society for Human Resource Management. You want to make sure you choose the right person for the job to avoid lost revenue and excess downtime.

Tip: Regardless of whether you are hiring a Millennial, a Baby Boomer, or someone in the 65+ demographic, his or her experience in your industry, and in the position for which you are hiring is paramount to the success of your organization. Considering an overqualified candidate can have repercussions, but the value of adding a team member with a wealth of experience to your organization is undeniable. In a Forbes article, business coach Prakash Rao of VKS Associates, LLC advises that it’s a good idea to hire overqualified candidates “if your organization is hierarchical, recognizes and promotes talent, and has a strong and supporting environment. An overqualified candidate has room to grow and thus will be competent for a few promotions.”

They are motivated by more than money

The submission of an overqualified candidate to a lower level position can often be easily explained through their personal experiences. For example, a woman who has started a family may choose to step down from a higher level position so that she can have a less demanding schedule and more time at home. Another example may be retirees that choose to make a return to the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the participation of 65 to 74-year-olds in the labor force is predicted to hit 32 percent by 2022, up from 20 percent in 2002. While these candidates sometimes return to work for financial reasons, the real appeal lies elsewhere. According to AARP, many retirees return to work as a means to stay active, retain skills, and be social. Rather than return to a career they held for several decades, they may look for work that is engaging, but less challenging. A recent Glassdoor study revealed that company culture and values along with career opportunities were the biggest factors driving employee retention. Several other studies have also emerged around what employees care about at work. One conducted by  Boston Consulting Group revealed that among the top ten things that influence employee happiness, salary was actually ranked number 8.

Tip: You can establish an individual’s experience level from their resume. Because personal experiences and situations can’t be revealed in this way, you should consider taking a second look at those overqualified candidates. A thorough interview process can help you establish what the candidate’s motivations are, and an initial phone screening can provide insight into salary requirements. The most important thing is not to pass over these candidates before investigating what is driving their desire to take a lower level position. In a Forbes interview, career consultant Amy Phillip of Career Certain says “Hiring managers should dig deep to understand what’s driving a candidate to accept a role with less responsibility or compensation to mitigate risk.” Candidates who take on roles for short-term financial gain instead of long-term fit will leave when the right opportunity presents itself.”

You’re creating a talent pipeline

Hiring an employee that is overqualified can actually help you support your talent pipeline, which is a necessity in the current labor market. According to CareerBuilder’s Jobs Forecast, 38% of hiring managers are focusing on building their talent pipeline. You may not have a position available now that fits this candidate’s level of experience, but that could change very quickly. A position may open up in your organization that is a good fit for that person’s skills and background. By then, they will have received their onboarding and training. They will have a good understanding of your company culture and values, and the general daily function of the organization. By allowing this person to join your talent network now, you’re helping to prepare for a future job opening with an outstanding candidate.

Tip: Consider how this candidate will work with other team members. A manager or supervisor might become threatened by a candidate that is more experienced. This is an instance when personality testing could be very useful in the hiring process. According to a study conducted by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 29% of employers use one or more forms of psychological measurement or assessment. The ability of personalities, especially dominant ones to work together and experience productivity is a crucial factor when hiring. Overall, the most important lesson here is a simple one: don’t let the good ones get away if you can help it.

You’re getting more for less

When hiring managers receive an application from someone that is overqualified, one of the main things of which they are fearful is that the candidate will have salary expectations beyond what the organization can support. In other words, they’re too expensive. Because the current market has affected wages in many skilled professions, there are a large number of people who are unemployed, and willing to take a position below their salary level. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, due to significant numbers of underemployed workers – those who have settled for “survival” jobs at lower salaries than what their backgrounds could demand – HR professionals and hiring managers will be seeing a lot more overqualified applicants.

Tip: If you’ve managed to secure an employee for a salary lower than what their skills and background suggest, you may need to consider adding to the compensation you’re offering in other ways. If you are unable to meet their salary requirements, perks like additional vacation time, flexible work schedule or the opportunity to work from home will help motivate an employee to stay.

Overqualified applicants bring a great deal of positive attributes to your organization. Their experience, shorter learning curve, and potential for leadership are just some of those. It is understandable that employers would have concerns about hiring this type of candidate. As more of these higher experienced candidates present themselves, it will be beneficial for hiring managers to consider adding them to their talent pool because the benefits can far outweigh the risks. Kristina Griffin, SPHR, director of HR at Raffa & Associates P.C. said in a Society for Human Resources article that she thinks it’s “a huge mistake not to take a second look at overqualified candidates. Certainly there are valid reasons to reject some candidates, but it shouldn’t be a blanket response.” There are those people who prioritize intangible benefits such as better hours, a healthy career-life fit and a good workplace culture above higher salaries and titles. These people can be very good hires as long as you can determine that they are a good fit for your organization, and that they have the right motives for wanting to make the change.

Bradley Staffing Group is a full-service staffing firm based in Wayne, PA. We are committed to matching A-level talent with best-in-class businesses. Our knowledgeable and well-trained staff brings a combined 70+ years of staffing experience to our clients and candidates alike.  http://bradleystaffinggroup.com/employers/

 

 

 

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