Are You Missing Out on Great Talent for This Common Reason?

Denise Martinez Corporate Recruiting, Staffing

Companies want the best workers possible, and place a number of requirements on the candidate who fits that profile. While it's necessary to narrow the focus down for effective recruitment, some of these criteria can end up hurting a firm more than helping.

A common myth in recruiting is that overqualified candidates won't last long or won't perform well: they'll get bored, they'll get a better offer, they won't settle for the salary the company is willing to pay, and so on. However, according to, there is no evidence that the overqualified perform poorly after they're hired. A study from professors Erdogan and Bauer at Portland State University found that the overqualified get higher performance ratings and perform better than their colleagues. They also have the same levels of job satisfaction as their peers, along with the same intent to remain, and the same rate of voluntary turnover.

Benefits of Hiring the Overqualified
People who are overqualified for the position they apply for are also conscious of these biases, and work very hard to prove these assumptions wrong. Additionally, overqualified candidates would not apply to positions that are below their experience level if they didn't truly need work. Perhaps they have spent a significant period of time laid off, or they have obligations that tie them to their current location, where no more suitable work is available. Whatever the reason, if recruiters see an application from someone who is overqualified come across their desks, they should not reject it out of hand. As points out, refusing to hire someone with additional experience or qualifications is a lot like rejecting a deal that gives the company "more for the same price."

Hiring the overqualified can also be part of a corporate commitment to promoting from within, as it works at Google. The tech giant hires with the current job in mind, but also the next one the candidate will hold. Overqualified candidates may have a clear path to advancement within a company that practices promotion from within.

Maintaining Relationships with the Overqualified Candidates You Don't Hire
If a company chooses not to hire an overqualified applicant, it is still important for the recruiting department to foster and maintain a relationship with him or her. It's possible that a vacancy will open that could benefit from precisely what prevented the candidate from being hired the first time around. Gently and politely informing a candidate he or she will not receive an offer for the position and adding him or her to the company's recruiting software is a smarter strategy than outright and final rejection.

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