overqualified candidate

Hire the Overqualified to Maximize Talent ROI

Ed Baldwin Candidate Pool, Ed Baldwin, Hiring Bias, Hiring Managers, HR, Pop Culture, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Talent Strategy

Virtually all companies want to hire the very best talent available.  Most have some version of this statement proudly displayed on their careers page. But we all know that there are constraints in terms of the price you can afford to pay for that talent. That’s the crux of achieving your company’s talent strategy, maximizing the talent you bring into the organization but doing so at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

Given the fact that all companies want the very best talent that is available for the money they are willing to pay, why do companies reject candidates for being OVERQUALIFIED?

Being OVERQUALIFIED has to be one of the lamest reasons I’ve ever heard for rejecting a candidate and taking them out of a recruitment process. Because I know that’s not the real reason they aren’t being put forward in the process.

The real reason is typically one or more of these:

  • You believe the candidate is only taking the job until they find a bigger/better job that more closely aligns with their skills and experience. In this instance, you believe the candidate is underselling themselves, and the second they figure that out they’ll be gone.
  • The hiring manager’s ideal candidate is someone younger, and the candidate is too old. And in case you didn’t know it, this reason is illegal.
  • The hiring manager has a “smartest person in the room” mentality and leadership style, is intimidated by the candidate’s background and experience, and is too immature to recognize and make the most of a team member that has capabilities to make them look like a rock star.
  • You don’t want a talent deal, or you don’t think that hiring a candidate with more skills and capabilities than the job requires is a deal at all. If it appears too good to be true, it probably is. This is your own recruitment insecurity.

So I’m calling BS.

If your company has a talent strategy where you are trying to get the best ROI for your talent dollar (quite frankly, why wouldn’t you) then you would hire the OVERQUALIFIED candidate because they are offering more skills and capabilities than the job requires at the same talent cost. That’s a higher ROI.

So why the hesitation and resistance?

This dilemma reminds me of a clip from the movie Hitch where Alex Hitchens (played by Will Smith) is selling matchmaking and is called onto the carpet by his client (Kevin James) for not believing what he’s selling.

(Subscribers, click through to view video.)

Here’s the line from the clip above that brings home my point: “You’re sellin’ this stuff, but you just don’t believe in your own product.”

If you’re a recruiter responsible for fulfilling your company’s talent strategy and are rejecting candidates for being OVERQUALIFIED then you too fall in this bucket. You don’t believe in what you’re selling.

If you want to change your tune and elevate your game here’s what to do:

First: Find the great managers and teams in your company that will recognize what an OVERQUALIFIED member of staff brings to the table, and stockpile their talent bench. Other leaders will see this and want to do the same.

Second: Challenge those hiring managers who play you the OVERQUALIFIED excuse, and offer your insight and advice on the advantages of being in the group above, and how they can become one of those havens for talented, OVERQUALIFIED staff. Then help them build their talent bench just as you have with the first group above.

Both groups will thank you for it and it will also benefit your company…big time. You will have upped your game and gone beyond recruitment to become a talent manager.

And if your hiring managers aren’t up to your challenge of hiring OVERQUALIFIED staff as a means of stockpiling the talent in their team?

Steal one of the last lines from the clip above and just like Kevin James’ character say:

“And this whole time I thought I was the coward.”