Silver Lining of The Great Recession: Hiring Over-Qualified Candidates

March 10th, 2011   •   no comments   
Astute Employers Can Benefit from Treasure Trove of Potential Candidates
Do the rewards outweigh the risks?  The experts would suggest as much.

The Great Recession presents new opportunities for employers who have just begun to hire again.
The experts are telling us: before you decide to pass on a candidate you might think is overqualified, take a little time to get to know him/her; even though you might be inclined to dismiss the offer, the “extra” skills of the applicant could be effectively utilized to boost performance in your work group or business.  
Unless you undertake this small task (a phone call?), you’ll never know the reasons why he might be interested in the specific position: does he want to shift industries?…relocate?…create a better work/life balance?  Find out.
Here are a few ideas on how to go about the process of discerning whether you should pursue the overqualified: 

First, define the risks: 

  • What are the hazards of hiring someone with more experience than you think might be needed for the job?  
  • Might she upstage her manager?  
  • Quit early into the job because she’s not challenged or because she finds a better job?
  • Disparage co-workers for being stupid or inexperienced?

Second: define the upside: 

  • What are the possibilities, the potential benefits of taking on a worker with some bonus abilities?  
  • Might it propel your work group to a new level of attainment?  
  • Could she bring personal, organizational or technical skills that are either non-existent or in short supply that could help the group function more effectively?  
  • Does her character offer some features that might help others on the team…just by observing?

With these two pieces of work out of the way, you’re likely to be a better helmsman in steering the process.  

Ideas that can help both in the hiring and the  “onboarding” process: 

Expand Your Thinking About the Job
Stretch your thoughts about the job: in the past, you might have searched for the right candidate to fill the opening.  Now, you can look into the future: are there needs that we will have in the future that this candidate could address?

Be Careful How You Bring Him On
Unmet expectations are, often, a key reason for turnover; it can be amplified in situations where the employee is over-skilled.  Make sure to clearly spell out the job, in detail.  Preemptively outline the tasks, responsibilities which might be “below” the skills of your new thoroughbred.  
Assure that fellow employees are aware of your decision and are going to participate in making the new hire work.

Pay Her What She Is Worth
Even though it would be easy to “discount” pay, according to the experts, by as much as 25% compared to pre-recession levels, the strong advice is against that: pay her what she’s worth.  It will work better in the long run.
If you can’t afford her, then it would be more prudent to pass.  If you have to pay her less than market, make sure she knows what the possibilities for advancement and bonuses are and, then, she can make the decision to accept.  

Using appropriate strategies could help you add key people to your organization.  I, for one, would recommend “pushing the envelope” to get the best talent that’s possible.


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