IN THE marketplace, there is a wide range of candidates for open positions. As an executive recruiter and coach, there are times when I find someone who is “overqualified” for the role.

Many times, these candidates are not actively included in the pool or seriously considered. This is a missed opportunity. Potential candidates may appear to be overqualified based on the specified criteria of the position.

This can range from the amount of experience, education or credentials, having had a more senior role or title, having been more highly compensated in the past, or all.

For this article, I will consider the overqualified candidate as someone who has had a larger role or title.

Here are key benefits of hiring someone who is overqualified:


Overqualified candidates:

* usually have the technical capabilities to “do the job” immediately. If they have had these responsibilities in a prior role, they can usually come into the role and quickly add value. Their learning curve is short and they have many ideas on how to do the job efficiently and effectively.

* add value beyond the role. These overqualified professionals tend to approach the job differently. They can think beyond the role and see other issues and possibilities. The breadth they bring enables them to provide a broader perspective to the role and its interactions with other stakeholders.

* provide built-in bench strength to the organisation. Since an overqualified employee has had a larger role before, he would have the ability to expand his responsibilities.

There are no absolutes in the process of sourcing and placing talent. It does appear that the benefits of hiring someone who is overqualified are prematurely minimised by phantom risks.

For instance, I hired Bruce as a director despite prior roles as a vice-president. Conventional wisdom would have suggested that he be dismissed as a candidate.

Nonetheless, he was the best candidate of the pool and he joined my team. Bruce had a great attitude and was able to handle the responsibilities.

More importantly, he added value well beyond his required duties and was also a great resource for me, his supervisor. Lastly, when I left as his supervisor, he was qualified and prepared to advance to the more senior role.

Every situation may not be ideal, but hiring authorities should strongly consider “overqualified” candidates. They may prove to be huge and unexpected assets to your organisation.