Hire the Overqualified to Get Creative, Dedicated Employees

Joe Weinlick
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Does your company shudder at the thought of hiring overqualified candidates? This may be the wrong way of thinking if you're a hiring manager, as overqualified job seekers just might turn into some of the most dedicated employees in your group.

A study from the Academy of Management Journal states that overqualified candidates have the ability to move a position in a creative direction that no one thought possible. Highly qualified workers often bring a fresh perspective and innovative ideas to groups, which can help make projects and teams of employees more efficient.

The study explained that some overqualified candidates turn into dedicated employees because many recently faced underemployment. This hardship makes a person more eager to work and active in their role within any organization. Rather than sit back and become bored at a job, these employees take the reins and quickly make strides.

Right Management

Overqualified candidates perform best when they report to high-performing managers. While highly qualified hires have the potential to bring new ideas to an organization, it's up to managers to give them challenging yet meaningful work to do and the opportunity to be creative. Overqualified hires must be allowed a degree of freedom, otherwise they might start to get bored. Don't hesitate to give overqualified candidates a bit of leg room, as most highly qualified candidates have a professional network of people they can consult if they have questions, and they understand the importance of asking for assistance when they need help.

Study's Premise

The study happened in China among teachers and factory workers. Among teachers at six Chinese schools, those who rated themselves as a "five" on a seven-point scale as to how overqualified they felt at their jobs were in the perfect position to craft their jobs and become productive employees. Anyone lower (less overqualified) or higher (more overqualified) on that scale seemed to be less engaged in their work.

The second portion of the study examined an electronic toy factory. Workers were given two toy assembly tasks. One task gave employees a diagram of a toy boat, and employees had 30 minutes to assemble it. Moderately overqualified technicians used around 36 parts to make the boat, while the modestly overqualified ones used as many as 300 parts to construct the toy. People who were the most overqualified used fewer parts to make these boats as compared to those who were modestly overqualified for their positions. Researchers surmised that employers must find the middle ground between barely overqualified workers and exceedingly overqualified staffers to find the optimal fit.

Overqualified candidates aren't necessarily a bad thing. Hiring managers simply have to figure out the degree to which they make the perfect employee. One highly qualified, dedicated person on a team can make a big difference when it comes to revenue and profits.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Denise W.
    Denise W.

    True, Nothing beats experience! Especially when you are working with clients, it's important that they have confidence in you and your organization. In my 25 years working in Technical Support my best asset is my dedication to the client. When the client hangs up the phone even, if the issue has not been resolved yet I want them to feel confident that they made the right choice with our company.

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