Being overqualified is one of the most common and frustrating reasons given to jobseekers when they are unsuccessful in landing a job. You can’t look through a single HR or jobseeker group on LinkedIn without seeing a post/rant and many subsequent comments about this reason for rejection. The most compelling comments are from the jobseeker’s point-of-view, but there are always a few that try to justify this rationale from the other side of the interview desk.
The seed. I heard the overqualified excuse more than a few times during my job search from external recruiters passing on the bad news from the hiring companies. External recruiters usually attempted to give it to me straight by following up an unsuccessful role bid with their insight into the situation. Their thought was usually that the hiring manager I would be working for felt threatened by my experience or that the company’s opinion was that since I was taking a position which paid considerably less than I was accustomed to earning, I would promptly jump ship as soon as I found a better paying option. One loose lipped recruiter even confided in me that the hiring manager admitted I was “the most impressive candidate” they had interviewed for the role, but since a 20% placement fee would be my price tag, they were unwilling to take a chance on someone they felt would be still be searching for a position with more responsibility and better compensation. Looking back now, the objection to the added cost of the percentage based fee may well have been the seed that has now grown into For Direct Hire and our quest to eliminate percentage based placement fees (among other things like middleman subjectivity/bias, the post and pray mentality of job boards, endless CV/resume sifting and much more).
Different oar, same boat. My situation was somewhat unique compared to most who find themselves out of work as I quit my job when my wife’s company moved us from Chicago to London so she could become the director their UK location. We made the move in late 2008 and thus made the shortlist for the worst timing ever award given the economic landslide which seemed to occur the moment our plane touched down at Heathrow. Prior to our move my search started with several good conversations about well paid opportunities but quickly spiraled into job search desperation within a month of our arrival when those opportunities went away due to hiring freezes and rounds of redundancies. My search lost its uniqueness after a few months and I settled into the same despondent feeling as the millions of others out of work throughout the UK and rest of the world.
Dream team. I know this might be a little bit of a “in a perfect world” type of mentality, but doesn’t it make sense for companies to gather the best available talent for the lowest compensation rate the candidate is willing to take? It’s like choosing sides for a playground game with an almost unlimited pool of star athletes instead of just one or two capable players. A dream team if you will. Just think about how your business will change for the better once you have these aces in place working at a higher level than the employee you could previously afford to hire. Maybe, just maybe you will even be able to afford to reward them when the profits start rolling in from their exceptional work.
Create a culture. There are never any guarantees that a new hire will stick around, but believe me most current unemployed jobseekers will feel a overwhelming sense of loyalty to a hiring company and be less likely to even think about continuing their job search than they would have been previously. It’s always been my belief that it’s up to the company to create an atmosphere which keeps employees happy and makes them want to stay long term. A highly compensated employee is just as likely to leave as a lower one if the culture of the company isn’t to their liking. Money isn’t always the deciding factor.
Add it up. As I alluded to earlier, the fact that companies are unwilling to “take a chance” on someone they feel is overqualified simply because the high cost of recruitment associated was one of the reasons we sought to develop a recruitment alternative which makes it more affordable for companies to hire the right candidate. Our motto became “move from the candidate you can afford to the candidate you desire”.
It’s really simple to figure it out: the less a company has to spend on recruitment, the better the salary they can offer.