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Overqualified and Underrated?

Our board member, David Creelman, provided today’s guest blog post:

This article in Management Issues cites research showing overqualified workers stay as long or longer and perform better than candidates who are supposedly a better fit.

Organizations hiring hourly workers should check if their branding discourages “overqualified” workers from applying or if the selection processes screen them out. If a highly capable individual wants to work in a relatively low-paying job, for whatever reason, you are hurting your own organization if you rule them out.

I once knew a successful corporate manager who, fed up with the stress, threw it all in and went to work as a clerk in a grocery store. He was overqualified but psychologically very happy with the move (his wife had other opinions, but that’s a different part of the story).

There may be a pool of really excellent hourly workers in the marketplace that organizations have been ignoring for the ironic reason that they thought these people were too good.

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  1. Hmmmm. I once took a job I was overqualified for and found it hideously boring. I dreaded each day. I put in a year and when the company was looking for volunteers for layoffs (yes, volunteers!) I raised my hand gleefully. Thankfully I found another job four months later – one that I was perfectly suited for. I stayed with that company for four years and worked my way up to a senior-level position.

    I have also found in my jobs that whenever we hired someone overqualified for a position, that person was gone within six months.

    I think assessments could help screen out those who may say they want the job they are overqualified for, but ultimately would be unhappy in that job. If their personality is such that they like to be challenged, like to be in charge, etc. my guess is that those people would not be happy in a job they are overqualified for.

    January 6, 2011

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