“We’re looking for a lighter version of you.” In a business recruiting situation, they probably don’t mean that you’re overweight. Odds are they’re telling you that they think you’re “overqualified.” And overqualified is usually code speak for the following:
1. You are too old.
2. You are too expensive.
3. The hiring manager would be uncomfortable with your credentials. Perhaps even intimidated.
4. They don’t have the forward thinking vision to consider expanding the position, or to anticipate their future talent needs.
5. All of the above.
Overqualified candidates are rarely invited to interview with the hiring manager. Their resume or social profile is screened and the assumption made that the person would be bored and not motivated, so they would underperform or leave. As a result, the standard template rejection email is sent letting them know they should feel free to apply for other jobs you have posted. Of course you’ll feel they’re overqualified for those jobs too inviting the process to start over. This is completely ludicrous when you think about it. No doubt HR has metrics, case studies or white papers that explain why it’s always done that way. And yet, the overqualified candidate expressed interest. They initiated first contact with your company. If nothing else, don’t you wonder why? For example:
· They want to shift industries.
· Move to a new location.
· Travel less or more.
· Achieve greater work/life balance.
· They just want to make a change.
There could be several other reasons, but you’ll never know because your organization doesn’t have the time or see the need to have a conversation. And yet, your sales and marketing organizations may very well be spending large portions of their time and promotion budgets trying to meet those same personas. Take note; overqualified is also code speak for:
1. Well known and connected.
2. Influential decision maker.
5. All of the above.
Why you should be networking with the Overqualified
Are there unique factors you should consider in this situation? Indeed and here are just a couple to start:
· Before you reject the candidate find out if there is room to expand the job role in order to take advantage of his/her background. Also, think carefully about future needs. This situation may present an opportunity to bring in areas of expertise that are not currently represented at your company but will eventually be needed. Take time to find out what is really motivating them to make a change in order to validate additional consideration.
· If hiring is definitely not an option make sure you examine and evaluate their social capital carefully. The last thing you want to do is to set fire to a bridge that your sales and/or marketing team has been trying to build. Consider creating a networking process to introduce the candidate to key employees within your organization. That action will help your employees grow their social capital, and at the same time soften the rejection and help keep doors open with the candidate should your needs change.
Are you still thinking about sending that overqualified candidate your standard rejection letter?