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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Overqualified Candidates

When an "overqualified" candidate applies for an open role at your company, there are only four reasons for you not to consider this person for the available position.

1. You can't afford them.

If the person's last title was something senior like "Chief Marketing Officer" and they're applying for anything that would be considered a more junior-level role in your company, your first thought might very well be, "I can't afford this person!"

And maybe you can't.

But money isn't the only motivating factor for people, and it's rarely the most important.

  • What if the person is truly passionate about your industry (or better yet, your specific company) and more than willing to take a step (or two, or three) backwards in title and compensation so they can do something they love?

  • What if the person loves to learn, and the idea of using their established skills to join your company (perhaps in an industry in which they haven't previously worked) is especially appealing to them?

  • What if the candidate would be perfectly satisfied with the compensation package you can offer because the person's last title was "start-up inflated" and the base salary was low in exchange for (potentially lucrative) stock options that didn't pan out?

  • What if the candidate is financially secure (perhaps part of a dual-income household where the partner earns more than enough to pay the household bills), and is interested in the position for the growth opportunities it offers, not the paycheck?

You'll never know whether or not you can actually afford a candidate if you don't ask, and you can't ask if you discard their application based on your unfounded assumptions about how much money would be needed to secure someone who's "overqualified" for the role.

Instead, why not schedule a phone call with the candidate? Thank them for their obvious interest in the position, proactively express the compensation range targeted for this role, and ask if it meets their requirements... then give them an opportunity to answer your question. Arranging and having this call might take all of fifteen minutes, which is the only thing you have to lose if it turns out the talent is really outside of your reach. But think of everything you have to gain if your compensation assumptions were incorrect and you can afford to bring this "overqualified" candidate onboard... that's worth fifteen minutes, right?

2. You can't manage them.

Let's be honest: "overqualified" is often just a code word for "older&quo