A candid headhunter

One paragraph says it all.

“The one real issue with overqualified candidates is whether they will stay. When a person steps down a level, and takes less pay, there is a real risk they will be vulnerable to recruiters, or will even seek another opportunity, seeing your position as only a stop-gap, or a way station on the path to something better. We ask candidates directly, “Why wouldn’t you make a move next year if a higher paying more responsible position became available?” If a candidate doesn’t have a really solid answer to this question – they are overqualified, and then I wouldn’t recommend the hire.”

Two issues with the above statement. First and completely obvious, is this really a market that favorable to job seekers that the threat of recruiters “stealing” them away is a valid concern? If its an industry that is requires specific skills or talent, then being overqualified is not an issue. No one is overqualified. The second is blatantly unfair. Let’s ask the question from the other side of the desk:

“Why wouldn’t the company make a move and eliminate my job if they could replace me next year with a lower paid, but still viable employee with a different, but similar, job title?” They would, they will, and they do. All the time. The recruiter/hiring manager fear of an “overqualified” candidate jumping to the next, higher paying job is a total canard. Few people are switching companies these days. Most are thrilled to have a job (not necessarily the work or the company, just the employment) and few people have the the ability to take on the risk. The honest response is “overqualified” applicants come with too much potential baggage. Their own ideas, experience or a work style that may clash with the hiring manager. Fresh blood is cheaper and easier to mold. They’re also far less loyal, since they have no connection with the pension culture of our parents and grandparents, and the Gen Y work ethic can also be a challenge. Not that it matters in the end. The assumptions about workers that spend years building a career are usually too great to overcome. And that is truly a shame.


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