Friday, 3 August 2012

Overqualified for the role

What is it about recruiting companies that when looking for candidates they somehow drop into the Dilbert parallel universe? I am getting really fed up with my quote of the month from responding companies, "We have chosen not to take your application further as you are overqualified for the role".

What does this mean?

If you consider any other facet of life, could you contemplate a similar comment?

- On boarding a plane
 "Sorry dear, let's not catch this flight. The pilot is far too qualified"

- On surgery.
"I am concerned that the surgeon is overqualified to perform my bypass. Do you have an inexperienced intern who could operate on me?"

- On Dining out.
"Please don't let the chef cook our puffer fish. I would much rather that the unqualified trainee have a go"

This is obviously nonsensical. In any given situation, having someone who is better at doing the role than not is invariably a benefit, so why is it that (particularly consumer goods) companies feel this urge to reject talent? It also ignore any aspects of motivation, passion, desire or attitude.

I have come to the conclusion (through painful personal experience) that there can only be one of five translations of "You are overqualified" from Dilbertese back into English...

1. We actually have found a suitable candidate internally, which means that we will not have to pay the recruitment agency any commission. We are embarrassed at all of the time and effort that we have wasted, do not want to appear stupid and unprofessional to our recruiter, to you or to our senior management, so are going to reject you by saying that you are overqualified.

2. We are operating a standard check box profile, and your expertise is greater than that required. We are therefore in a quandary as to what to check, and have taken the easy option of ticking the "N/A" box. Unfortunately, this has created a low score for you, and despite the fact that I am a human being and not a computer, I am going to leave my brain switched off, and reject you by saying that you are overqualified.

3. As recruiting manager, your capability terrifies me, and I can see you replacing me and doing my job better than I can within a very short space of time. Since I am an insecure individual, totally focussed upon my own issues and needs, and not at all interested in the benefit to the wider business to bring in great talent, I am going to ensure that my boss never sees you, and reject you by saying that you are overqualified.

4. We accept that you have great skills, but are more concerned about how long people stay in role, rather than how well they perform. As such, we are concerned that you might actually succeed at this job too quickly (which would make everybody else look bad and lazy) and would give us a problem in rewarding / promoting you too quickly, in case it set a precedent (despite your performance). Given that this is all just unnecessary complications, despite the obvious benefit that it would bring to the business), we are going to chose a second-rate candidate over you, and reject you by saying that you are overqualified.

5. There is actually something wrong between your skill set / experience / talent and the role that we are recruiting for, but since we are not going to recruit you, and you mean nothing to us, we cannot be bothered with taking the time to invest in giving you useful developmental feedback (which may help you secure a job somewhere else, be of greater benefit to society, and avoid being a burden to the state), we are just going to fudge it and reject you by saying that you are overqualified.

“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.”  Lou Holtz

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