Thursday, November 8, 2012

Overqualified, Oh Really?

With a sluggish economy, shrinking manufacturing, reduced staffing, not to mention half of all college grads can’t find employment, everyone’s competing over fewer jobs. Since the ‘90s middle management ranks have been decimated, manufacturing jobs are vanishing so it doesn’t take a mathematician to recognize there are more job applicants out there who are judged to be overqualified. Not only in the U.S., it is occurring in many other nations with depressed economies brimming with experienced workers, so why aren’t they given more serious consideration? Isn’t there an advantage and added-value to having workers who require less training and already possess valuable skills? Maybe, a weak hiring manager feels threatened by a more qualified job candidate, worried they’ll angle to replace their boss before long. Another reason could be an often correct assumption that an overqualified person will quickly grow dissatisfied and bored, or perhaps a company just plain doesn’t need that level of skill in a particular position. But I find these are not the most common causes for which good and productive people are discarded from serious consideration.

Typically, the moment an HR or company representative sees they cannot easily connect all the dots or it differs from their routine processes, they're thrown off their routine and become incapable of thinking outside their neatly arranged thought processes and ritual. If a job description requires 3 – 5 years experience, and the applicant has the right skills but 7 years of experience they are most often disregarded out of hand. In fact, I have noted under-qualified applicants are treated with more consideration than are those with experience exceeding what is called for in a job posting. Instead of thinking of ways they can capitalize with someone with an abundance of skills and experience, sadly the narrow administrative mind trumps innovative business considerations and they can’t get their head around anything outside the focus of their tunnel vision. To them I say, “Hello! The entire paradigm has changed the last few years”. There are some advantages in considering those who are easily dismissed elsewhere. Companies should find ways for capitalizing on the scores of exceptionally talented and experienced people who are available and interested in working for them. Even during this slow business cycle, believe it or not, I witness many companies that complain they can’t find qualified applicants. Oh really? They can’t find them or is it possible they’re overlooking those who can step in and do the job, today? I suggest these potential employees are hiding in plain sight and companies should open their eyes to the resources right in front of them, who are ready, willing, able and qualified.

Indeed, when most people apply for a job for which they are more qualified than the job requires, it’s likely they’ve already considered the reasons a hiring manager might object to their inquiry – so if they are still interested, why not consider them? It doesn’t take rocket science to conduct a little extra due diligence to expose applicants with alternate agendas. There are always those here and there at all experience levels trying to misrepresent themselves, that’s nothing new. There is no reason someone who has an additional few years of experience (read: expertise) should not be given equal consideration, and then compare them fairly with the other applicants. Shouldn’t companies celebrate anytime they can attract someone who might possess more know-how and experience; isn’t this a plus, especially if they are willing to accept the same compensation range as advertised?

If you are a seasoned job applicant who is experiencing then your task is clear. When you are face-to-face during the interview, be able to overcome being stereotyped or diminished by demonstrating why your abilities and experience translate into a benefit for the company. Is equal opportunity only about race, gender or lifestyle choice or should it also apply to those with a plethora of applicable experience? If your interest is sincere and you're not just looking for a place to gain a paycheck, you must be able to demonstrate why you should be considered in comparison with others. Have you kept your skills up-to-date, can you bring a benefit to the environment? Showcase past accomplishments in a manner the interviewer will recognize the value to their organization, so they can in-turn make a case to their boss for why you should more ahead in the process. Without backing it up with accomplishments, facts and figures, your years of experience alone aren’t enough to earn you extra credit so boasting, “…the way we did things at XYZ company…” isn’t enough. How can your past experience impact a new environment? Relating old war stories is not in what they are interested, can you help them to write new ones? If you can adequately present solid evidence for why you are as good a choice, or better than someone else who fits their little box, maybe then they might recognize the term overqualified, actually translates into eminently qualified.
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