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Get the Most Out of Overqualified Workers


Many managers fear that overqualified workers will be unproductive, due to boredom or a sense that the job is beneath them. There is also concern that they might find something better and quit. For these reasons, we often don’t even consider hiring employees who look like they’d be better suited to a higher-level position. Here’s why that’s a mistake.

(Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo/Flickr)

Do You Know What You're Worth?

There is a growing body of research that indicates overqualified employees are good for the business because they outperform their colleagues. With this in mind, hiring managers may be well advised to seek out the overqualified when combing through resumes.

For example, the Harvard Business Review cites research that found employees with above-average intelligence stayed in jobs such as window washing and garbage collecting for personal, lifestyle reasons. They either liked the hours offered or approved of the values of the company. Instead of ruling out the seemingly overqualified, hiring managers would be better off talking to job candidates about why they are interested in the position, and not ruling out overqualified people who have lifestyle reasons.


Evidence also suggests that offering the overqualified worker some degree of decision-making power and autonomy is a great way to keep them on the job. This seems like a win-win situation. Allow the employee to have a little more power, and take the burden off of your own shoulders. Instead of seeing the overqualified employee as a threat, see him as a useful and reliable member of the company. A little empowerment usually counters any dissatisfaction an overqualified employee may be feeling, and buys the employer an extremely valuable, long-term employee.

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Do you supervise overqualified workers? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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A lot of the time, the hire managers fear their overqualified subordinates due to their own insecurity. They’re afraid that hiring someone who can do a better job with minimal or zero supervision will make them obsolete. Middle managements are notorious for lacking hard technical abilities.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.