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April 24, 2014
Hiring the Overqualified
You've found just the right employee. He or she's smart, together, has a great work ethic and dynamic personality...and is overqualified for the job. But they’ll take it.
Now it's your decision. Should you hire them, or will this just end in disaster as he or she gets bored in the job and doesn't find it challenging enough to stay or even put forth their best effort?
As an employer, what do you do with an overqualified employee?
Over the past few years, with the recession, many people have been willing to take positions where they were overqualified. The economy is slowly picking up, but there are still some overqualified applicants seeking jobs, and there always will be.
What should you do as the employer? Do you let them go as they are overqualified, or do you take them on and hope for the best?
Hiring and Working With the Overqualified
Many argue that hiring an overqualified applicant is a win-win. You get all their expertise and they get a job.
Sometimes it does work out, and here are some instances when you should hire the overqualified, and how to make them happy.


  • If you’ve given the applicant a clear understanding of her new position and she’s happy with it. You don't want to have someone working with you who does not have a clear understanding of her tasks and obligations, regardless of qualifications. Make sure she's comfortable if her supervisor is younger or less qualified, tasks may not use her full potential, or she may encounter monotony. If she understands and is good with it, go with her.
  • Once she's working there, try to find some things here and there she could take on to keep her interested and invested. These may be temporary or short-term, but may make the job seem more interesting.
  • If the situation allows, in time, give her a raise. You don't have to promise this early on, but if it works out, it's a good gesture.
  • Keep her in mind for promotions or other positions that may suit her skill set better, and let her know this.

Choosing Not to Hire the Overqualified Applicant
Sometimes it's best to just let her find something else because you know it won't work no matter how great she is.

  • If you can find someone who may not be as qualified but will do the same particular job and expect less, go with the less qualified.
  • You can pay a less-qualified employee less for the same job, and this will help your budget.
  • You won't have to worry about finding additional tasks on par with the overqualified employee's skills to keep her happy and motivated.

Sometimes, you just have to let the good ones go.
On the other hand, if you see a place in the future where the overqualified employee may fit, grab her while you can and keep an eye out for added work for her, and maybe that more suitable position down the road.
Remember, though; be open about the current position and the expectations.

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Heather Legg is an Atlanta-based independent writer who covers career and business topics, including social media, small business, personal finance, and brick and mortar business degrees and getting an online degree in business

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