The Opportunity Cost with Overqualified Thinking “You must be this tall to ride space mountain.”

The theme park ride qualifying criteria of height has long been out of my comprehension. Even if safety is still at the heart of the issue, you’re still turning away customers. Height isn’t a choice, nor is it (non-surgically/naturally) changeable. 

The label of “overqualified”, should be a compliment in every sense used in a  career context and now we’re seeing a wealth of “overqualified” candidates unable to join “a ride” because they’re too tall. This vanilla feedback is being distributed with overwhelming frequency, those who’ve climbed to impressive heights in their careers are no longer getting the meeting in the office lobby. They still have lots left to give.

“Overqualified” thinking has been with the hiring practice for many a decade now and in ordinary times the prevailing logic had some rationale. “You’ll leave us for a higher job or higher salaried position when it becomes available (Isn’t this the case for most of us regardless of the level of our experience?).

There has been no time more opportune than now to flip the thinking on this label. Changing market conditions mean shifts to the prevailing logic. There exists a huge opportunity cost of not exploring these conversations and at this present time we need to be stockpiling skills rather than harvesting “profiles”. 

Cueing my inner Yoda: Asking you to make a commitment to hiring “overqualified” I am not. Asking you to meet the individual behind the resume I am, even if they bring more to the table than the job description. Especially if they have brought more to the table before.

Opportunities never present themselves on paper as clearly as they do in conversation and 2000 words on a page doesn’t generate hypespace thinking about the talent/person behind the resumé. Two minds in a dance of discussion generate more ideas than one mind staring into the monitor.

Remember: Story Interoperability > Resume Interoperability. More experienced individuals typically have more stories.

If we assume that almost everyone will be drawn into taking a job offer with higher role & salary we have to defend our territory (talent) with other weapons and techniques. Minimized risk stands level or above salary or title right now.

Stability and security, two playing cards that’ll see your employment hand win over the house’s hand of a pure or title salary play. In today’s constantly shifting environment combined with a lower job supply the need for security and safety rises to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.

Nothing is guaranteed right now and the talent doesn’t expect you to fix them to “guaranteed contracts”, they’ll want to really know you. The assessment around the stability in an opportunity looks at financial health, but it also looks at the expectations put on their role. Do I think I can succeed?

Stability is scarce now, its value has risen dramatically in 2020. The overqualified candidate will stick with you like most other candidates if they feel you can offer them a sustainable outcomeA future.

How come?

That’s right you guessed it, empathetic equity. If your business, environment and team can build an authentic connection with an individual driven by respect and reciprocity they’ll plant deep roots into your topsoil. Conventional thinking has us assuming that people will only ascend or move laterally in their careers. We believe a move backward is only negative without understanding the context. For many people the opportunity to work in a different environment and culture may provide intangible benefit.

Calling Out The Territorial Lions And Lionesses

Good talent is intimidating. In my last company I was lucky to hire one individual who I believe could fill my seat quite adequately and then some. In those first few months I experienced a “self-generated” pressure to guard up and shore up. I could’ve easily been consumed by this insecurity, but something special happened. He got open, deguarded and made effort to connect. He led me to leading.

We all have insecurities, its on us to break out of these mental patterns and only then can we begin to take advantage of the massive talent opportunity that is the hiring of story veterans.

One of the best practices one can commit to is to consistently meet good people, above your level, at your level or coming through to your level. Increased interactions = Increased Ideation = Increased Innovation.