December 20, 2022

Overqualified is garbage

Authors:

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Ageism rant incoming

Overqualified is a garbage term and we should stop using it.

It could mean a lot of different things. e.g. We think you’d be unhappy in the role. You’re too expensive. There’s little growth. etc.

All of which you could address head on with an actual conversation with the candidate. Verify that your assessment is true. (Crazy thought: you might be wrong!)

Here’s where the real problem comes in:

👉Overqualified can also mean “you’re too old.”

Ah yes. The elephant in the room. Ageism is a special kind of discrimination. It’s the one literally everyone will have to deal with some day. (Ironically, only if you’re lucky. It beats the alternative…)

And it’s also the one people feel most comfortable leaning into.

The bias comes from the notion that hiring younger, cheaper talent and training them is the best way to retain a team long term.

Fun fact: did you know the opposite is true?

  • Median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 (9.8 years)
  • Median tenure of workers ages 25 to 34 years (2.8 years) (source)

I’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Even if you’re not discriminating, stop using it anyway. Without further elaboration or a conversation with the candidate, it still sounds like ageism to them.

And if we’re being honest, we all know how bad most companies are at giving feedback and having uncomfortable conversations. That’s another rant for another day.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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