Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hiring Strategies

There is a lot of advice available on job-hunting, resume building, and interviewing skills. But I theorize that there are as many hiring strategies out there as there are employers.

As a teenager, I worked for a man whose strategy it was to hire the best applicants, knowing they would move on to higher paying jobs, and he would have to replace them. He was willing to invest training into everyone, but was unwilling to give pay increases. For the retail business he was in, it worked well for him.

From there I moved on to a job in a lighting store, with slightly better pay, and a chance to move into a commissioned sales position. My employer took out an advertisement for a $8/hr warehouse worker. We received over 300 applications! From them she chose 3 to interview. I told her that there seemed to be better applicants than the ones whom she’d chosen, but she had no interest in them because their résumés were too good. She reasoned that someone too good would leave for higher wages and she’d just have to train someone new. She reasoned that a mediocre job called for a mediocre employee.

In time, I moved into another job where I would be screening applicants and making hiring recommendations myself. The positions that we needed to fill were basic, unskilled labor. I would look over the applications and indicate which applicants I was most interested in interviewing. The operations manager would reject all applications that were not accompanied by a resume. And any resume that was not professional looking was rejected as well. He liked hiring older women because he felt that they were more dependable than younger ones. The physical demands of the job seemed to me better suited to young women or men. After conducting interviews he and I often disagreed on which candidates to hire, but because of the high turnover, we ended up hiring nearly all of the people we had interviewed. I was very satisfied to find, that long after I had left the company, those that I had handpicked from the applicant pool were still thriving there.

I would love for my readers to weigh in on where they stand. Under what circumstances would you hire someone who was over-qualified? What strategies have you seen implemented? And with what results?


  1. In my "other" life I once was in charge of many things including hiring people. I made so many bad choices... they interviewed so well, looked good on paper.. but couldn't learn the job (gift wrapping and cash office functions), show up on time, show up at all or be nice to customers. No one overqualified ever applied.

  2. As an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, I am a graduate of the fifth top university from back in the day when higher education had actually meant "education" as opposed to "training." Ater moving to Canada, I'm so sick and tired of ALWAYS been turned down for being "over-qualified." What a double whammy: it's impossible to break into any professional niche since they are zealously territorial and won't acknowledge even professionals from other provinces of the same country(!), yet, no one wants to hire a university graduate for "low-grade" or no-brain jobs because they all think that the candidate would bail on them as soon as something better comes up.
    I finally got my break by pure fluke and guts when yet another employer turned me down for being "over-qualified" for a relatively "low-brainage" office job and I, now sure that I now had nothing left to loose, expressed my frustration at always being considered "over-qualified" and no one wanting to give me a chance.
    He gave me the job... I ended up being a temp there for more than 3 years. I finally left them primarily because they never did make me permanent, despite their repeated promises and breach of the Collective Agreement (by which they were not supposed to keep people on temp longer than 6 months).

    The irony of my quitting was in that I resented them refusing to train me for further advancement up the corporate ladder (the manager finally admitted to it when pressed).

    So, there we have it: initially, they won't hire me because I was over-qualified; then they denied me further training and promotion because they didn't want me to raise my qualification level in the "useful" skills the job required.

    After I've worked as a recruiter myself, I arrived to the conclusion that most employers really have no clue of who they really NEED to hire. They all want a candidate with a Ph.D. in nuclear physics and an MBA plus extensive experience in brain surgery in war times in field conditions, preference given to those who thrive in daily walks on water while solving 15 stochastic equations while meeting their sales quota, - all for a minimum wage and no chance of promotion.

    And on an occasion when they do get just that type of a candidate, they get very suspicious and turn then down! Or, if they do hire that rocket surgeon, they stick bury them alive in critical responsibilities like reception or filing and refuse them any chance for professional growth and advancement -why, because this incumbent is too smart/capable/over-qualified for this place as he is and would only leave them someday anyway.


    Sorry for what turned out to be a rant, I've observed A LOT of maddeningly illogical behaviors in employers.

  3. Serrelynda, You are a great writer! I love your rant! I relish the part about employers wanting brain surgeons with battle experience and a PhD in nuclear physics! I'd laugh hysterically if it weren't so painfully true!


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