Today, corporations that are looking to fill an open position are often inundated with resumes from an out-of-work pool of talent, casualties of the widespread downsizing in the current recession. Never before have companies had so many overqualified candidates apply for a job and express willingness to work for a salary less than their credentials have commanded in the past.
Common wisdom suggests that a recession is an ideal opportunity to staff up with talent that normally would be outside the budget. Some companies are taking advantage of this situation and bringing on board formerly out-of-reach talent or upgrading their staffs to include some more qualified or talented people. Banks, for example, are now successfully hiring former employees of downsized or bankrupt investment banks.
Many managers, however, are hesitant to hire the overqualified. How does the manager know if the match will last, or if the applicant merely wants to continue the job search while bringing home a paycheck?
Executive search firms have to deal with this issue on a daily basis. Anne Wyser-Pratte, a New York-based consultant with Heidrick and Struggles, a global retainer search firm, says that in her current searches she is finding that a focus on "best qualified," not a preoccupation with "overqualified," is the most appropriate perspective. "Is there enough room to absorb the talents of the 'overqualified' candidate? There has to be a place for the person to go in the company and/or a place in the market for the company to grow. There is no such thing as a bargain if the candidate doesn't offer a good fit," says Wyser-Pratte.
She tells corporate clients that her firm welcomes the opportunity to seek creative solutions to a search, and more than half the time clients presented with …