For high performance, here are reasons and strategies for hiring “over-qualified” employees


Pictured in the Warner Brothers’ movie, “To Have and Have Not,” Hoagy Carmichael is credited with coining the phrase, “Slow motion gets you there faster.” He, of course, was a famous American composer, pianist, and actor.

Born in Indiana in 1899, he composed hundreds of songs and is best known for his songs “Stardust,” “Georgia on My Mind,” and “Heart and Soul” – some of the most highly regarded American pop standards.

When his career took off in the 1940s, he had a hit radio show on CBS, movie parts and recording contracts. He won the Academy Award in 1951 for best original song in co-writing “In the cool, cool, cool of the evening” with famed lyricist Johnny Mercer.

From what I gather, he was rather intense. After earning a law degree and practicing law, he decided music was his preference as a career.

He loved jazz and worked in New York, but he decided to move to Hollywood to accelerate his music career. His strategy worked for four decades.

He passed away in 1981.

His quote about slow motion is relevant in this digital age with the Internet and its constant blasts of minutiae leading us to distraction and a state of impatience. That’s sad.

Patience is indeed a virtue. We add to our difficulties when we address them in a hurried frame of mind.

Our frenzied behavior has led to multi-tasking, which carries a heavy price for us to pay. It’s costing us the ability to focus, engage in deep thought and plan strategically.

If you’re feeling distracted and unable to accomplish your goals, stop wrestling with these issues. It’s time to slow down and learn the art of uni-tasking. That’s the only way to focus and to achieve your goals. Another way to put it, compartmentalizing, which is an effective way to solve business problems.

Patience is indeed a virtue. We add to our difficulties when we address them in a hurried frame of mind.

Two key questions

So ask yourself, these key questions:

1. “Is this productive?

2. Is what I’m doing now going to help me achieve my goal?”

Chances are, if you ask these questions, and your answer is a resounding “no,” set aside your multi-tasking.

If you’re in management or a business owner, the same is true when hiring employees. Many harried bosses have the tendency to hire younger faces. They want to save costs in salaries and benefits.

They think it helps their business image. Ageism is not a good thing.

They also see older workers, even over-qualified applicants, as slow and stodgy. To them, over-qualified is a code term for old.

On the contrary, hiring older, over-qualified employees will propel you to victory. They’re often more methodical and they think things through. This means less margin for errors and better odds for high performance. So if you’re recruiting for a position, keep an open mind.

Seasoned workers

Here are four strategies to succeed with over-qualified applicants:

1. Don’t ignore an applicants’ accomplishments – recognize them

If you have a concern about the applicants’ background, discuss it with the persons. If the persons’ successes keep you from hiring them consider whether this means you have a self-esteem issue.

Find out how the persons’ attributes in past successes can help you now and for the long term.

2. Dig deeper into why the persons want to work for you

Learn more about the applicants’ motives and reasons for applying. Yes, the economy can be a factor. Such a person might be desperate. Maybe so.

But what about other possible motives? Was the person burned out? Does the person want to revert to a job that was more enjoyable earlier in their career? You’ll learn some important information about the person’s philosophy.

3. Examine whether the applicants require less job training

Heavily experienced applicants often better understand how to be flexible and are skilled at adapting to your rapidly changing marketplace.

Such persons might be valuable in mentoring your less-experienced workers. All of this means you’ll have a better chance to sleep at night.

4. Your hires should also be focused on attitude

Instead of focusing on the wrong issue of over-qualification, look to see if the persons fit in your culture. Or, are they likely to enhance your culture.

Can you give them responsibility or autonomy? If so, they will make your organization stronger and you’ll have a happier work environment.

The next time you recruit for a position, think about Hoagy Carmichael’s philosophy. Listen to some of his 1940’s compositions. It won’t hurt. Slow motion will get you there faster.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips:

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations — How should you properly evaluate employees? Make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations. Naturally, you want to praise good performance and discourage bad. What are the best ways? Here’s how to avoid making those classic mistakes.

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

6 Tips to Turn Your HR Department into a Profit Center — At least 50 percent of a company’s profits are contingent on employee problems. If you have challenges in one department, odds are you have HR issues in other departments. In fact, human capital is the No. 1 reason why CEOs lose sleep. Many businesses often need an objective source of information and expertise from critical thinkers. It’s true you can turn your human resources department into a profit center.

“I’m not the manager because I’m always right, but I’m always right because I’m the manager.”

-Gene Mauch


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.