Benefits of Hiring an Underqualified Candidate

Last week we looked at some of the reasons that you may want to hire an overqualified candidate. There are risks associated with overqualified candidates, including the likelihood of them leaving for a higher paying position or showing an unwillingness to take direction. But there are also benefits, including the talent, knowledge, and drive that comes with these types of candidates.

Well, we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss another group you may be in a hurry to overlook – the underqualified candidates.

Why Hire Underqualified Candidates?

By definition, an underqualified candidate is someone that may not necessarily be right for the job. They don’t have the strongest resume or education, and on paper they aren’t necessary perfect for the job.

Of course, these players come with risk. Lots of risk, in fact. They’re underqualified, which means that they are:

  • Less likely to know what to do.
  • Less likely to handle the demands of the position.
  • Less likely to adapt to the work environment quickly.

Hiring an underqualified candidate in many ways makes little sense. But that doesn’t mean they make no sense, and there are situations where you will want to strongly consider the underqualified candidate. Consider the following:

  • Talent Doesn’t Always Have Qualifications

This is the most important reason to at least consider unqualified talent. Your goal is always (always, always) to hire talent. You want someone that is going to thrive in the role, and deliver outstanding results to your business.

Talent comes in all shapes and sizes, all ages, and all experiences. If you analyse someone and it’s clear that they have some real, valuable talent, then you don’t want to exclude them simply because their talent doesn’t match what you thought you needed for the job, you’re going to let that talent go to one of your competitors instead.

  • Not All Qualifications Are Important

One of the most dangerous lines you can add to any job description is “minimum X years experience.” That is because rarely, if ever, does that literal amount of minimum experience become necessary. Many places put statements like “Minimum 5 years of experience.” Should someone not apply if they have 4 years? What about 3? What if they’re extremely talented but only have 2? Why not even 1?

All you’re looking for is talent. If someone only works in the field for a short time, but is extremely knowledgeable and skilled, then lacking a few years of experience is irrelevant. It’s dangerous enough to share a minimum number of years on a job board posting since you may turn off qualified talent that doesn’t match that criteria, but it’s even worse to turn down great applicants because they were unable to meet those expectations.

  • Less Qualified Can Mean Better Loyalty

Theoretically, though it would occur on a case by case basis, an employee that is not necessarily qualified for the position should be more likely to be thankful for the opportunity you have given to them, and stay with you longer.

For this to be true, the applicant needs to be someone that appreciates jobs and seems like someone that would have great loyalty, and that’s something you’re going to have to figure out based on that person’s character. But someone that has natural loyalty is more likely to appreciate the job they have, and what they can do with it.

  • Anyone Can Grow and Learn

Ask anyone that has hired for years and they’ll tell you that, experience or no experience, you never know how much training someone will need or how they’ll handle the position until they’re in it. Sure, there are exceptions – you don’t want to hire someone to lead IT if they don’t know coding, or hire someone for social media manager when they have yet to open a Facebook account, but lots of “experienced” workers need to be trained and re-trained based on your company’s principles, programs, and processes. Experience will have very little effect on that.

It could even be argued that an intelligent and skilled worker that happens to be less qualified may even be better for learning, because they are more open to new experiences and a new way of doing things.

So Should You Hire Unqualified Candidates?

You shouldn’t necessary hire or not hire someone based on one thing. Unqualified applicants are, by definition, high risk. Hire someone that is over their head, and that person could bring down your entire company.

But you shouldn’t immediately exclude people either. With all components of recruitment, you should take everyone into some consideration, and use what you’ve learned to decide whether or not they are worth the hire. Every single person is different, so every person should be considered before excluding them because of one single factor.

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