Credentials versus Potential: On Choosing the Best Person for the Job

There aren’t really any strict rules or guidelines when it comes to screening all the potential new hires for your business or company. Many would say that the hiring process is an inexact science, and because of this there are probably as many ways you could go about it as there are businesses all over. Inexact it may be, there are still a few generally accepted tips for anyone looking to recruit new employees, and following these snippets of advice usually turns out well in the end. One strategy, however, breaks out of the norm and actually advocates the hiring of under-qualified personnel over those who have the experience and knowledge needed for the job. Let’s explore a little more on this.

Dangers of (Over) Qualified Hires

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Before getting to the details of why you should hire under-qualified workers, let us first tackle on the reasons why you shouldn’t hire people with more than enough credentials. First, it is important to note that while inherent skills can take an employee a long way into a good career, there are also other factors that you should consider, including character and personality. This is especially true for small businesses, where the basic skills are easy enough to learn given time and where employee loyalty is that much more crucial.

• Arrogance. Not everyone has the penchant for feeling entitled to a job, but it is a bigger danger when it comes to people who have the chops for the position. The ones you have to look out for are those that, when hired, stop trying to impress you because they feel that their bulky resumes have already done it for them. Always remember to stress that once hired, it is their performance and attitude that will matter.

• Complacency. Out of the different traits you should look for in new hires, complacency shouldn’t be one of them. It’s all too easy for a qualified person to just take the job, do it day to day and not try to better his skills. Even with the threat of someone getting fired, these people would feel secure because they have better credentials than the others and believe that you would get rid of the others before them.

• No room for growth. Of course, there are also those people who have all the necessary qualifications and are also driven at the same time. When someone is overqualified, however, and you give this person a simple job, expect that the employee would learn and master the tasks quickly. Sure, that sounds like a positive thing, but when your employees start to get bored and feel dissatisfied because you’re not giving them opportunities to develop, you are eventually going to be faced with good people walking out your doors.

Potential of Under-qualified Hires

Now, let us move on to the possibilities and the great potential with under-qualified people. In fact, we can go so far as to say that it is better to hire the least qualified person when faced with the choice. The simple explanation would just be to turn all of the previous points completely around, but let us elaborate on the different points anyway.

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• Humility. The first and most important thing when it comes to hiring under-qualified personnel is addressing the new hire’s shortcomings and bringing home the point that you are merely giving the person a chance to prove that he can step up and perform well at the job. When a new hire is aware that you are merely giving him the opportunity to prove himself, that person will be more open to criticism, more attentive at addressing his shortcomings, and generally be a more humble employee.

• Drive. Extending on the first point, under-qualified workers are more likely to have that drive not only to do the job correctly but also to go the extra mile in all of his tasks. Skills can only take a person so far, and without the desire to apply these skills in entirely new ways, an overqualified person can easily fall behind in “Employee-of-the-month” points. Take note that small businesses don’t usually want for extremely technical knowhow, so difference in skill levels is not a big issue in the long run.

• Always something new to learn. The possibility of reaching a point where the learning plateaus is pretty much the same for all people. However, by building up a habit of learning in your new hire, you can make sure that your employees are always looking towards new knowledge, maybe even skills that you cannot teach them yourself. As others say with under-qualified hires, there are no bad habits to break, only good habits to form.

Again, it is very important to remember that it’s a different scenario for each business; that’s where the inexactness of hiring comes in. Still, as long as you know what you want and how to handle your employees, you are sure to make the right choices, whether you decide to hire credentials or potentials.



One thought on “Credentials versus Potential: On Choosing the Best Person for the Job

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this topic, under-qualified candidates tends to have more drive in their work, they are willing to grow and be nurtured, they are always challenged. But I also believe that when a person is eager and excited to excel on a healthy environment no matter what her credential says or be it a young or old person, great things will happen.

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