Hire Overqualified Candidates

Hiring managers shouldn’t be so quick to eliminate overqualified candidates from consideration for new jobs. A new study in the Academy of Management Journal revealed that employees who are considered overqualified for a job can take the position in a new, positive direction. Employees who are overqualified, up to a certain point, bring an added level of innovation and dedication to their jobs, according to the research. “A low-to-intermediate degree of perceived underemployment may drive employees to craft their jobs actively in ways that benefit the organization,” the study’s authors wrote. “Recruitment managers should not turn away job applicants who are overqualified, because such individuals, if managed appropriately, may bring creativity and organizational citizenship behavior to the organization.”

The degree to which someone is overqualified plays a critical role in determining whether or not they bring a unique perspective to their job. The study’s authors said when underemployment is perceived as too high, employees are often not motivated enough to do their jobs.

Employees who can bring a fresh perspective to how a job is done are highly valuable in today’s workplace. “Organizations today compete in a dynamic and uncertain environment in which creativity and organizational citizenship behavior are highly valuable,” the study’s authors wrote. For the research, the study’s authors conducted two studies of two different types of employees: school teachers and factory workers. In the first study, researchers surveyed 327 teachers at six high schools in China. Initially the teachers were queried on how overqualified, one a scale of one to seven, they felt they were for their jobs. One week later, they were asked to what extent they had engaged in job-crafting, such as introducing new approaches of their own to the classroom, organizing special events or bringing in materials from home. A final survey, another week later, asked the teachers to rate their creativity and organizational citizenship, which is defined as behavior that goes above and beyond the basic requirements of a job. The researchers found that job-crafting reached its peak among those who rated themselves a five on how overqualified they felt they were for their position.

The study’s authors said these teachers tended to do significantly more job-crafting than their peers who saw themselves as either more or less overqualified. The researchers said that extra job-crafting resulted in high ratings for both creativity and citizenship. In a second study, the researchers analyzed nearly 300 electronic toy factory workers. To determine how overqualified a worker was, the study’s authors had the technicians try to reproduce a model helicopter in less than 10 minutes. The number of pieces that the technicians were able to assemble in the short amount of time provided a reference to assess overqualification for this kind of work. The technicians were then given a second task. They were asked to design and assemble, in 30 minutes, at least one toy boat patterned after a model projected on a screen. Although a single boat required at least 30 components, the workers were free to use an unlimited number of parts to produce as many boats as they wanted. “If the workers used more than 30 pieces and assembled boats in different patterns . . . the excess number of the parts reflected the degree of self-driven effort for altering task boundary, i.e. task-crafting,” the study’s authors wrote.

Now Common for Temps and Freelancers

Full-time employees are no longer the only workers being subjected to background checks, new research shows. A study from the background screening firm HireRight revealed a significant increase in the number of organizations conducting background checks on temporary, contract and freelance workers. Specifically, 86 percent of employers are now screening contingent workers before bringing them on for any assignments. This is up 45 percent from 2012. “Contingent workers typically have the same type of access to company facilities, data, other employees and customers as full-time employees,” the study’s authors wrote. “For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly screen every worker in the same way, regardless of work status.”

While the influx of temporary workers is changing the background screening process for many employers, the decriminalization of marijuana many states have enacted is not. The study found that, despite a number of states legalizing marijuana during last year’s election, nearly 80 percent of the employers surveyed have no plans to change their drug screening policy this year.

Along with the states that allow decriminalized marijuana for personal use, 28 states now allow medical use of marijuana. “Whether or not you support the use of medical or recreational marijuana, it’s best to have a policy that explicitly states your organization’s position,” the study’s authors wrote. Background checks are typically a one-time occurrence for employees. The research found that 48 percent of employers do not rescreen their workers post-hire. Those that do conduct follow-up background checks typically do so when an employee is promoted or changes roles. “Unlike candidates hoping to join an organization, current employees already have access to highly sensitive information, such as records, business transactions, and financial data,” the study’s authors wrote. “Without occasional or regularly scheduled follow-up background checks, problems may arise that could seriously affect a business.” Overall, criminal history and past employment is what employers are looking for most during background screenings. The study found that 84 percent of organizations conduct criminal and other public record searches, with 72 percent checking previous employment and references.

Employers are finding more resume lies now than they were five years ago. The research shows that 85 percent of employers have found a lie or misrepresentation on a resume or job application, up from 66 percent in 2012. The biggest problem organizations say they face with background checks is that they are slowing down the hiring process. The study’s authors said that, with more complex candidate backgrounds, organizations are struggling to find a balance between speed and accuracy. “Organizations are now competing for the most qualified candidates and therefore putting greater emphasis on creating a positive onboarding experience, which includes the background check process,” said Mary O’Loughlin, vice president of global customer experience and product management for HireRight, in a statement. “Despite pressures to hire quickly, organizations should not overlook the importance of instituting a thorough background check process that includes creating a global policy, rescreening current employees, and ensuring a rigorous screening process for senior executives.”