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Overqualified? Is there such a thing?

Recently an associate was denied the opportunity to pursue a prestigious leadership position within the credit union industry. They received an email from the President stating that they were overqualified for the position and would not be interviewed or considered.

Overqualified? Is there such a thing? Or is this code speak for something else? Was the CEO threatened by this candidate?

My colleague was shaken by these events and, in fact, heard something completely different. They heard that they were overaged, followed by other, over personal traits, such as gender and culture. These suspicions were greatly magnified when the successful candidate was the complete opposite, demographically.

It is understandable that the leader wants the right fit for their team. However, can that be determined by merely reviewing a resume?

As I see it there are several issues here.

First, credit unions own approximately 8% of the market. To gain market share from banks, enhance our industry, continue to grow, fend off threats from fintechs and benefit more consumers we must develop robust, overqualified teams committed to delivering outstanding service and value to the members. Overqualified individuals have the habit of improving and developing their fellow team members. Don’t credit unions need teams of overqualified members leading the charge to improve?

Secondly, great leaders seek and build teams with knowledge and capabilities that exceed their own. They have learned their lessons and do not want to be the smartest person in the room. Therefore, they search for the most qualified candidates that they believe will enhance their team. However, they do not stop there. They commit to developing the talent of their credit unions, for the benefit of the individual and the members.

Finally, ambiguity within the email message created the concerns mentioned. Leaders must have the conviction in their decisions and provide crystal clear messages. Decisions and messages must be based upon truth and how they support the strategic vision.

I implore credit union leaders to seek overqualified talent, develop their existing team members so they become overqualified and create cohesive teams of these outstanding individuals that will further the advancement of credit unions worldwide.