No overqualified staff, only underutilised skills

James Harris says there's no such thing as overqualified staff.

Many business owners realise the fundamental truth in the old adage, a business’ most important asset is its people.

However, many business owners struggle to apply this thinking when hiring and agreeing to staff training requests.

This shows up in phrases like, ‘overqualified’, ‘unnecessary training’ and ‘irrelevant experience’.

What is usually lacking is a clear understanding of how to apply unexpected qualifications, training and experience to a particular job role or workplace. When done right though, the benefits of thinking laterally about how to view and utilise atypical skillsets in roles can pay large dividends in a business.

To demonstrate what this lateral thinking can look like, we are going to use the example of the ‘Big Three’ qualifications that we as an organisation get excited about when we see on a resume for any role, and recommend clients look out for too.

The big three that we look for and the reasons why we look for staff with these qualifications are as follows:

Training and Assessment

Training is a skill and like any other it needs to be learnt and practiced. However, many businesses assume that just because someone can perform tasks well that they can teach others.

Nothing could be further from the truth; just because someone can do something well does not mean they can teach others to do it. For this reason, it is valuable for anyone in a role where they may be training and mentoring other staff, even informally, to have proper training and skills in this area.

And this is imperative for anyone in leadership roles because a core function of all leaders is to develop the people they lead, which means delivering training.

Our preference is for any staff who may mentor or train others, and for all staff in a leadership position, to have a Cert IV in Training and Assessment.

Work Health and Safety

As Work Health and Safety Officers often get exasperated from saying, Work Health and Safety (WHS) is everyone’s responsibility.

This is both legally and morally true and is the reason why we look very favourably upon all staff in all roles having formal training in WHS.

We also advocate for formal WHS training to be a requirement for everyone in a leadership position.

Our experience has been that completing a formal qualification in WHS makes people far more observant of, and likely to address, risks in their workplace. The more staff in a workplace that are risk aware, the safer the workplace becomes.

Our preference is for as many staff as possible, and all staff in leadership positions, to have a Cert IV in WHS.

Project Management

Our business treats every client consulting engagement as a project, complete with project scope, project budget and project management tools.

For this reason, it is an internal requirement that every client engagement is overseen by someone with at least a Diploma in Project Management.

This approach is not typical of how most businesses function; however, we suggest that where feasible all staff in leadership and management positions should have a formal qualification in project management at the Diploma level regardless of what your business does.

The reason for this is that most things that happen in businesses can be structured as mini projects, and often benefit from being structured that way. Additionally, people with formal training in project management will have some training in how to manage budgets and resources which is helpful in any role.

These are just three examples of how thinking laterally when assessing skillsets can improve your business.

There are many other examples of additional qualifications, training, and experience that will show up on applicants’ resumes.

It is worth hiring these additional skillsets in where you can, even if you don’t know precisely what you will use them for yet, because in a business there are no overqualified employees, only underutilised skills!

If you have a question about starting a business or running your existing business, we’d love to hear from you because we’ll select a new question to answer here every two weeks.

You can submit your question to using the subject ‘CQToday’.