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Why You Should Hire That Overqualified Consultant

By Ken Chen

When I was a full-time marketing manager working for a startup, we needed to hire a marketing consultant to help with a new product launch on a tight timeline. We interviewed several candidates, but one we really liked was well qualified, almost too qualified. She had all the right expertise and experience in marketing, including a vice president role at a large, prestigious company.

The contract job required getting into down-and-dirty details, including managing multiple website launches, emails, and tracking URLs. Why would a former VP want to do this work, I asked her. Her immediate response was because she loved digging in and getting things done. But that wasn’t all.

Let’s dive into an “overqualified” consultant’s mindset to see what other reasons might be in play. But first, what does overqualified really mean?

Overqualified Is A Loaded Word

As a client that needs to hire a marketing consultant or contractor, you may review a candidate’s experience and not even want to interview them because they’re overqualified. Are you thinking what I was secretly thinking?

  • This person makes me nervous with all this experience. She might outshine me and threaten my job.
  • This person seems “too mature” to fit into our young, hip culture.
  • This person may be “too smart” and get bored or be insulted with the tasks we need him/her to do.
  • This person will probably want a higher pay rate than I can afford.

It turns out that a consultant usually has a completely different mindset than a job candidate looking to join a company as a full-time employee. It’s time to think of hiring a consultant with a different lens.

A Consultant’s Mindset: Different Than Full-Time

At EM Marketing, we have a variety of highly-qualified marketing consultants. Some consultants have over 15-20 years of experience and are not looking to climb the corporate ladder. They don’t necessarily want to gain more responsibility at this point in their career. They are not really interested in office politics. They just want to do honest work with fair pay.

Many consultants are simply looking for projects that fit their lifestyles. For instance, parents who have taken time off to raise kids may have been out of the workforce for a while and are ready to jump back in. They don’t mind rolling up their sleeves to do the dirty work. But the marketing programs they executed before may have evolved. And perhaps they have had experience in an industry but would like to learn a new, interesting one. Or perhaps they would just like more work-life balance.

What You’re Missing Out On

What we’re here to tell you is that you are missing out. These overqualified consultants can bring a lot of value to your company. Why?

  • With more experience, the less training they need and the faster they can jump in.
  • With an outside perspective, they can bring new, innovative ideas to your team.
  • They have a higher level of professionalism, making it easy to work with them.
  • Having worked in different environments, they can adjust to the corporate culture quickly.
  • You don’t have to worry about a big ego. They know what they’re signing up for.

In general, the qualities listed above can bring increased productivity and cost savings. Imagine hiring a person with only three to five years of experience. You may be able to hire them at a lower rate, but consider that there’s an extra layer of effort needed for them to get up to speed and work strategically and efficiently.

In Conclusion

Next time you see a profile that screams “overqualified,” don’t pass it by. Take a moment to think about all the positive things you’ll gain. You’ll be happier with the output of an experienced consultant. As many of EM Marketing’s clients have said, “We got more out of it than I thought!”


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About Ken Chen

Ken Chen is San Francisco-based online marketing consultant and owner of EM Marketing. EM Marketing specializes in marketing strategy, product launches, customer acquisition, and mobile & social marketing.

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