What is it about?

The statement ‘you’re overqualified’ is increasingly causing aggravation amongst job seekers who are rejected by recruiters when their qualifications or skills exceed the requirements of the available job. Scholarly research has linked overqualification with a range of unwanted outcomes, including job dissatisfaction, boredom and work withdrawal behaviour This paper initiates a conversation on the bright side of overqualification by examining the extent to which it may help in promoting innovative work behaviour.

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Why is it important?

This article, published in Personnel Review, dispels the predominant negative narrative about overqualification by showing that it can bring positivity to the workplace. We argue that overqualification can improve innovative behaviour because skills and abilities of overqualified employees support divergent thinking, which is a prerequisite for innovation. Our research integrates the human capital and self-efficacy theories to discuss that individuals take initiative, and the level of their creative self-confidence helps in spurring innovative behaviour at work. We provide evidence of the capabilities possessed by overqualified employees in the form of their creative self-confidence, which they deploy to support innovation at work. In addition to this, this study shows that the positive effects of perceived overqualification on innovative behaviour are stronger when employees perceive higher psychological safety at work.


Our research highlights the salience of overqualification during the job recruitment process. Its findings have implications for organisations that consider hiring overqualified employees to boost innovation, because, for this to occur, management should ensure that such employees are provided with a safe and secure environment where employees have the freedom and autonomy to engage in non-routine tasks to spur innovation.

Dr Saima Ahmad
RMIT University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: How and when overqualification improves innovative work behaviour: the roles of creative self-confidence and psychological safety, Personnel Review, January 2022, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/pr-06-2020-0429.
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