You’re Good at Your Job, but Not Passionate—is that Enough?

fuel your passion 2

You go to work every day and do a good job.  You care (to a certain extent) about how well the company does.  Your job is stable, and you think it is “ok.”  But is that enough?  Staying in a job when you lack passion is something you should contemplate. Should you stay in a career just because you are good at something, even if passion for the work is not there?

Legendary entrepreneur and inventor Steve Jobs would say no.  In his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, he told graduates that they must find work they love. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work,” Jobs said.  “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

It sounds great, but why do so many of us settle?  Is it because the things we’re passionate about don’t translate to jobs that pay the bills?  What can passion look like in a work environment? Do passionate employees mean a better return on investment? If so, should companies place more value on passion when hiring?

Being Good at a Job vs. Being Passionate

Being “good” in a job and being passionate for your work do not always go hand-in-hand. Marc DeBoer, founder of A Better Interview, LLC describes a common hiring scenario: “I’ve hired many people before who were really good at their jobs and you know what happened to them? They did a phenomenal job! *Bet you didn’t expect that. They had the exact skills I was looking for and they fulfilled the job responsibilities to a “T,” but there was only one problem; these people never went above and beyond, they only did what their job required.”  He says that they never lasted more than 3-4 years on the job because they didn’t love it.

Talent and drive are the two most often overlooked qualities in the job search and interview process, according to Joe Santana of Tech Republic.  During interviewing, candidates who do not possess the prerequisite skills are not considered when they should be.  He feels that talent and passion should be given greater interviewing weight.  “I have found that people do their best when they are doing things that they naturally do well (have talent for) and enjoy doing (have a passion to perform),” says Santana. “Over the past decades, I witnessed again and again how two equally trained professionals could perform the same job and produce opposite results in terms of quality and customer satisfaction solely because of the talent and passion, or lack thereof, that they brought to the task.”

Personal Return on Investment

Is there ROI value for passionate employees? Although hard to quantify, consider this example: “It’s great to have a good salesperson who does well in your organization.  It’s even better to have a great salesperson that believes in the corporate mission and bleeds your company colors. Prospects and clients will find them more convincing when pitching your products and a great salesperson will push harder to make the sale because they have a passion for what they do and the product they sell (Accolo).”

Where Passion Shows

Passion for a job shows in many different areas such as physical energy, enthusiasm, attitude, loyalty, positive talk with coworkers, intrinsic motivation, and a willingness to go above and beyond.  You will easily get the feeling that passionate employees WANT to be there.  They believe in the company’s mission and take things personally. A passionate employee will get excited about a new idea rather than shrug at the extra work.

Making Passion Come Across in an Interview

Companies should look closely at their hiring processes to make room for candidates who do not currently check the prerequisite skill boxes but do have passion for the company or role. You can also consider creating ways to develop them which may lead to passion. Read more about that here. 

These candidates may seem like a hiring “risk” but will soon become fiercely loyal and quickly make up for any deficits.

Artemis Consultants recommends that interviewing candidates work on showing passion for a position by making sure the hiring manager understands WHY they want the job. They should do their homework on the company’s mission/ vision and explain how their passion matches up.

Hiring managers should be open to these candidates and realize that skills can be taught, but passion cannot.

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