Passion

The next time you read a job listing that mentions “passion” — either yours or the employer’s — stop for a moment. Mentally edit the writing to remove that word. Remove whole sentences if you have to; just get rid of that word. Would you agree the result sounds better?

The word “passion” really rubs me the wrong way. I’m not sure I can put my finger on a clear reason except that it sets off my BS alarm. I don’t think it’s just the fact that it’s overused; something about it feels offensive.

I’d be more attracted by a job listing that appeals to values and beliefs. “We believe this is the right way to build houses, or sell vacuum cleaners, or design furniture.” I can see how values and beliefs could translate into how an organization operates. Look at Fed Ex, which believes in “absolutely, positively”; you can imagine what that implies operationally. Look at The Container Store, which empowers all employees, every single one, to use their judgment and creativity when helping customers. Look at Apple, which believes in design, simplicity, and an integrated ecosystem. These companies are famous for their value systems.

True, an employer can just as easily BS about its “core beliefs” as about “passion”. But at least in a job interview you can talk about beliefs. You can ask for clarification. It can be a two-way conversation where you learn something about each other.

When’s the last time you asked an interviewer for an example of their passion?

2 thoughts on “Passion

  1. Agree with your posting, particularly when I think of contexts where “passion” had meaning (such as “Steve Jobs is passionate about quality” ) versus the watered-down-due-to-overuse expectation that all job seekers must be “passionate”.

    My mental image of a job interviewer who needs to see “passion” is they literally want to see a wagging tail on the job seeker — at all times — but a follower. What they don’t want is someone who is “passionate” to the point (say, like a Steve Jobs) where all impediments are simply willed away by sheer force of personality.

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