Find a Job that Matters

How Tapping Your Passion Can Get You the Job

Posted on by Jessica Williams

With employers hiring for personality fit as much as for your skill set job seekers today need to show they not only can get the work done, but also fit the culture of an organization.

What’s the best way to do this? Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook may have the answer.

At a Portland luncheon this week sponsored by the Oregon chapter of the International Association of Business Communicator (IABC) and Social Media Club PDX, Ekaterina Walter spoke about her new book, “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg.”

Walter said that Zuckerberg hires people who are passionate. He doesn’t care what their passion is as long as they are passionate about something. He believes he can channel that energy into a purpose that aligns with his vision. 

Where to find your passion?

Look at What You Do in Your Spare Time

Are you passionate about running, but never go running? Do you claim to be passionate about cooking, but never cook? Stop fooling yourself. Whatever you spend most of your time doing – there’s your passion.

Don’t Waste Your Time or Anyone Else’s For That Matter

True story: seven years ago I decided to sail around the world with my then-partner. Why? He was passionate about sailing around the world. He would read book after book, and blog after blog on sailing.

Me? I was convinced that I was passionate about sailing but I couldn’t bring myself to read a sailing book if my life depended on it. I wanted to read books on travel, yoga, philosophy, and poetry.

I spent four years of my life following my passion for sailing before I realized I wasn’t fooling anyone. I was no more passionate for sailing than I was about digging a hole in the dirt. I only wanted to sail so I could travel and I could have saved myself a lot of time lost if I’d paid attention.

Show Passion In Your Job Search

Volunteer for your passion, network where your passion is, do informational interviews in the fields where you are passionate, or take classes in your passion. Do you really care about the environment? Let it shine in your interview – it shows personality, enthusiasm and commitment to a cause – all valuable traits in any employee.

The Ultimate Test: Combine Your Passion with Your Strengths 

Great with numbers but passionate about saving animals? If you get a job as an accountant at an animal welfare nonprofit will working for your cause and being surrounded by likeminded people be enough? Maybe yes, maybe not. Maybe you want to transition into a new skill all together to pursue your passion?

Show Your Passion No Matter What

Show your passion in your cover letter, resume and the job interview. Employers with an entrepreneurial spirit look for passionate people who will join them in their vision. Are you that person? Share your passions in a hobbies section on your resume or in your online portfolio.

Do the Work 

Don’t know how to make a living from your passion? Not sure what you’re passionate about? As a trusted advisor once told me, “Honey, you have to do the work.”

Journal, mentor, interview, read, process, visualize – but do the work towards figuring it out. Don’t waste your potential.

Molly Mahar, founder of Stratejoy is a great place to start! She has free resources to help you find your calling.

Paul Angone of AllGroanUp is also a great resource for career advice and following your passion.

How has your passion helped you in your job search? Please let us know below!

Jessica Williams
Jessica is a former account director for Mac's List and Prichard. In her spare time, Jessica can be caught hiking with her dog Zoey, traveling to foreign lands or practicing yoga.
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  • Great!
    What if you don’t have a passion under this definition?

    • I suppose it can be defined however you want. Just knowing what you’re interested in can be a start. ~Jessica

  • Nice piece, Jessica! I think our fears in pursuing what we are passionate about stems from a narrow perspective on what “following our dreams” looks like. We don’t have to all quit our jobs and start an Etsy site making handmade wallets from recycled candy wrappers. You can start small, you can volunteer, or – what many don’t consider – do it in a different way.

    For example, if you want to work in sustainability, start by picking a couple of your favorite nonprofits as a volunteer while keeping your “day job”. Get your hands dirty, and “do the work” as you mentioned in your post. Too many folks just want to transition to a job from something completely opposite, yet don’t want to do the work to get there (even though they worked their way up in their previous career). You’re trying to create a relationship, so while passion is important, it’s got to have substance. Take classes, volunteer, network. You may consider your skills “transferable” but there are a hundred people out there applying for that job who have the direct experience, which more often than not will be chosen over yours. So just because you love animals, if you’ve never done anything to demonstrate that love besides own a dog, you’re not going to be marketable.

    Another way to transition is to find a company who shares that passion – but go to them doing what you currently do. So if you’re an accountant who wants to work on AIDS related causes, apply for jobs in accounting with those organizations, THEN transition internally to new roles. You’ll have absorbed the culture, shown your ability to perform, and with those relationships, be able to create the opportunities to move into your dream role.

    Side note: As a career coach, some of my clients come to me and are ready to change – they’re humble, open to learning, and take immediate action on what they need to do to transition. Others fight it every step of the way, complaining, not following through with connections I’ve helped them make, and showing an overall unwillingness to change their approach. We’ve got to remind ourselves of the definition of insanity 🙂

    • Aimee,

      Thank you for the thoughts! I couldn’t agree more! Meaningful, fulfilling work doesn’t always come easy. It takes effort on our part to navigate our way there. ~Jessica

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