Why Passion is the Most Important Credential When Looking For a Job

Say you’re looking for a job. Every day you scour the latest job postings while you sip your morning coffee. If you’re lucky, you find a handful of roles that seem promising so you gather your materials: resume, portfolio, cover letter, and send them off. Rinse. Repeat.

Or maybe you stumble upon what seems like your dream job. You quickly scan the responsibilities and skip ahead to the requirements, only to see that you don’t meet the requisite number of years’ experience. So you regretfully click away.

Except that way of tackling a job search is a one way ticket to exhaustion.

Passion is the real key to navigating your job search and ultimately, landing the job that’s right for you. Here’s why:

Passion Matters On the Job. Why Not Show It From Day One?

You know that old saying about never getting a second chance to make a good first impression? Like most clichés, it’s true.

If your cover letter is as dull as dishwater, or your resume is full of typos your application won’t get any further than the recycling bin.

Unless you impress them right out of the gate, hiring managers will likely move on to reviewing other candidates. By showing why you’re passionate about a particular position — or even the industry itself in your application — you set yourself apart from the competition.

Why? Because passionate people are, quite simply, better at their jobs.

Not only that, they experience greater job satisfaction. Those who find something at work to take pride in aren’t as likely to jump ship at the first opportunity–which is exactly the type of candidate recruiters are looking for.

Passion Needs To Be Genuine

Another old saying goes “fake it ’til you make it,” which, like most cliches is also true but should be exercised with caution.

If you hate dealing with the public, chances are you’re not going to make a very good cashier, and no amount of faking it will get you there.

Why? Because people–and particularly those who conduct interviews on a daily basis–can smell inauthenticity from a mile away.

Think about the last time you interacted with a cashier, for example. Was their smile genuine?

Did they say “have a great day,” as you left because they meant it, or because they were told to?

Skills Can be Taught, Passion Can’t

If you’re looking for a job then chances are you’ve read up on how to answer tough interview questions. While this research is helpful be careful not to let your answers become automatic; passion lives in the heart, not in a script.

Despite what you might think interviewers aren’t interested in hearing the “correct” answers. In fact, they’re not even particularly interested in your actual response to these questions.

What they’re really listening for is how you answer them. Are you quick on your feet? Do you think creatively? And, are you genuinely passionate about the role?

While it’s always a good idea to showcase your skills to a potential employer, don’t forget to make a point of expressing your enthusiasm. After all, skills can be taught, passion can’t.

The Interview is the Time to Show Up

Bring your whole self to the interview, not just the polished professional that desperately needs a job.

The interview is an opportunity to show the hiring manager the same level of passion you would bring to the job. So bring your sense of humor, your desire to learn about the company, and your interest in forming a connection with the person in front of you.

No one wants a stuffy co-worker who’s always on their best behavior. In fact, your sense of humor is one of the best indicators of your passion about a position.

If the opportunity to demonstrate how passionate you are doesn’t arise naturally during the interview, there’s no harm in directly saying, “I’m really passionate about this position/company because__________ and I think your company/department would benefit from that passion.”

Passion Is A Two-Way Street

People who are looking for a job, especially those in the beginning of their careers, think of interviews as a chance to prove themselves. If they perform well and they’re lucky, they are offered the position as a reward.

But for both the employee and the company to succeed, they must be a good fit which is why experts recommend looking for a job in the same way you’d approach dating. The attraction has to be mutual, or things won’t work in the long run.

It should give you pause if the interviewer seems disengaged, or if the company hasn’t articulated its core values or mission statement. If you don’t get a sense that there’s passion in the air, so to speak, then perhaps the job isn’t right for you.

Workplaces are changing. The gig economy, telecommuting, job hopping, and results-only environments are all sure signs that today’s workforce isn’t your father’s corporate ladder anymore. It makes sense, then, that standard interview questions and answers, and the daily-grind approach to employment aren’t relevant anymore either.

Passion – whether that means bringing a smile to customers’ faces or affecting change in the world – is a key in finding a job that’s right for you, and your employer.

Want to work in life sciences? Find your passion in these positions.