I am passionate about many things — my wife, our kids, the U.S. Marine Corps, the defense of our country’s hard-won freedoms, and lazy Saturday mornings watching cartoons or the ocean waves with my family, to name a few. I also love several things about my career — specifically, building and improving systems, processes and people. In fact, I’ve been complimented by conference hosts, interviewers, clients and my employers that my passion for my work is “refreshing.” Today I want to discuss why it is important to be passionate about your career, especially for those of us in a job search. I also want to share how I found my career passion, and hope that this can help you identify yours.
I know I haven’t posted to this blog in a while. I spent the past several weeks helping others in their job search as part of the nonprofit organization, JobAngels, and on my own job search. I’ll update you on my progress soon, but today I want to write about career passion.
Passion for your work (or, if you’re in transition, for your job search) is critical for three primary reasons. First, employers want passionate employees who are excited about their projects and their organizations.
“People want to be around positive, engaging people who might make you laugh, have the guts to ask questions and the guts to demonstrate that they are aware of your world,” says Molly Fletcher, author of Your Dream Job Game Plan. “And, most certainly, people want to hire people who are eager to work hard, embrace each and every opportunity and moment.…”
Indeed, employers would rather hire a candidate who is passionate about his or her work than someone with all the required experience, says Paul Megan, a manager for EEI and an author on job search strategies. Paul adds that employers identify passionate candidates as those job seekers who take the time to learn about a prospective employer and hiring manager’s goals and passions and who comes forward with specific ideas on how he or she can make a difference inside the organization.
The second reason finding your passion is critical to your career is because we have all learned that every job is temporary. I know individuals that were absolutely critical to a firm’s bottom-line and yet were laid off. At my brother-in-law’s firm, they had to lay off 20-year veterans — employees with in-depth knowledge of the equipment and processes the firm relied on in order to keep the company lucrative. You can still get laid off from a job that you are passionate about. After all, jobs and companies come and go. But if you are passionate about something, you will find a way to stay involved. And as the saying goes, “Do the work that you love, and the money will follow.”
The final reason why passion is important is because we all deserve to do work in a career that we enjoy, if not outright love. We can no longer depend on our employers to find meaningful tasks and exciting opportunities for us. Rather, it is up to each of us to find where our passion lies, and then actively pursue opportunities that will pay us for what we love to do, according to Megan Guiseppi, author of the Executive Resume Branding Blog.
Finding Your Career Passion
One of the ways you can tell if you’re passionate about something is if you actively look for all opportunities to learn more about that something and if you drop your natural self-consciousness to ask others for their advice on the subject.
Another way to zero in on your passion is to consider how frequently it occupies your mind and even intrudes on other aspects of your life and your time! Everyone has something they do that they look forward to doing without any hesitation or procrastination. It makes them smile. For me, it’s reading. While my favorite genre is science fiction, I have always enjoyed reading across subjects, and I frequently pick up books, magazines and articles from hard science to cooking and from architecture to psychology just because I love to read and learn.
Finally, a fun way to help point the way to what your passions may be would be to find a copy of your resume that you are most proud of. It needs to be a few pages long for this to work best. Copy it into the online tool, Wordle which creates a “cloud tag”-like visual representation of the key words used. Those words that Wordle displays as used most frequently may just be related to your passions.
How I Found My Career Passion
For many years I’ve been a subject matter expert on data warehousing, CRM (customer relationship management) and BI (business intelligence) systems. I’ve developed and integrated these applications around the world for over fifteen years. I’ve trained and mentored others, and written about and presented best practices for deploying and managing these systems at conferences for years. Many people through the years have commented about my obvious passion for these technologies.
And yet, I’ve realized that looking back on my entire career, I am far more passionate about developing and improving the processes and applications, and the people that deliver them, than in the technologies themselves.
For example, during my first year as a programmer, my passion for process improvement led me to create a conversion program on my own time that helped me eliminate my employer’s last remaining library of legacy source code. [My conversion program allowed me to eliminate the maintenance of that old code, and my extra work enabled me to move on to better projects. As they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions!]
My managers and mentors through the years have encouraged my passion, as well. This has allowed me to be trained in and utilize many of the leading process improvement methodologies: Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Design For Six Sigma (DFSS), Kaizen, Kanban, Total Quality Management (TQM), Business Process Improvement (BPI/BPM/BPR), Change Acceleration Process (CAP), and several others. I’ve then taken what I’ve learned and applied through experience, and have mentored numerous teams and projects since then.
I have to admit that I’ve been lucky. I was able to grow in my career, moving from technology that excited me to exploring and finally realizing my passion!
Many people have never considered what it would be like to be passionate about their work. It’s not always easy, and for some people, it is an uncomfortable process to work through. But it is always exciting when you finally realize what turns you on professionally! And even more so if you can then find appropriate work related to your passion!
What makes your eyes light up and has you want to jump up and find time to do it now? And of course, now that you are starting to get excited about your passion, what are you going to do about it?!
The funny thing about finding and following your passion is that you don’t always know where it will take you! Mark Cummuta
CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle