In this article for The Sydney Morning Herald, Michelle explains why your career should tap into your passion.
Finding a job you’re passionate about might sound like a cliché, but it could turn out to be a savvy career move, with a survey* by employment marketplace SEEK revealing that a candidate’s enthusiasm may be more valuable to employers than their hard skills.
Sixty-eight per cent of hirers say they are likely to employ someone who is passionate about the role but has limited experience, over a candidate who has strong experience but lacks passion.
For employers, passion is an attractive attribute in a potential employee because it translates to what’s known as intrinsic motivation, explains workplace expert Michelle Gibbings, author of Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate Your Career.
“People who are intrinsically motivated are far more likely to get up, find things that need to get done and get them done without needing a lot of external factors to be motivated,” says Gibbings.
For employees, feeling passionate about work often equals increased job satisfaction and strong performance.
“Tapping into your passion means you’re more likely to commit when the going gets tough, allowing creativity to flow, and leaving us feeling more fulfilled and energised,” says SEEK’s resident psychologist Sabina Read.
If you don’t already have a vocation, uncovering your passion and translating it into a workplace context may feel overwhelming. So, Read suggests you start by looking for patterns in the life or work experiences you’ve felt passionate about.
“A great question to ask yourself is, ‘What would you choose to do with your time if earning an income was irrelevant?’ And, ‘What are you doing when time just passes you by because you’re so fully immersed in the task?’ Answering these questions can help to identify your passions,” she adds.
Once you start to understand what it is that sparks joy for you, dig a little deeper to ensure your passion is sustainable, advises Gibbings.
“It’s really important to understand what your purpose is – why you do what you do and where you want to go with it – because when finding your passion becomes the over-arching goal it can lead to decisions that don’t help you in the long run, as you flit from dream to dream, passion to passion,” she explains.
“However, when you put your ‘why’ at the centre of your decision-making you are considering your career choices as part of your whole life, including family, health and happiness, spiritual fulfillment, community contribution and personal and lifestyle goals.”
The next step is to make a connection between your passion and real job opportunities. One way to do this is to try lots of different things, according to Gibbings.
“Be willing to experiment with options. Volunteer and get involved in different activities, and constantly seek new learning,” she advises.
The complete package
Of course, passion isn’t the only unique selling point that will impress recruiters. Previous experience and technical or industry-specific skills are still important, but being able to clearly demonstrate your passion for the role – and how it will benefit the employer – can give you an edge in the recruitment process.
“It’s particularly important to convey how your passion translates to aspects of the role you’re applying for,” notes Read.
“Sometimes this is obvious, sometimes it requires some creative thinking. Back yourself – you may have some fresh perspectives which an employer is yet to recognise.”
If following your passion means segueing into another industry, don’t assume that you’re starting from scratch. Focus on your transferable skills – these could include your ability to communicate effectively, to problem-solve, analyse data or lead teams.
“Make a list of all the skills you have accumulated over your life – from jobs, volunteer gigs, parenting and extracurricular activities,” says Read.
“If you’re passionate about impacting the lives of others, then think laterally about how your skillset can translate to that end goal.”
This is what Gibbings calls a “career toolkit stocktake”, adding that you’re likely to uncover some adaptable skills as well – that is, skills that are usable in another industry once they’ve been modified in some way.
Whatever your career goals, honing in on passion is a smart strategy, says Read. “We all need passion to create a life worth living and to do work that feels aligned to who we are.”
*Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4800 Australians annually.