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06/04/2013

What should you follow in selecting a career? Passion or money?

1. Needing the work vs. being passionate about it
Q. Would you rather (all else being equal) hire someone who NEEDS the job or someone who doesn’t need any job, but is passionate enough about the job to want to do it anyway?
To clarify (if necessary), say you have narrowed a selection down to two candidates. One doesn’t need to work but loves the industry, the work, etc. The other person needs to work and is just as qualified, but maybe not as passionate. Or does this matter at all?

A. If everything else is truly equal — skills, experience, accomplishments, intelligence, people skills, and culture fit — then I’ll go for the candidate who’s more passionate about the work. That person is more likely to be engaged in the work, to go all out to get more done, and to think creatively about the work than someone who just needs a job. Plus, the person who’s less passionate about the work is more likely to leave
when something that interests them more comes along. These are obviously wild generalizations, but hey, I’m responding to a hypothetical about two totally equal candidates, which rarely happens in practice.

Side note: It’s worth mentioning that passion on its own isn’t a qualification and should never be viewed as a substitute for talent; it’s only valuable when it’s attached to the skills to do the job well.

2. Asking for feedback on interview skills after being rejected
Q. I’m currently applying for jobs and I went to an interview recently that I felt went quite well. While I did not receive a call back from the employer, I was wondering if it was polite to ask for a critique of my interviewing skills or whether to bite my tongue?
A. Don’t ask for a critique of your interviewing skills; that’s not an employer’s job. They’re not job coaches, after all. However, you can certainly ask for feedback on your candidacy overall — that’s different.


3. Mentioning religious motivation for applying for a job
Q. I’m a recent graduate looking for a part-time position (I already have a great part-time gig, and am looking to supplement my hours a bit). I’m looking specifically in the NGO realm, because my religious beliefs motivate me to do social good not only in my private life, but my professional life as well. (I’m a member of the Religious Society of Friends, a.k.a. Quakers. A religious affiliation chosen in adult life, not one I was raised with.) However, I am afraid I am overqualified for many positions I’ve found, as I have a Bachelor’s degree (in a hard science).
My question is this: should I mention my religious affiliation as a motivator for seeking socially-laudable-but-low-paying work in my cover letters, or should I just skip it, so as not to overshare with potential employers?

A. Don’t mention your religion to employers. It’s too much a violation of workplace norms and will make employers uncomfortable (since it’s illegal for them to take your religion into account when making hiring decisions). However, you can certainly explain that your personal ethics and worldview emphasize charitable work, and that you’re strongly committed to working for social good.

These Career questions and answers have been adapted from Ask a Manager blog.

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