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Love Your Life, Do Your Job

Somyot Techapuwapat ©

Over the past few months I have spoken to a number of recent graduates about their future career plans and many of them tell me they cannot wait to forge ahead, discover their passions and follow their dreams.

This is an admirable goal, for sure, but unfortunately, what I have found is that following that advice can be a hindrance to your ability to find a job in the loyalty-free workplace.

Now before you start to tell me I am wrong, let me make an important distinction: A job is an incrediblypowerful tool that can help us realize our dreams. Our jobs allow us to make money, which we can use to follow our passions, pursue our dreams, and celebrate the things we love. In other words, our jobs and our dreams are not one and the same—and yet, far too often, we ignore this reality and try to combine the two.

In the loyalty-free workplace, where companies are fixated on finding candidates with the prefect “Cinderella fit,” you need to separate your passion from your employment to land the job. There are many practical reasons why. For one, finding work in today’s economy is hard enough as it is. Why make it harder on yourself by creating unnecessary obstacles? Yet, if you limit your job search to what you’re passionate about, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Besides, let’s look at the bigger question: Do you know many people who really love their jobs? OK, maybe you have a few friends who love the industry in which they work (or, at least, love talking about the fact they work in a particular industry). And if you’re like most people, you probably enjoy some of what you do at work, and you like enough of your colleagues to consider them friends or even extended members of your family.

But, when you get down to it, if we really loved everything about our jobs why do we call it work? After all, if you love your job, there is nothing you would rather do, and no place you would rather be. But I have had mornings where the last thing I wanted to do was get up and go to work (and I am sure you have, too). And for all the things we like about our job, there are aspects of it that we would rather not do, and colleagues we could do without seeing.

This is not to suggest that, deep down, we all really hate our jobs. Our jobs are important because they are a means to an end. But they are not, in fact, the end. While some people may love what they do for a living, the vast majority of us will never work in jobs for which we have an intense passion, and from which we achieve great joy and satisfaction. That being the case, it makes very little sense to dedicate so much time, energy, and resources to reaching a goal that likely will never materialize. Instead, we are better off looking for positions that match our skills, so that we can obtain the means to enjoy the things that we are passionate about.

Look at it this way. The problem with limiting a job search to jobs that we feel passionate about is that, oftentimes, we do not really know what we might enjoy until we immerse ourselves in it. Not only that, but even if we know what we’re passionate about now, how do we know that our passions won’t change over time?

You may have a passion for watching movies, but are you willing to spend sixty hours a week working with challenging personalities, while developing a skin thick enough to deflect the comments of studio executives who think your clients should accept significant pay cuts because they earn too much money?

To be honest, working in the business might even ruin your passion for films. There are many retired employees who were once passionate about their jobs—only to never drive a car manufactured by the company from which they just retired, buy a pharmaceutical from the company where they spent the last thirty years working, nor eat at the restaurant that they spent the prior twenty years managing.

Now let’s say you have listened to all the arguments and still decide that you will target only those positions that line up with your “dream job.” Even so, there are practical reasons why you should discuss your passion only as it relates to the skills required for the position for which you are interviewing. Why? First, and foremost, despite all your enthusiasm, you passion may prevent you from landing the offer. In some cases a potential employer may view your passion as something that might interfere with your success. After all, how confident will a prospective employer be that you will aggressively negotiate the terms of an agreement with the representatives of a famous sports player if you previously informed him the player was one of your childhood idols? Instead, if you minimized your passion and focused instead on his skills and knowledge of sports business in general, you would have been more likely to land this “dream job.”

Finally, no matter how much you love sports, toys, music, or whatever drives your passion, you cannot lose sight of the fact that, like everyone else in the loyalty-free workplace, you work for money. If you tell a hiring manager how excited you are to work in their field, he can use your passion against you by offering you a starting salary that is below what the employer originally intended to offer. Many employers bank on the fact that there are candidates who will work for less money because of their passion for the job. This is particularly true when it comes to jobs in television and other so-called “dream professions” in the entertainment industry. Employers know that, because many candidates who work in these industries are doing something they love, they are also more willing to work longer hours and take on additional responsibilities without additional compensation.

If this cultural shift seems daunting to you, it really shouldn’t. Keep in mind this is not an article about abandoning your passion. Far from it. Our passions and dreams give us the pleasure and flavor that continue to enrich our lives. I want you to aggressively pursue your passions, and finding a job that will provide you with the financial means to do so is the best way to accomplish this result.

I return to my original distinction: Our jobs are the engines that can drive us to our dreams. The hiring manager—and eventually the person who will become your boss—have the ultimate control over your job. When you equate your job with your dreams and your passions, you are handing someone else the keys to your car. Why would you want to do that?

In the loyalty-free workplace, we have to find out how much companies are willing to pay us to provide the services they want. Each day we cash our paychecks, and then we can fund whatever it is we love. This is something we can truly be passionate about.

Remember you only need one offer to turn things around.  

Best of luck in your search, I know you can do it!


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