Drive“My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general, if you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” – Pablo Picasso

Resumes and online applications do wonders for delineating a skill set or two along with some quality training acquired at a candidate’s last place of employment. Background checks validate their employment history and criminal records. What about passion?

Of course, candidates will always say they are “passionate” and “driven” during interviews. However, because applicants start practicing for their interviews as soon as they apply, you can’t really know how truthful they are until after you’ve hired them. Deloitte found that passionate workers – or “explorers” in the study’s terms – are 17 percent of those in management positions. So, then, how can you look for those candidates who are truly passionate for their job?

Passions in Passionate Candidates

This doesn’t mean candidates should follow their passion in their career, like their mothers told them all of their lives. Sebastian Klein suggests that jobseekers shouldn’t do what they love, but rather learn to love what they do. Following their passions however, can help them land a job. Speaking about their personal passion — be it rockhounding in forest creeks or photography — can shed light on their cultural fit. Considering 43 percent of HR professionals believe cultural fit is one of the most important qualities in a candidate, hiring a well-rounded individual can play a part in the success of a new hire. Well-rounded employees demonstrate leadership potential and an interest in maintaining personal development as well as professional advancement. Shelley Hood, information technology independent consultant, says,

“After many years of leading an entrepreneurial company I was able to witness firsthand the magic of passion. It truly is amazing what people can accomplish when they’re allowed to walk through the door and be themselves: happy; excited; angry or frustrated. Human juices flowing.”

Millennials look for jobs that stimulate their passions, however unrealistic that notion might be. It’s not just millennials, though. Although the feeling of responsibility used to fuel the need for employment, fresh graduates are now more inclined to work for companies that help to fuel their passions in and outside of work. Companies that don’t necessarily inspire employees to follow their personal and professional passions tend to have retention problems. Knowing what is important to your employees will help keep them inspired at work and increase employee engagement.

Passion Doesn’t Fill Gaps

As wonderful as it would be for college students to major in engineering, math, computer science, or any STEM degree, really, that’s just not happening. College students – 37 percent of them – are majoring in liberal arts or education instead. They are following their passions instead of following the job vacancies. This has a major impact on the job market. With the increasing demand for IT specialists, engineers, and the like, candidates who followed their passion instead of getting that technical degree have a harder time landing a job.

Even still, according to the Census Bureau, 74 percent of STEM graduates don’t go into STEM related fields, regardless of the wide variety of job opportunities. The passion for learning skills in these highly specific fields could be the biggest factor in the decreasing number of technical graduates. Cognizant, an IT company, focuses on challenging younger Americans to develop their passion for learning. It’s no accident that the company just so happens to be in the science, technology, engineering, and math field.

Candidates who use their personal passions to fuel their passion for their jobs are the ones who end up being the most successful and have the most opportunities in the workplace. Even though STEM graduates aren’t necessarily going for STEM jobs, they still use their passions to fuel their enthusiasm at work. As Picasso’s mother told him – in not so many words – as long as he was passionate about his profession, he’d go far. He ended up becoming one of the most studied and well-known painters of all time.

How far will your candidates’ passions take them in your company? Are you willing to help them develop personally and professionally?

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