Monday, April 23, 2007

Follow your Passion to Work - Believing, Thinking, and Speaking Your Truth

When you are looking for the next logical step in your career, either by changing jobs or making a greater impact at your current job, you must follow your passion to work. This means that you must believe in yourself, think about how to tell your story to your employer, and speak your truth.

There are two steps you must take before you can speak comfortably and confidently about your interests and abilities:

1) You have to understand the origin of your passion
2) You must believe in yourself

Generally speaking, step two will take care of itself once you’ve uncovered the secrets of the first step.

Tracing your passion is important because you have to convince an employer that you have logical, compelling reasons to pursue a career (this is particularly important for career-changers and entry-level candidates who, by definition, are pursuing opportunities in which they have no prior employment history). Remember, employers don’t want to feel like they are taking a risk when they make the decision to hire or promote you. That’s why your reasoning has to be sound and believable. If you ever find yourself thinking, “I know I’d be great if only someone would give me a chance,” take it as a sign that you need to do a more thorough self-assessment.

Start by answering these questions:

-How old were you when you first recognized your interest in this career?

-What, specifically, opened your eyes to this opportunity?

-Is there a particular person you admired (e.g., parent, grandparent, mentor, teacher) who served as a role model or otherwise nurtured your interest?

-Is this a subject you studied in school?

-What have you done on your own initiative to learn more about the field?

The last question is especially important because relatively few people think to sell themselves on the experiences they’ve gained as a result of their own initiative. However, from a potential employer’s standpoint, these experiences tend to be the most convincing. Think about it. If you read and studied numerous books on your own, you obviously have more than a passing interest in the subject matter. This usually gives people more than enough reason to believe your interest and sincerity.

If you’ve already begun to develop a track record in your industry (i.e., you have some work experience or a history of success), employers are less likely to feel like they are taking a risk in hiring or promoting you. After all, if you have experience, you probably know enough about the business to know what you are getting into at the next level. Regardless, it’s still important to trace your passion because this understanding will help you communicate your enthusiasm for the career.