Job Ad Red Flags: “Passion”

There’s no doubt that people who enjoy a pursuit will generally get better at it than people who don’t. And there’s no doubt that people looking to hire employees prefer to hire ones who will take the work seriously and care about the quality of their work.

Unfortunately, it’s become all too common to abuse the idea of “passion” in recruiting efforts.

Rejected. No passion.

There is a certain kind of hiring manager who screens for people (often young, inexperienced people) who are willing to burn themselves out for the benefit of a company.

As Hacker News commenter s73ver puts it:

In job adverts, "passion" is often shorthand for "willing to work unpaid overtime."

Avdi Grimm has this to say, in his classic post on the subject of passion…

If what you really mean is “we seek people who are enthusiastic about programming”, say so. But consider why you are saying so. Is it because you want people who will do a good job because they care? Or is it because you expect the long hours to be their own reward?

No product or company deserves your passion. You can choose to throw your passion into anything you want, but no project inherently deserves it. ... What you are passionate for is something deeply personal, and it should flow from your most closely-held values.

I think ultimately, it’s just important to always remember that humans are not obligated to sacrifice their personal lives and happiness for the good of a company. Any job where you’re made to feel that, as a matter of course, your obligation as a person is first to the company, and then to yourself, is probably a job you should leave (or never apply in the first place).


Avdi Grimm said...

Thanks for the quote! Of course, I agree wholeheartedly...

Matt Blodgett said...

Thanks for stopping by, Avdi! I wish every young software developer would read your "Passion Gospel" post.