Sure you qualify, but are you passionate about the work? Does the mission of the organization or institution resonate with your innermost being? Is your organization hiring talent that champions your mission?
Now, don’t be turned off by the word passion. Hear me out. Get the images of Fabio and trashy romance novels out of your head. Now, think about what is meaningful to you. Think about what you will be proud of accomplishing at the end of the day. Passion is a vital force driving the education industry but it's not something we openly recruit or hire for. We emphasize skill, background and training (all critical aspects, of course), but there is a lot more to consider.
The scope of work for education professionals and leaders has grown significantly more complex with dramatic shifts that emphasize skills like autonomy, creativity, relationship management and critical thinking to address major, multi-dimensional problems. Because education is changing, so is the work of delivering the systems, resources, and talent needed to educate the next generation of leaders. So, getting back to your passion. What does this mean for prospective hires and for hiring managers looking to identify new talent?
Alignment of Mission with your Core Values
These are questions I ask myself both when seeking new opportunities and when acting as a hiring manager. I love to ask candidates to reflect on the mission of the organization I represent and explain why it is important. "What resonates with you?" This can sometimes be more important than the skills they bring to the table because someone who believes in their work whole-heartedly will bring a level of passion and engagement that can serve as a pillar of the organization.
As a job seeker, you need to carefully assess how aligned an organization’s mission is with your own. You are looking to establish a long-term partnership that will enable you to grow and develop as a professional, and you should also be looking for an organization that closely aligns with your personal values, as this is what will propel you forward to do what it takes to accomplish your vision. It’s this alignment that will ignite your creativity and energize you to push forward against the odds. (Cue the midnight oil analogy.)
Yes, you are qualified, but…
This section is primarily for hiring managers, although it's certainly useful for job seekers too. Having the right set of qualifications and relevant background is vital to ensuring the right fit for the role. However, don’t become fixated with fancy qualifications and credentials (I’m speaking with you, Harvard) without considering the whole package. Think about the skills that can be developed and those that are fundamental to the successful performance of a role. The right job description and recruitment campaign can generate a strong pool of potential hires, but what will set the best candidates apart? Here is where your organization’s culture, mission and values come into play. I argue that the candidates who possess strong personal convictions and the vision to think beyond what is needed are the ones who rise to the top – not just during the interview, but well beyond - ensuring strong impact and results.
Bringing it together, why passion matters
I’ve worked in the education sector for almost 12 years in non-profits, private agencies, and with various school districts. The higher up the rungs I go, the more complex and ambiguous I've found the work becomes. I (and my colleagues) work very hard, we work long hours, and we have to define strategies and find solutions to increasingly complex and multi-faceted problems. The urgency of improving educational outcomes for our neediest students is staggering, no matter where in the country you work. As a child of immigrant parents, education is fundamentally tied to my core personal values and it is this passion (not necessarily my morning coffee) that fuels me to continue working hard every day. I am devoted to improving educational outcomes for children, and my contribution to this vision is finding excellent educators and leaders to lead schools and classrooms.
Here’s to finding your passion!