“We desire your undivided passion. We want all of your focus. We expect you to give everything for the role and for our business.”
This is from an actual job advertisement I came across recently.
I was looking for part-time work to fit in alongside my existing projects, and it felt as if every other advert requested I include my eternal soul alongside my resumé in the application.
My frustration grew. I had time and skills I was keen to offer, but I wanted to find somewhere which would support me as a whole person. And I found myself wondering… who—multipotentialite or not—is even capable of what they’re asking for?
The closest I ever get to giving undivided, unquestioning passion to anything is when I’m cheering on the objectively-greatest sports team in the world. But even that only lasts for 90 minutes at a time. Deep down, I’m aware that the rest of my life is also important and worthy of my energy.
In all of human experience, does anything ever receive total passion, focus and time? So why is “we expect you to give everything” considered a reasonable request for a job?!
What is a job for?
Recently I’ve seen multiple variations of the same joke on social media:
“Why do you want this job?”
“I need money to pay for food for my family.”
We’re so conditioned into pretending jobs are more than this that the mere idea of somebody being truthful is considered hilariously shocking.
Of course, some jobs are passionate vocations. But many jobs, for many people, are a means to an end. People want to trade away their time and skills in return for some money.
And what could be fairer than that?
Of course, from the point of view of employers, demanding an employee’s “full attention” makes perfect sense.
The ideal employee would be born with the company logo carved into their heart, with a correspondingly deep passion for earning money for the business.
This incentivizes the company to filter out the least passionate employees, which in turn incentivizes prospective workers to pretend their “mild interest in this area” is “wild passion for supply chain integration.” While this state of affairs is logical, it creates a system which feels inhuman.
Presumably, most companies know this. They realize nobody is born with a desperate need to synergize accounting practices across legislative divides, and they don’t literally mean it when they ask for “undivided” passion in their advertisements.
In other words, while an advert might say “we demand your all,” that may just be marketing speak for “we expect you to do a great job”—which is absolutely reasonable and fair.
This charade is partly a societal game we play to be polite, like pretending nobody actually wants the last chocolate in the box.
Which suggests a question… can’t we all simply be honest with each other? And I believe the answer is “yes.”
It’s all a spectrum
Some employers are against passion projects, and they mean every word they say. (I saw an advert which literally said “we love passion, but if you have other projects in your life, this job isn’t for you.” Yikes.)
It’s up to you whether that sounds like a great deal.
Some employers say “we want your eternal soul” in their ads, but they mean “do a great job and obviously we’re all human here, so we’ll cut you some slack”.
It’s up to you whether that sounds like a great deal—or whether you can only work for people who say exactly what they mean. This is difficult to determine from outside, but during the application and interview process you can hopefully get a sense of the company culture.
You might look for clues that they’re pro-side-hustle, or that they see passion projects as part of the package. Some employers are happy to support your other interests, and they make this clear from their job advertisements onward. In the past I’ve been lucky with my employers, as they happened to fall into this category. But next time I look for jobs, I’ll seek confirmation that the company see employees with outside passions as an advantage, not a detriment.
Questions to explore for a happy job hunt
If you know in advance what you’re willing to sacrifice for the right job, then you’ll know immediately when you come across the wrong job. These questions might help you recognize the potential dream jobs amidst the soul-swallowing blunders:
1. Do you want to devote yourself to a job? This is a perfectly reasonable desire—even some multipods enjoy all-consuming jobs, and happily pursue other interests during free time.
2. What level of support for your outside passions and interests do you want—or could tolerate—from an employer? Active support? Complete disinterest? Direct hostility?
3. What would it take for you to give up another passion for a job if requested? For example:
- Tons of money?
- Travel options?
- And so on…
4. Would it be okay if a new job demanded all your time and energy for a week? A month? A year? A decade?
These answers have been different for me at different times of my life. I know I prefer employers who encourage outside interests—but there are jobs for which I would happily give up my other passions—at least for a while.
If you’re looking for work, I hope these thoughts help you to find a fantastic job which meets all your needs. And, certainly, one which allows you to keep your soul.
Do your employers support your other passions? Or have you ever encouraged them to do so? Share your thoughts and stories with the community in the comments.
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