Stop the Revolving Door: How Passion Hires Help You

Sometimes the most unlikely people make the best hires. There’s a developing trend of businesses choosing talent based on skill sets and passion, not necessarily a resume padded with “the right” experience.

Why Seek Passion Above Experience?
According to a recent article in Talent Management Magazine, passion trumps experience because it spurs innovation and creative solutions to challenges internally and externally in the business.

How to Hire Passion Without Getting Burned
Experience does count for something. That’s why it’s important to introduce a passionate and skill-driven hire slowly within the company.

Start the person off in a relatively low-risk role, such as an intern, assistant or any other role where they can both grow without threatening the success of your business.

A key example: A hiring manager was at checkout in her local grocery. When the cashier saw her t-shirt with her company logo he launched into this passionate diatribe about her industry (video games) and how he’s working at the grocery store to fund doing what he loves best.

The CHRO Sherry Whitely, who at the time worked for the video game company Activision, hired him and,

  • gave him access to her creative staff, allowing him to submit ideas and test them out.
  • paid him modestly, at first, for his contributions to problem solving.
  • had him fill out a talent profile, listing out more of his goals and aspirations and interests outside of his main passion.

Another benefit of passion-based hiring is that ego, titles and other career-padding activities take a backseat to innovation, creative problem solving and a sense of community within the organization.

The young man rose within the company because of his accumulated experience within the nurturing structure of the organization. It’s hard to be hired away to another company when your existing firm has nurtured your skills, talent and allowed you to unleash your passions for the benefit of the company. Is there anything more fulfilling for an employee?

In fact, passion-hires don’t think of themselves as employees but rather team members and problem solvers.

A few tips on identifying potential passion hires
The group called millennials are perfect fodder for this type of hiring. They haven’t been in a corporate environment that tends to dash their dreams or lock them into one career path.

They’re still optimistic their ideas can make a difference. They’re also “digital natives,” solving problems through online research within minutes rather than days.

But passion hires are by no means only young, bright-eyed kids. You can find innovative and passionate people all around you, even within your own organization. All it takes to identify them is evaluating based on passion and skills first and experience second.

A few more benefits to passion-based hiring

  • keeping institutional knowledge – This is an intangible that many employees take with they leave a company. No exit interview can pull that valuable information out of an employee.
  • dedication – Passionate employees aren’t clock watchers. When their work is soul nurturing, they stay until the problem is solved or until the challenge is no longer challenging.
  • solutions focused not blame focused – Passion hires can have tunnel vision in terms of problem solving. When someone drops the ball, which happens to us all from time to time, passion hires won’t instantly look to pass along blame, ignoring the solutions right within the very team that missed the mark.


Caution: Be careful not to give passion hires the keys to the kingdom instantly. They need to grow within the organization and prove themselves by creating positive results for your company.

This helps existing employees to accept and then support the ascension of such hires, and actually participate in their growth and success.

This may sound utopian, but many firms have achieved great results when switching focus from experience and impressive schools to passion-focused hiring.

(Source: Talent Management Magazine, April 2013)

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