Oh, so you’re passionate about it?

Potato has received tens of thousands of job applications, and I’ve certainly looked at thousands myself.

Having spotted a trend that annoyed me I fired off this tweet, which a few people disagreed with.

The problems using the word ‘passionate’ to describe yourself are multiple.

Suggested listening from @bruised_blood

It’s intangible

The first is that being passionate about something is hugely intangible, especially in relation to a job. What’s the benefit to the role? Very unclear. Some could argue that over-enthusiasm combined with a lack of knowledge could even be detrimental to an employee’s work.

It’s boring

It’s often stated in a job application that the applicant is passionate about some portion of tech, or process.

I sometimes talk about a scale of how someone can prove their worth with a particular subject matter.

  1. Say you know something. E.g. I know JavaScript
  2. Say you know something, and what you did with that thing. E.g. I know JavaScript and wrote a shopping cart
  3. Say you know something, what you did with it, and the impact it had. E.g. I increased sales by 5% rewriting a shopping cart in JavaScript

Using the fact that you are ‘passionate’ to describe your skills sits at around zero or 0.5 on this list.

It’s overused

And not just in job applications. Company pitches often start with an entrepreneur stating that they are passionate about the area the business is in. Well, yeah, you started a business in that sector or fixing a problem you see. Thanks for the filler where you could have said something useful!

I’d go so far to say that the use of the word ‘passionate’ has the opposite effect to the one intended. It’s vapid.