Traditionally the employer has the upper hand. They determine (and hire) who they perceive to be best suited for the position. The night before an interview you spend hours crafting your responses to the age-old interview questions, reading articles like How To Ace The Top 10 Interview Questions and How To Nail A Job Interview In 5 Easy Steps.

To get hired, we typically put the job first, and ourselves second. In our pursuit for acceptance, our values, passion and unique point-of-view often take a backseat.

We give employers the power by focusing solely on their needs and hitting the pause button on our own. The interview process centers on what you can do for the organization. And once you get the job offer, the excitement can minimize, if not entirely block out important personal conflicts.

The Bottom Line: It isn’t just about what you can do for the organization. What the organization can do for YOU is just as important.

It’s a simple question, yet fundamentally changes the way most of us approach the job search. Before you apply to or accept a job, four personal criteria are important to consider: passion, values, career vision and unique value proposition.

The truth of the matter is you are more likely to land (and succeed) in a position that is in alignment with your values, passion and skills. When our own needs take a backseat to the organization we can’t bring forth the best version of ourselves.

In contrast, those that follow their passion and values are able to bring their highest strengths and greatest contributions to the table – effortlessly. At the end of the day isn’t that what we all hope for?


What is your level of passion for the organization’s mission? How would you feel if they offered the job to someone else?

We often underestimate the role passion plays in not only our happiness, but also our ability to excel in an organization or position. Does this company or this job excite you? You aren’t likely to land a job that you aren’t passionate about. A good interviewer will be able to see right through you. So why waste your time?


Are the values of the organization (and team) in alignment with your personal values? Do you see any potential conflicts?

Values are the essence of who we are as human beings. They get us out of bed every morning, determine the company we keep and the relationships we build. Values influence every decision we make and even how we make them. It’s only natural that they should help select the work that we do.

Few of us have taken the time to reflect on our core values. Taking 20-30 minutes to do this is well worth the time. The reality is you could spend a whole day on this, but we are all pressed for time.

Make a list of your 10 core values. These aren’t the values you aspire to; they are the values you currently hold. Take this list and narrow it down to 5, ranking them in order of priority. Finally, craft your own definition for each. This is not the dictionary definition; it’s unique and personal.


How does the position support your overall career vision?

“When we do effective visioning, we’re moving towards a future we want, not just reacting to a present day reality we don’t like.” – Air Weinzweig, Inc. Magazine

Having a clear career vision is critical. If you don’t have a clear picture of your future, you can’t properly evaluate the opportunities in front of you. The key question is whether the opportunity supports your career vision. You have to make incremental progress towards your vision; it doesn’t manifest itself over night.


How can you bring something unique to the position or organization?

Your life experiences, natural talents and skills are unique. The sequence and combination cannot be replicated – by anyone. This gives you a distinct point-of-view and approach to your work.

Your unique value proposition isn’t a generic skill or experience. It is something that only you can bring based on your collective life experiences, natural talents and skills. What do you have to offer than no one else can? Don’t answer superficially – dig deep!


Shifting the focus from the employer to ourselves changes the way we look at job opportunities. By better understanding ourselves we can seek opportunities that leverage our highest strengths, enabling us to be more effective leaders and change agents.

Remember, only YOU have the power to make a personal difference in the world through the work that you choose. Don’t give that power away!

Image Source [Flickr User] CL Group