May 6, 2011 | Sustainability + Energy, Workplace Culture + Practices

One might think that recruiting the best and the brightest during tough economic times would be an easy task – high unemployment means plenty of well-qualified people looking for meaningful work. In my experience, though, no matter what the economic climate, recruitment is challenging. It’s truly a study in human psychology. I’ve been on both sides of the recruitment table many times, and I still can’t quite put my finger on the key to success – the golden path to getting hired for the job that’s a perfect match.

What Companies Look For

The New York Times runs a Sunday column called “The Corner Office” in which Adam Bryant interviews top CEOs on topics such as recruitment and retention. Usually, the questions posed include “what do you look for in a resume?” and “what are your favorite interview questions?” According to many of these CEOs, the key to landing a job is attitude, drive, humility, and honesty. They also cite what I think is perhaps the most important factor: passion.

I looked up the word “passion” in Webster’s Dictionary and parts of the definition refer to religion, lust and powerful emotions. I’d certainly get into hot water if I asked about religion or lust (in spite of what you may have learned from Michael Scott on The Office, we HR folks try to avoid any mention of these hot button issues) but in the world of recruitment, we often look for the emotional side of passion. Passion in the workplace drives employees who know what they want and will work hard to attain it. Passionate employees are charismatic, productive, and some of our best change agents. They influence others in positive ways . E.M. Forster said that “one person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested.”

The Wind Energy Industry

In the wind energy industry, economics and policy may drive installed capacity, but it’s passion that is motivating people to jump into this industry with two feet. Environmentally-conscious Millennials are looking ahead and seeing a planet in trouble; Baby Boomers reflect on their past and wonder if they have truly made a difference for the next generation. The industry is ripe for dynamic individuals who care about the environment and energy issues. I contend, in fact, that this industry has energized the workplace, where employees feel good about going to work and, at the end of the day, they feel they have made a contribution to future generations. In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that “renewable energy is a key piece of the ’green economy’ and wind power, which supplies thousands of jobs in the United States, is the fastest growing sector in renewable energy.”


What a great recipe for an American success story – stimulating the economy with new jobs that matter, where employees can’t wait to go to work in the morning, and passionately convey the ways in which they are making a difference in our world. I read thousands of cover letters and resumes every year for jobs in our company. Now, I recruit for passion. Admittedly, recruitment is still challenging, but the rewards are fantastic when you match a company in renewable energy and an individual with passion in their belly.

Anna Grady is the manager of human resources at NRG Systems.