Why Attitude and Values Matter When Hiring

by Jen Weissman, Founder + President

One of my passions in life is giving back to my community. To borrow Rotary International’s motto, Service above Self, I am most fulfilled when mentoring students, volunteering as an art instructor, or serving on local boards.

This morning I attended a meeting at Palomar College, where I serve as Multimedia & Web Advisory Board Member for the Graphic Communications Department. My role as an advisor is to ensure that the college is teaching the most current and relevant skills to their students, ie: is Dreamweaver still used in the “real world”? NO. Should we offer a UI/UX class? YES. I love making an impact in big and small ways.

One of my favorite roles is as mentor—and as a small business owner and brand agency leader, students often ask me for career advice, “Jen, what can I do to stand out? How can I make my portfolio better?”

The key isn’t an amazing portfolio (although that doesn’t hurt!), the real selling point is your personality and your ability to relate to other people.

Community Service

Community service provides the opportunity to build confidence and develop relationships. Even as a young adult you can get involved in organizations and events that mean something to you and help others. The advisory board I’m on is comprised of an amazing group of marketing professionals that work for companies like Apple, Active Network, Trina Turk, and MTV. Never heard of those companies? Ha! Me neither. The truth is, we don’t all come from world known agencies and organizations, but we  all possess the skills and passion to work together for a common goal. Funny, sounds a lot like a successful agency team. 

Soft Skills

This thought came full circle in a discussion this morning on HIRING. It was unanimous in our group that soft skills are actually the most important aspect we look for when hiring, yet this is rarely addressed in the classroom. Of course a student’s portfolio needs to be strong – and yes, your personal brand needs to be well thought out (stand for something!). But everyone in the room agreed that we want to hire people who are optimistic, problem solvers, demonstrate a strong work ethic, utilize common sense, work well in a team, and…wait for it… have good hygiene (a funny, but oh so true quality). We are all looking for emotional intelligence in addition to your kick-ass occupational skills.


This led us to a discussion on RELATIONSHIP BUILDING and COMMUNICATION. In our fast paced, technology-focused and wired-in society it’s important to make true connections with people. It really is all about relationships! I know that texting or emailing instead of picking up the phone is way easier than engaging in a conversation or having to play phone tag. In fact – meeting someone face-to-face may be the best way to make an impression, but it can be challenging for students to know how to “network” and have the confidence to approach a potential employer. However, we all agreed that we are much more likely to take a candidate seriously if we’ve had the opportunity to meet them or at the very least, talk to them on the phone. Networking, and the ability to communicate face to face are soft skills that would do wonders for many young people and eager job seekers.

My advice to anyone that is looking to enter the job force is to make sure that you have the skills necessary to perform the job at hand but above all else – demonstrate the qualities that make you a great employee and team member. Show us your passion and dedication for the position. At the end of the day we all want to like, trust and connect with the people we work with. Hey – that sounds like what strong brands do, too. Building trust is key to building a strong brand.

Good luck out there!