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Your attitude is more valuable than skill

Skill is something you can teach and master quite quickly through repetition. Attitude on the other hand stems from values, belief systems and personal rules. It’s not so easily taught and is really about a persons concrete way of thinking or feeling, typically reflected in their behavior. You may already know the importance of this, but is it part of your character? Most of the time it’s a simple case of having an open mind, taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. A small shift in perspective like this will not only have employers drawn to you, but you will begin to love challenges and have more energy in your approaches. Below are list of characteristics which will empower you to be more employable. 

If you’ve ever been to a third world country, you’ll know what I mean. Someone once told me that “you’re absolute worst nightmare is someone else’s greatest dream”. No matter how bad you’ve got it, a whole lot of people out there have it much much worse. Having an attitude of gratitude has helped me re-focus and re-frame many situations in my career, and my life. 
Early last year, I went to the Philippines on a holiday and paid an equivalent of $5 AUD for a 1 hour back massage. It was the first thing I did when I arrived in a 5-star Hotel in Makati. The Therapist gave me my change and so I tipped about $2 AUD. She then gave it back to me, thinking I didn’t know it was my change. I clarified with her that it was for her because she did a great job. She began to cry and said “thank you” repeatedly about 7 times. She couldn’t believe it. And neither could I.
There are many ways to feel grateful, it’s all around us. You wake up and look in the mirror and are alive for one. You have arms, legs, ears, eyes, fingers, toes, a heart, a brain and all the necessary functions to perform extraordinary things for yourself and others.
So when you do feel a little burdened, on top of life’s obstacles you might not be getting those call backs or finding it difficult to deal with people’s responses. Take a moment to pause and think of the abundance of wealth you already have. I bet you could name ten great things in under 30 seconds.
There’s nothing more appealing for an employer than someone who is willing to learn. Too often I find people being technically competent yet aren’t sociable. Or worse, over confident and cocky causing huge communication barriers. 
Having a hunger for continuous learning works both ways. You become more valuable and in turn are delivering higher standards of work. You’ll also be more approachable and will add to the dynamic culture and morale of the institution you’re in.
If you’re starting your first design job, you will find yourself crossing over to receptionist or personal assistant roles. This might even be how you get your foot in the door to your design job. This is all part of your learning. 
If you need to get coffees, do it. If you need to change light bulbs, do it. If you need to order and stock paper, do it. If you need to start in the mail room, do it. I did, and made 350 friends in the office of the worlds largest advertising networks (Ogilvy). Boy did that pay off in the long term.
  • Analyse and dissect artefacts of what makes good design effective visual communication VS poor design. Once you find these patterns, you can apply these principles to any touchpoint when approaching any brief
  • Observe what the most innovative, strategic, creative, passionate and successful people in the world are doing and have them as your career mentors/role models
  • Sign up/subscribe via email for design blogs to ensure you are receiving a constant flow of inspiration
If you don’t know what to do or find yourself stuck (which will be often when you’re starting off in any work place) then find a way. Ask the question to someone who can give you the right answer, google your queries, post on forums, read relevant books, watch tutorials on YouTube and search on twitter. There is an abundance of free information out there, all you have to do is look.
“Asking quality questions will always give you quality answers”
It’s easy to be passionate about design if you have a deep emotional connection with it. Be passionate but have a plan. It’s not enough to be passionate, Anthony Robbins once said “you can’t travel east looking for a sunset, no matter how hard you try, it’s never going to happen so have a strategy”.
This is where following through comes into play. If you say your “interested” then show interest, if you say you want to know “how” then find out, if you say you’ll “get in touch” then send that email or dial that number. It’s that simple. Actions really do speak louder than words.
Think of it this way, everything you have in you’re life at this very moment, all began with nothing but a thought. Then you took massive action and the necessary steps to reach those goals.

This entertaining typographic video below (By Jacob Gilbreath, LA, California) was a project based on the farewell address of Conan O’Brien’s final episode. It has a great message at the end and definitely worth watching:

For more, pick up a copy of Ram Castillo’s internationally and industry-acclaimed book ‘How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed’.

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Author: Ram Castillo

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About Ram Castillo


Ram is an award winning Design Director, Blogger, top ranking Podcaster, Speaker, Instructor and Author of two internationally acclaimed books 'How to get a job as a designer, guaranteed' and 'How to get a mentor as a designer, guaranteed'. He's based in Sydney, Australia and in 2012, started the blog which helps thousands of design students and graduates be employed. Ram has since been featured in Communication Arts, HOW magazine, Herman Miller, deFrost*, and Apple.

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