[How We Hire] Skills come second to heart at H.I.S. BridgeBuilders

Written by: Marc Schultz
Published on: May 6, 2016

Sarah Conner, PHR, has been at BridgeBuilders for more than 7 years, and currently serves as Vice President, Programs and Human Resources. She took time recently to speak with us from her West Dallas office about working at and hiring for the urban service ministry.

Sarah Conner 1

My elevator pitch for potential hires: We are trying to fight poverty in the city of Dallas in a new way, with a holistic approach, and we can see poverty being cured in a generation. It’s an exciting time, to be engaged with the city on these issues and serve as the thought leaders for poverty alleviation in Dallas.

Skill set vs. culture fit: Definitely culture fit. By the nature of what we do, ours is a very flexible work environment, where you could end up wearing any number of hats. If you can’t adjust to our entrepreneurial environment, you’ll be left behind. We often hire from the community we serve, and skills always come second to heart.

My interview pet peeve: It makes me crazy when people don’t give me enough information. If you’re in a job interview, you shouldn’t make it like pulling teeth to get an answer. I also dislike mean people – call me idealistic, but I appreciate a candidate who is kind, friendly, and has manners.

What catches my attention: If an interviewee’s demeanor changes based on who they’re talking to – if they act differently with the CEO than they do with a facility manager or a client – that’s a red flag for me. In our organization, you have to be able to engage honestly with people from all kinds of different cultures.

Sarah Conner 2

What people love about working here: They love the atmosphere: We hang out a lot, on the job and off. They also love the support they’re given, and their ability to grow in the organization. (And I know this because I polled them!)

As for myself, it’s the people I get to work with: we’re a family. It’s the nature of the work, poverty alleviation, that we get joy every day from working with clients.

What newcomers first notice: The welcoming environment. Our offices are in an old housing authority building that we’ve refurbished, so it looks like an industrial warehouse from the outside. People aren’t always ready for what they walk into.

Something special we do to support employees: We’ve got a high level of workday flexibility, which helps many employees, like those who might be single parents. And, as a Christian ministry, we have a morning prayer meeting every Monday where we share prayer requests, and we pray for each other on those mornings and through the week.


HIS BridgeBuilders logo [square]H.I.S. BridgeBuilders is a 50-person organization working to alleviate poverty in Dallas and replace it with flourishing communities. Their work includes a full suite of family-support programs, from education to finances to home improvement, as well as an award-winning urban farm providing jobs and healthy food for the underserved suburb of Bonton. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo.