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Building and Protecting Your Reputation

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As my friend and trusted business advisor Denny Basham of Subsilio Consulting says, “Reputation matters.”  Never has this been truer in business than it is today.  With Google at everyone’s fingertips and reviews available for everything under the sun, both the business owner and the job seeker need to be very conscious of what their reputation is.

 

Why does reputation matter?

In today’s marketplace, it’s very easy to find out a lot of information about individuals as well as businesses.  For job seekers, this equates the need to build positive, online reviews – just like a proactive reputation marketing campaign is important to a business.  One place we see this is on LinkedIn.

It is now standard practice for recruiters and managers to check out a candidate’s LinkedIn profile before offering them an interview.  Some of the main things they are looking for are the Recommendations, the size of the candidate’s network, the Endorsements, and his or her Groups.  All of this additional information gives insight into the candidate beyond just the resume.  Of these, the written Recommendations matter the most.  Endorsements for skills may be valuable key words, but when one of your connections actually writes a paragraph or two about your work, the recruiters will take notice.

Finally, one piece of the online reputation is consistency – if the work history is widely different than what was received in the resume, this reflects poorly on the candidate.  Of course, the work history and a LinkedIn profile shouldn’t be just a verbatim listing from the resume.  However, if dates, locations, company names, and other facts are inconsistent, it makes the job seeker look like they lack attention to detail.

Action builds reputations

Another factor that recruiters and managers check is how involved a candidate is online.  If he or she only has 20 connections and isn’t involved in the Groups, this doesn’t reflect well on how much they are willing to contribute to the industry as a whole.

Whenever you post a discussion or reply to a conversation, you are building your reputation within that Group.  Obviously, intelligent conversation is preferred, but sometimes just being involved is enough.  Of course, if you have something negative to say, don’t say it online!

Defending your reputation

Sometimes, things go sideways and your reputation may be attacked.  This happened to me recently.  One of my clients let me know that a former past connection of mine was tearing apart my work, stating that he would never get a job because he was following my advice.  This was especially hurtful because I have supported this business owner and his endeavors for years – both verbally and online.  Of course, my first reaction was to retaliate; thank goodness I’ve been self-trained to have greater restraint than that.

When faced with a reputation attack, first consider:

  1. The source – does this person have their own reputation problems or history of attacking people? If so, don’t take ownership of their character defects.
  2. Is it true? If yes, take the necessary actions to correct the behavior.  If not, think about what you can do to build on your positive reputation.

Now that the main questions have been addressed, come up with a plan to deal with the tarnishing event.  Your course of action may include:

  • Do nothing and let this person’s own karma catch up with them.
  • Reach out to your network and promote a positive achievement, idea, or action to counteract the reputation hit.
  • Journal writing about the incident. It’s normal to be mad or upset about the situation, but you don’t want to accidentally post a negative attack online or in an email that could come back to haunt you.

One of my mottos for my company is “Act with Honor.”  When faced with a reputation attack, I must keep this commitment first in my mind.  It’s very tempting to react to anger and bitterness with more of the same, but rarely does it lead to positive results – in business or in life.

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About the Author:

Since 2004, Donna has been teaching job seekers of all levels effective job search strategies. In 2009, she published her book “Get a Job Without Going Crazy: a Practical Guide to Your Employment Search.” Donna is based in Denver, and has presented workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. She continues to work with job seekers across the country.

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