In my industry, reputation management is a hot topic these days. It used to be only the C-suite needed to worry about their public persona. However, thanks to social media, now we all must consider how we're perceived in the business world. It's never been easier for a hiring manager or potential business partner to do some homework online about you. At my company, we tell clients, "Brand or BE branded." Failing to take proactive control of your professional reputation means you could be sending one or more of the following messages:
- I am out-of-touch with the new realities of career management.
- I don't have anything worthy to share about my professional accomplishments.
- I have something to hide in my past and need to stay under the radar.
For those who get angry at the thought of having to manage their public reputation. Or, feel they have a stable job and don't need to worry about this, I would encourage you to remember EVERY job it temporary and your network is you net worth. If for no other reason, you should embrace reputation management because of the opportunities it can provide you both now and in the future. You never know when you'll need to gain the trust of someone in your career.
Celebrities know, the key to being interesting is your career story.
The first step in getting up-to-speed with reputation management is to create your career story. It's the short summary you tell people about your journey to your current place in your career. Most people tell a boring, chronological recap of their work history. This puts people to sleep. The solution is to take a page from celebrities. They realize people want to hear a captivating story that holds attention and is easy to recall and share with others. A good career story has ups and downs, villains and heroes, unexpected plot twists, and most importantly, a happy ending. Think of your favorite celebrity? I'm sure you've read articles all about their journey to becoming successful, and that story endears you to them even more. The same approach is what can make hiring managers want to hire you!
Which one would you remember (and share!) with others?
Here are two examples of career stories. When asked, "Tell me about yourself:"
"I'm a project manager. I graduated from college in 1998 with a degree in business. I spent the first half of my career at a big company. I worked my way up the ladder until they finally made me a manager. Then, I left to work for a start-up. I've been there for some time and am looking for a new opportunity."
"I love managing projects. It started when I took a budgeting class in college and realized I was a total numbers geek! I like the idea of making sure we hit a goal while doing it within the constraints of a budget. When I graduated, I was determined to work for a Fortune 500 company and I succeeded. I stayed there for 5 years until I finally reached my goal of becoming a project manager. My first project I was in charge of had a $1M budget and I was petrified. But, I had learned a ton from former bosses and teammates so I was able to deliver it on time and under budget. From there, I realized I had to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone. For the next 5 years I took on bigger and bigger projects. Eventually, I left to work for a small start-up because I wanted the challenge of building something from the ground up. That's been an amazing experience. I was the tenth employee at my current employer. We are now at 300 employees and I manage all 10 project managers. I'm feeling the itch again now to move on because I realize I want to work on even larger projects with more moving parts. That's why I'm here today on this interview with you."
Which one would you find more interesting and easy to talk to in the interview? See how connecting the dots of your professional past in an entertaining way is more exciting and memorable?
P.S. - After the career story, comes the marketing materials for your reputation.
In addition to a interesting career story, you'll also need to brand your resume and LinkedIn profile to support your reputation. Learning the right way to convey your personality, aptitude, and experience on these tools is critical to delivering a cohesive brand strategy. Having full control of the messaging gives you the confidence your reputation is what you want it to be!