Mastering Your Professional Reputation

Episode 239 - Why Reputation Matters More Than Ever in Today's Job Market
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With unemployment durations averaging 20 weeks in the USA, Australia, and the UK as of April 2024, the job market is tougher than ever. This is a significant improvement from December 2023, when the average duration was over 22 weeks, but it’s still a challenging environment for job seekers.

Having a strong professional reputation can make all the difference in this tough and competitive scenario and become one of your most valuable assets. It can open doors, provide resilience in tough times, and significantly shorten the duration of unemployment. But what exactly is reputation, and how does it differ from personal branding?

In this podcast episode (239), I discuss the nuances of professional reputation. Because I strongly believe that by understanding and leveraging concepts such as reputation and personal branding can accelerate your career advancement and help you achieve your goals.

Mastering Reputation

Reputation is one of the most powerful tools in a professional’s arsenal. In the corporate world, where competition for roles is fierce, a strong reputation can open doors, provide resilience in tough times, and significantly shorten the duration of unemployment. In this blog and on the podcast episode, let’s explore the nuances of professional reputation, its importance, and actionable steps to build and maintain it. We will also look at real-life examples of individuals who have mastered their reputations and those who have successfully rehabilitated theirs.

Understanding Reputation and Personal Brand

What is Reputation?

Reputation is the collective opinion of your peers, employers, and clients about your capability and professional conduct. It is built over time through every job you’ve performed, every deadline you’ve met, and every interaction you’ve had with colleagues and clients. It is somewhat passive, as it results from others’ perceptions of you, regardless of your efforts to shape it. Whether you intend to or not, you will develop a reputation based on your professional behavior and achievements.

What is Personal Brand?

While reputation is passive, personal brand is active. Personal branding involves intentionally marketing yourself to develop a career aligned with your goals and aspirations. It includes the active creation and management of your image, involving how you position yourself, explain past events, and shape perceptions of your future direction. Personal branding is crucial for career changers or those moving to a new geographical location or industry sector. It is about controlling the narrative and influencing how others perceive you.

The Importance of a Strong Reputation

Here are five reasons why you should start paying attention and enhancing your professional reputation, so that it becomes the most important asset in your career toolkit:

Faster Job Offers

A solid reputation for excellence and reliability makes you more likely to receive job offers quickly. Employers value candidates with a proven track record who come highly recommended. Recommendations often happen through networking benefits, where a good reputation provides a supportive professional network. This network can offer referrals, recommendations, and insider information about job opportunities.

Networking Benefits

Having a good reputation means you are more visible to recruiters and hiring managers, which can lead to more proactive job offers. These offers might come to you even when you’re not actively looking for them. A strong reputation increases your visibility and credibility, making it easier for recruiters to notice you and for hiring managers to trust you.

Higher Trust and Credibility

Trust and likability are critical factors in getting a job. A known reputation for quality and integrity reassures potential employers of your value. It reduces the time they need to verify your credentials and references because they already know of you and trust the people who recommend you. Social proof, testimonials, endorsements, and a strong presence in professional circles all contribute to this trust.

Better Salary Negotiation

Professionals with a strong reputation often have more leverage in salary negotiations. A good reputation signals to employers that you are a valuable asset, allowing you to negotiate better compensation and benefits. Anecdotally, many of my clients with strong reputations have successfully secured higher salaries and better job offers.

Resilience During Economic Downturns

Professionals with strong reputations are more resilient during tough economic times. They are valued more by employers, reducing the likelihood of long-term unemployment.

Real-Life Examples of Reputation

Ever wondered how top professionals build and maintain their stellar reputations? On the podcast I highlight four inspiring stories of well-known leaders who have set benchmarks in their fields.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett’s reputation is built on his profound investment prowess and ethics. He is admired not only in finance but also as a philanthropist and someone down to earth. Buffett’s long-term focus and integrity distinguish him in an industry often criticized for short-termism and high risk. His authentic leadership brand makes complex investments accessible and understandable to many, showcasing that you don’t have to conform to the norm to succeed.

Ginny Rometty

Ginny Rometty, the former CEO of IBM, is known as a transformational leader. She steered IBM towards embracing cloud computing and AI, focusing on growth and innovation. Her reputation is built on her ability to drive significant change and lead a major corporation through technological advancements.

Mary Barra

Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, is known for her problem-solving leadership style. She took the helm shortly after GM’s bankruptcy and successfully revitalized the company with strategies that saved it during a critical time. Barra’s reputation is built on her resilience and ability to lead through challenging circumstances.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.’s story is one of remarkable recovery. Known for his legal issues and substance abuse problems, he disappeared from acting for years. Through commitment to sobriety and revitalizing his career, he not only returned to greatness but surpassed his previous successes. His journey shows that it is possible to restore and even enhance your reputation with dedication and effort.

These leaders show that a strong reputation is built on consistency, integrity, and the ability to lead through challenging times. They also illustrate the importance of being authentic and true to oneself, regardless of industry norms.

Steps to Recover from a Damaged Reputation

Even the most successful professionals can face challenges that impact their reputation. The key is how you recover and rebuild it.

Here is a summary of the crucial steps we cover on the podcast:

Acknowledge and Take Responsibility

The first step in recovering from a damaged reputation is acknowledging your mistakes and taking full responsibility. Public figures like Tiger Woods and Robert Downey Jr. publicly admitted their mistakes and took steps to address them.

Seek Professional Help

Depending on your situation, seeking professional help might be necessary. This could involve working with a career coach, life coach, or health provider. Professional guidance can help you navigate the challenges of reputation recovery and support your personal growth.

Demonstrate Behavior Change

A genuine apology and a commitment to change are crucial. This involves building new behaviors, disciplines, and ways of working. Demonstrating long-term change and commitment to personal and professional integrity is essential for regaining trust.

Maintain Transparent Communication

Being transparent about the steps you’re taking to rectify mistakes and improve your professional conduct is vital. Effective communication helps rebuild trust and shows your commitment to change.

Support Relevant Causes

Supporting causes aligned with your situation can help in reputation recovery. Advocating for issues related to your challenges demonstrates your commitment to positive change and can reestablish your professional credential.

Upskill or Reskill

Updating your skills is crucial, especially if you’ve been out of the game for a while. Engaging in continuous learning and professional development helps you stay relevant and demonstrates your dedication to improvement.

Building and maintaining a strong professional reputation is not just about doing good work; it’s about consistently communicating that value to a broader professional community. In challenging times, the value of a good reputation is exponential, easing your path into employment, enhancing your visibility, and boosting your credibility. Whether you are building your reputation from scratch or recovering from a setback, the steps outlined above can guide you toward a resilient and successful career.

Remember, reputation is a long-term investment. Be patient, strategic, and kind to yourself. Spend time developing a strong personal brand, understanding your current reputation, and continuously improving it. This investment will pay off by providing resilience, opening up opportunities, and helping you achieve your career goals.

Renata Bernarde

About the Host, Renata Bernarde

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.

 

If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.

 

In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients

What is a professional reputation?

A professional reputation is the collective opinion of your peers, employers, and clients about your capability and professional conduct. It is built over time through interactions, achievements, and behaviors in a professional context.

How is reputation different from personal branding?

Reputation is generally a passive result of how others perceive you based on your actions and interactions. Personal branding, on the other hand, is an active process of marketing yourself and intentionally shaping how others perceive you to align with your career goals.

Why is having a strong professional reputation important?

A strong professional reputation can lead to faster job offers, enhanced networking opportunities, increased trust and credibility, better salary negotiations, and greater resilience during economic downturns. It can significantly influence your career advancement and job search success.

How can I build a strong professional reputation?

Building a strong professional reputation involves consistently delivering high-quality work, maintaining integrity, fostering positive relationships, actively seeking feedback, and continuously improving your skills. Engaging in networking and participating in professional communities also help.

Can you provide examples of individuals with strong professional reputations?

Notable examples include Warren Buffett, known for his investment acumen and ethical conduct; Ginny Rometty, former CEO of IBM, recognized for her transformational leadership; and Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, celebrated for her problem-solving leadership style.

How can networking benefits from a strong reputation help my career?

A strong reputation can enhance your professional network, providing you with referrals, recommendations, and insider information about job opportunities. It increases your visibility to recruiters and hiring managers, potentially leading to more proactive job offers and career opportunities.

What role does trust and credibility play in professional reputation?

Trust and credibility are crucial for establishing a strong professional reputation. They reassure potential employers and colleagues of your reliability and ethical standards, making you a preferred candidate for job offers and promotions.

How can personal branding contribute to my professional reputation?

Personal branding involves intentionally shaping how you present yourself to the market. By aligning your personal brand with your professional reputation, you can control the narrative about your career, showcase your strengths, and influence how others perceive you, ultimately enhancing your professional reputation.

How can I leverage my professional reputation for career advancement?

Leveraging your professional reputation involves using it to gain trust and credibility, enhance networking opportunities, and negotiate better job offers and salaries. Actively showcasing your achievements and maintaining positive relationships within your professional community can significantly boost your career advancement prospects.

Timestamps to Guide Your Listening

  • 00:44 The Importance of Reputation
  • 02:22 Current State of Unemployment
  • 03:31 Defining Reputation and Personal Brand
  • 06:18 Building a Strong Reputation
  • 13:00 Real-Life Examples of Reputation
  • 17:16 Recovering from a Damaged Reputation
  • 22:19 Conclusion and Final Thoughts

I’ve had a strange week so far. I’m recording this episode very late. I’ve done almost no work this week, and thankfully, it’s not a coaching week. Otherwise, I would be in trouble with my clients. This week was supposed to be about admin work and strategy, but instead, I hurt my back and have been unwell, doing the best I can, which means not much at all.

At times like this, I am grateful for my good reputation, that people know I’m not lazy or procrastinating, and they’re understanding and can adapt to my situation. My reputation also continues to bring me work automatically, so I’m still getting leads and clients, even though I’m not actively working for a few days.

Today, I want to talk to you about the power of reputation in the professional world. I want us to explore how a strong reputation can open doors, keep you resilient in tough times, and significantly shorten the duration of your unemployment. Stay tuned. Let’s discuss this and how to build and maintain a strong reputation over time that stands the test of time.

I also want to share some statistics about the time you will be spending looking for work at the moment. Let’s do it.

Welcome back. Or if you’re new, welcome to The Job Hunting Podcast. If you are a professional looking for work now, or you are looking for work in the future, remember that you can follow this channel or this podcast wherever you found it—be it Apple, Spotify, Amazon, or YouTube. Or better still, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

I will send the episodes every week to your email, plus a whole bunch of things I only send to my subscribers. You won’t regret it. There is a link to it in the episode show notes. It will only take a minute. Now, I want to talk to you about the current state of unemployment and the challenges you face if you’re looking for work right now.

In the USA, as of April 2024, the average duration of unemployment is around 20 weeks. This figure is an improvement from December 2023, when it was around 22 weeks. That reflects a challenging labor market. In normal times, it would be around 12 to 13 weeks, just to give you an idea. This average also holds for Australia and the UK.

Those are my three markets for clients. I have clients in other countries and continents, but most of them tell me that it is a tough market for recruitment and selection of candidates for corporate roles at this time. We discussed in our last episode, 238, that this situation of long unemployment affects not only your financial situation and your career but also your feelings of loneliness, mental health issues, and personal lives.

So, we really need to address this and pay attention. Then, in terms of reputation, why did I share this data with you before talking about professional reputation? First, let me tell you what reputation is. It’s a collective of opinions of your peers, employers, and clients about your capability and your professional conduct.

A solid reputation means that you are recognized for your expertise, reliability, and ethics. It accumulates over time through every job you’ve performed, every deadline you’ve delivered on, and every interaction you’ve had with your colleagues and clients. In this podcast, we talk about reputation. We talk about personal brand. Are they the same thing? Not really, but they’re interrelated. Reputation and personal brand are different concepts, but they are linked in many ways. Reputation is typically seen as that collective opinion that others have about you.

It’s built over time through interactions, achievements, and behaviors in a professional context. It’s passive in the sense that it results from others’ opinions about you. Whether or not there is an intentional effort to shape it, you will end up with a reputation. Now, personal branding is more intentional.

It’s about how you can actively market yourself and develop a career from now onwards that aligns with your goals and the things you want to achieve. It involves the active creation and management of your image. It will involve building reputation, but it’s also about narrative—about how you position yourself, explain past events, and start designing and shaping perceptions of where you’re going in the future.

This is particularly important for those changing careers, countries, or moving to a new geographical location, such as a new city or industry sector. While reputation is about how others perceive you, personal brand is about how you present yourself to the market and influence those perceptions.

Both are crucial and very important for career development. When you work with a coach like me, we talk a lot about reputation and professional brand. With a strong brand strategy, you can gradually begin to control your reputation because you start acting on that combination of what you say, how you present it, and the quality of the work that you do.

Now, in challenging times, the value of a good reputation is exponential. Why does it matter so much? It’s because the job market is more competitive, so there is more competition for each role. Having a good reputation eases your path into employment, helps you get jobs more quickly, and plays a critical role in networking.

A strong reputation increases your visibility with recruiters, boosts your credibility, and opens up opportunities for better negotiations when you’re offered a job. It can really reduce unemployment. Let’s discuss each of these reasons in detail. First, faster job offers. Why?

How does it happen? If you have a solid reputation for excellence and reliability, you’re more likely to receive job offers quickly. Employers value candidates with a proven track record who come highly recommended by others. And how do these recommendations happen? Through networking benefits.

A good reputation means you have a supportive professional network. This network can provide you with referrals, recommendations, and advocate for you internally. If they need someone in their organization, you get more insider information and learn about jobs that are not advertised. This enhances your visibility.

You are more likely to be noticed by recruiters and hiring managers in this way. This visibility can lead to more proactive job offers, those that come to you even when you’re not actively looking for them. Then there’s higher trust and credibility. When an individual has a known reputation for quality and integrity, potential employers are more likely to trust you.

Trust and likability are two very important factors in getting a job. It reduces their time in verifying your credentials and references because they know of you, they’ve heard of you, and they trust the people who have told them you are a good employee. You can achieve this through social proof, testimonials, and endorsements, and a strong presence in professional circles.

It reassures hiring managers of your strong value. It doesn’t mean that you need to be employed or have a big network. You can start building it even through LinkedIn. And like I said, the final point I wanted to make was about salary negotiation at the end. Anecdotally, I’ve seen with my clients that a strong reputation really supports you in getting more benefits at that time.

So, professionals with a strong reputation are more resilient during economic downturns. They are more valued by employers, and this reduces the likelihood of long-term unemployment. With that comes a targeted job search that individuals with a well-established reputation tend to be better at.

They know what they’re good at, so they can target jobs that suit them. This is really important. Reputation is also about you knowing your strengths, which optimizes your job search. We offer a strengths assessment test as part of my services, which can really help you start developing an understanding of your reputation.

And finally, I wanted to talk about niche areas. Some people worry that their reputation is too niche, making it hard to find high-quality candidates with specific skills. However, don’t be afraid to have a strong reputation in a niche because employers are likely to expedite the hiring process for candidates who come recommended and have a verifiable track record of achievement in a specific area.

They know that such candidates are well-known within their niche. So, building and maintaining a strong professional reputation is not just about doing good work; it’s about consistently communicating that value to a broader professional community, which in turn can shield you against prolonged unemployment.

Many times, people have a good reputation but within a small group. Even if you’re niche, you can still start to open up and let other people know about your reputation. LinkedIn, attending events, professional associations, writing, presenting—all these activities help. Engaging in continuous learning through those connections and being active can also help you become even better in your area of expertise.

In this connected world, platforms like LinkedIn allow your accomplishments, reputation, and endorsements to be showcased to others who don’t know you yet. At this point, I need to mention that I will soon be releasing a LinkedIn program, and I want you to know about it as soon as possible if you feel like you could do better on LinkedIn. This program will be affordable, and I’m putting it together for professionals just like you. If you want to be the first to know about the launch, just sign up. And if you’re watching this later, it could already be available.

Now, sometimes we need to fix reputations, and in this digital age, this comes with challenges because negative information can spread so quickly. Addressing reputational issues promptly and transparently is so important. Show that you’re committed to improving and taking steps to rectify mistakes or misunderstandings.

This could mean seeking feedback, communicating, improving skills, or using the professional services of career coaches or other types of service providers that can help you manage your reputation and come back swinging. I’d like for us to look at some real-life examples of reputation and have some fun talking about a few people here because their experiences—how good their reputation is or how they revamped their reputation—can really be helpful in inspiring us and helping us bounce back during times of immense challenges that we face, because we can see those challenges in other people.

And I want us to be inspired by these people. One of the individuals I’d like to talk about is Warren Buffett. His reputation is built on his profound investment prowess and his ethics, and he has a high level of admiration from people who don’t even know much about finance. His reputation goes above and beyond his area of expertise.

He’s celebrated as a philanthropist and as someone quite down to earth, different from how we typically imagine and perceive people in finance. Warren Buffett stands out; he’s kind of an odd man out, and I wonder how challenging it must have been when he began focusing on the long-term value of his work and that integrity that distinguishes him in an industry often critiqued for short-termism and high risk—yet, he is the opposite.

And that authenticity is important. It might seem like a newer trend, but Warren Buffett has been exemplifying this for a long time, building a very authentic leadership brand that’s down to earth and easy to understand, making complex investments and strategies accessible to many.

His public persona is very different from that of his peers: approachable, wise, sought after, down to earth. It shows that you don’t have to conform to the norm. This is what I’m trying to say.

Now, I want to talk about two amazing women who have both achieved so much in their careers but have different reputations. One is Ginny Rometty, the former CEO of IBM, known as a transformational CEO. She was pivotal in steering IBM towards embracing cloud computing and AI, focusing on growth and innovation.

Another CEO, Mary Barra of General Motors, is known for her problem-solving leadership style. She took the helm shortly after GM’s bankruptcy, steering the company from downturn to revitalization, adopting strategies that saved the company during a critical time.

It’s important for us not to just rely on our job titles for our reputation. What are we good at within our specific roles, whether you’re a product manager, marketing manager, or any other position? It’s crucial to establish a reputation based on your expertise and not just your title, especially in these challenging times.

I also want to discuss an example of someone who had to recover from a damaged reputation—Robert Downey Jr. Known for his legal issues and substance abuse, he disappeared from acting for years and had to manage a comeback by committing to sobriety and revitalizing his career, not just returning to greatness but surpassing his previous successes. This should be incredibly inspiring, showing that it’s possible to not only restore but also enhance your career.

We have a podcast episode here on The Job Hunting Podcast with a guest named Sasha Kaufman, where we discuss this theme of coming back and revitalizing one’s reputation. I would love for you to listen to that episode. There will be a link in the episode show notes, and by listening to Sasha and hearing these stories, we see that there are great opportunities to recover from reputational damage.

Everyone, even Warren Buffett, Ginny Rometty, and Mary Barra, will face times when they need to do this. The first step in recovery is acknowledgment, taking full responsibility.

Tiger Woods and Robert Downey Jr. publicly admitted to their mistakes and took steps to address them, often with a PR machine behind them. What I’m sharing with you today is essentially the recipe that PR companies use to help individuals like Robert Downey Jr.

A sincere apology and a genuine interest in the issue at hand are crucial for public figures facing scandal. It’s important to understand that you can’t just apply the recipe and expect it to work. The next step is seeking professional help. For Robert Downey Jr., it was for substance abuse, but it could be a career coach, a life coach, or a health provider for others. It’s crucial in these moments to not only seek personal growth but to also showcase it, helping you regain trust from those around you.

Then, there’s behavior change. Yes, you’re genuinely sorry and want to make amends, which comes from building new behaviors, disciplines, and ways of working. In the book *Firing Back*, which I highly recommend, it discusses many people, including Martha Stewart and the efforts she made in her professional life that gradually helped improve her public image.

These efforts need to be genuine. Martha Stewart is a great example because she was very good at being transparent, honest, and communicating well. Maintaining communication with the public, being transparent about the steps you’ve taken to amend, is vital. It needs to ring true to you, and I think she managed to do that quite well.

Another important aspect is supporting relevant causes, advocating for issues aligned with your situation. Sasha Kaufman discusses this on his podcast. He supports causes linked to the challenges he faced as a young professional. It’s part of that recovery recipe and it needs to resonate with you. It’s a great way to share your story, teach others, and reestablish your professional credentials.

Returning to professional success happens through hard work. Part of recovery might mean you need to upskill or reskill, do some professional development because you might have been out of the game for a while. Remember, updating your skills is crucial if that’s the case.

What else can we discuss? Demonstrating long-term change and commitment to personal and professional integrity is what will work day by day to bring you back into the workforce.

To wrap up this episode, remember it is a long-term investment. If you’re looking for a job tomorrow, this episode might seem less relevant, but if you have five, ten, fifteen, twenty more years of work ahead, then spending a few days, weeks, or even months working on your reputation, your personal brand, and your career plans is a valuable investment of your time. Yes, look for work, but also spend some time developing a strong personal brand and understanding what your current reputation is and how you can improve it over time, or even steer it in a different direction.

Keep in touch with me, don’t forget to subscribe and watch other episodes. The Sasha Kaufman episode is a great one to start with. I hope you enjoyed this conversation, and I look forward to talking to you next time. Bye for now, and I’ll see you later.

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