As this great article on Forbes points out, ‘your actions + what others say about you = your reputation’. It’s a formula that I tell all my jobseeker clients to write on a brightly colored sticky note and pin to their desktop. Why? Because your reputation is your currency and it has a major impact on your employability – especially in the social media era.
The fact that hiring managers check LinkedIn to screen prospective candidates is not news and as a sustainability careers and executive coach, I’ve written countless blogs explaining how to make your professional profile shine.
But, while everyone knows not to have embarrassing photos made public on their Facebook or Twitter, most people don’t realize that, rather than just managing for damage control, they could be managing online networks to actively add value to their reputation too.
A strong digital reputation can give you real competitive advantage in the jobs marketplace. This is especially true in the sustainability and CSR markets where integrity, community and credibility are part of the job description. The tweets and posts you craft in your online life can tell an employer more than you might think and the comments that readers make below a post constitute those valuable ‘word-of-mouth’ endorsements from people in your industry.
Given that sustainability jobs are in such high demand, and hiring managers are pinned to their collar with an average of 200+ applicants per role, investing a little time and energy to enhance your credibility can really set you apart from the crowd.
Here are my top five tricks to help you leverage your online reputation and use it to land your dream job.
1) Be authentic
It might sound simple, but it’s deceptively so. Practicing what you preach is a must for anyone working in CSR or sustainability, and your reputation depends on it. Be true to your values in what you do and say online and share examples of your commitments to key issues like climate change, diversity or social accountability in supply chains. When you comment on articles, look for ways to enhance the conversation and engage your peers – even if you disagree with what’s being said. Do it respectfully, and in a way that demonstrates your values. Make sure you “walk your talk”.
2) Be a good listener
Ok, so maybe you don’t ‘listen’ much online. But what do you hear? Tune in to industry-related groups and communities, pay real attention to the issues that arise and respond with empathy and insight. When people comment on or reply to your posts, do as you would in real life and acknowledge it! A simple thank you and a question can go a long way in developing connections with the human being on the other side of the screen, which in turn helps to build your personal brand and enhance your reputation. A little kindness goes a long way.
3) Be confident
A great reputation starts with self-esteem and confidence, so don’t be afraid to talk about your successes and accomplishments online, as well as voice your opinions. If you’ve done something well, share it and ask for feedback from others in your field and the people whose work you admire. This will enhance your reputation as somebody who is confident in their achievements and proud of what they do while helping to demonstrate your work ethic and commitment as well as your collaborative approach.
4) Be patient yet diligent
Establishing a professional reputation isn’t something you can do overnight, so don’t expect instant results. I’ve been tweeting for seven years and I’m still building mine every day! Commit and set yourself targets, like to tweet at least one interesting story or piece of research per day. Keep plugging away developing your voice and growing your networks and slowly other people’s awareness of who you are, what you do and how you do it will start to snowball. Always take advantage of events and conferences to share your message with larger groups of people and, if there’s a major story or issue hitting the mainstream press, make sure you get involved in the conversation. Make your voice heard.
5) Let others do the talking
This is the golden rule. While you shouldn’t hold back in sharing your achievements, opinions and ideas, let others do the actual talking about how great you are: you don’t have to brag, because your reputation speaks for itself. Get recommendations on LinkedIn, get colleagues and friends to reTweet your content, and do the same for others. You are building your community as well as your reputation.
Where will you start in enhancing your online reputation? How will you use it to stand out from the crowd? Let me know in the comments and if you’re interested in learning more about personal branding and the role it plays in helping you land your dream job, check out my website.