Reputations do not just apply to businesses. We all carry a reputation with us at all times – good or bad. Thinking about building our personal reputations, especially in a work setting, is a critical aspect of building a career.
Reputations are, in their simplest form, what people think about you. In the workplace this is important when thinking about building a career, in the development of relationships with colleagues, or helping to build a practice and attract new work. So, your personal reputation is critical and needs to be invested in.
There is no one way to build a reputation but they are not simply awarded for long or dedicated service. Instead, it helps us to think about both what we want from work but also what we contribute as well.
In their excellent book, ‘The Squiggly Career’, Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis encourage us all to think about our careers and recognise that “no one cares about your career as much as you do.” The concept of a career ladder is redundant and instead they are squiggly which means we all have more individual power.
It is impossible to capture, in a simple way, the wealth of ideas in their book but taking their core skills – super strengths, values, confidence, networks, and future possibilities – shows that we need to think about our own career design and what is needed to achieve that.
Taking the concept of a personal reputation seriously means considering both what you want to be known for and reflecting on how you are going to achieve that.
Skills are, of course, important but you may also want to reflect on the type of work you do and who you do it for. But also think about how you communicate your brand. How will others know?
One way is to gather evidence throughout. That could be through a social media presence with a clear work element but is also about accurate record keeping so you can provide examples of the good work in which you have been involved. Others may choose thought leadership to build their brand. The odd award or shortlisting here or there is another way in which you can show who and what you are.
Just as a business will put steps in place to build and protect a reputation, which includes thinking about the risks and where it could go wrong, then the same thinking should go into career building. But what are the benefits?
So, as Tupper and Ellis believe, “reflection, self-awareness and continual learning are now a career ‘must do’ rather than ‘nice to do’.” That means taking the time to reflect on your reputation and where you want to take it. Invest in yourself not just because it builds your career but because it helps others to know who you are.