PERCEPTION: A way of regarding, understanding or interpreting something; a mental impression.
Perception lives in the minds of the people we encounter -- our target employers, networking contacts, clients, colleagues, etc. Their perception of who we are and what we can offer directly influences their willingness to give us what we want; i.e., a job, referrals, information or support. Do the people in your line of sight see you as trustworthy, capable and confident? Or do they see you as difficult to deal with and unresponsive? The impact of reputation to your career is significant.
What Is Reputation Management?
Everyone has a personal brand; it is your reputation, what others use to assign you value and relevance. A brand is an emotional connection you have with others, and it sets the expectation of an experience of working with you. When you manage your personal brand (reputation management), you deploy an intentional strategy to remain authentic, focused in your efforts and able to measure impact and results.
Employers care about your reputation: They want to know you have articulated your offer, have a vision for how you want to be known and will live up to the expectations you set for yourself. In addition, employers care about what other people say about you; how do they see you as valuable?
Emotions vs. Logic
We hire people who not only have the qualifications and capability to do the job, but who make us feel a certain way. We know these people to be professional and capable, but what causes us to "buy" -- to hire them -- is how we expect we will feel working with them. It has been said, "We act on logic, ... and we buy on emotion."
Job seekers must understand the importance of differentiation to gain competitive advantage over others and attract the attention of desired civilian employers. And successful job seekers are building strong personal brands to intentionally create a reputation for themselves that maintains competitive advantage -- in person and in the online world.
Personal branding and reputation management are not spin or "PR." Personal branding does not make you into something you're not. It begins by understanding what you are passionate about, what you value and how you live an authentic life. Then, the tools and strategy you will deploy articulate and show your passion and talents in ways that get the attention of prospective employers.
Creating a Powerful Reputation
Job seekers achieve relevancy to potential employers by being focused and careful about their interactions with key audiences.
To build a powerful personal brand, start by paying attention to how you show up in every experience -- from your online posts, to how you engage with others at networking events, to the way you answer the question, "What do you do?" in a job interview. How do you want to be perceived in all these situations? What do you want these people to believe about you?
In your search for innovative tools to position yourself to potential employers and grow your career, consider the impact and effectiveness of your reputation. Reputation management differentiates you from your other job seekers, attracts opportunities to you and enables you to receive recognition for your accomplishments. Personal branding uncovers your desired goals and brings you benefits over your entire life -- personal and professional.
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