Your reputation is one thing you can’t buy, beg, borrow or steal. Your reputation is yours alone, built by your actions–how well you perform, how you treat those around you up-and-down the ladder, your intelligence and your ethics.
Today, more than at any other time, your actions and deeds can be widely communicated through co-worker complaints on Facebook, Twitter or blogs, through a forwarded email from a disgruntled colleague, or just simply by those who come across you every day and who have friends industry-wide.
Let’s look at a couple of reputation killers that despite some short-term gain on your part, may end up being long-term personal PR disasters.
- Cultivating a competing offer of employment to leverage extra money or responsibilities where you are.
It may be quite clever to pull this off and you may pat yourself on the back if you managed to secure a “counter offer” to stay with your current employer. Ethically and as far as your long-term reputation is concerned, it’s a different story. You have used and abused your employer’s goodwill and you have wasted the time of recruiters and the resources of another employer to solidify your existing position.
Short-term as far as you are concerned, you’re smiling. You have either more money or a more prestigious role. How your current employer feels about being manipulated and forced into making a quick decision is anyone’s guess, although frankly if you’re still in that position 12 months from now, consider yourself lucky. From the recruiter’s and potential employer’s perspective–well your reputation has taken a big hit. If you think this is going to be forgotten and it isn’t really a big deal anyway, try applying for a job with the same recruiting firm or employer six months down the track and hope against hope you’re not unemployed when you’re doing so.
* Slacking off after giving notice.
Congratulations, you’ve found another job and you are currently serving out your notice with your existing company. Resist the temptation of tarnishing your reputation by slacking off, rubbishing the company to other employees and being an overall fun-loving distraction. Instead, continue to be a good employee; stay focused and work hard to the end. Your ethics, your ability to remain businesslike and earn the money that is being paid to you to do just that, will be the way you will be remembered. If you think that nobody will talk of how you confronted long-term enemies or “spilled the beans” by providing inside information to customers or suppliers, you are deluding yourself. Your reputation can be irrevocably damaged in serving out your remaining time.
Remember too, sometimes reference checks continue to be done after a job offer is made. Your reputation will be expanded upon through the eyes of others. Who will speak for you from the last job and what on earth will they say? A job offer can be rescinded right up to the day you start work if new and damaging information about you is uncovered.
Sustaining a successful career from teens to retirement takes more than being in the right place at the right time. Your reputation and your professional network are assets that will be most valuable to your career. It is in your interest to invest time and energy into both.