Your reputation matters more than ever. In modern life, we have professional, personal, client, customer, and online reputations to protect and nurture. Self-help books sell in their millions revealing the ‘secrets’ of how to gain a winning reputation in every area of life. And yet, incredibly, many choose to gamble their reputation when it comes to entering the job market. This temptation to tell half-truth’s that can ultimately destroy your career ambitions. Here are 4 typical scenarios to how these gambles can occur…
1. The First Throw Of The Dice
You decide to enter the job market and you have your first conversation with the Recruiter. They ask you why you want to change jobs or to explain a short-term permanent position on your CV. Do you risk telling them the ugly truth? Or do you appease them by blaming your current boss for a lack of investment in your career?
The Gamble: Blame. By blaming others for your career problems or lack of progression, you’ve found an easy answer.
The Solution: If you take ownership for how and why things may not have worked out and how you intend to remedy the situation, it demonstrates your maturity and integrity.
2. The CV ‘Shared Glory’ Gamble
You want your CV to look great and you want to finally get the credit you deserve for your wonderful achievements.
The Gamble: This is where you bask in shared glory “delivered a £10million project on time on budget” when you were really in charge of a relatively small section or part of the project. You want the interview so do you over-egg your achievements or tell the true story?
The Solution: Be accurate and honest. Any Recruiter/Interviewer worth their salt will know the right questions to ask to have you squirming about those half-truths in an interview. Save yourself the hassle. Tell the truth, but use ‘active’ language (such as “achieved”, “facilitated”, “Responsible for…”, “Operated within a team of…”) that will accurately portray your achievements in a succinct and good light.
3. The ‘Salary’ Gamble
You’re tempted to include the bonus-you-never-got in your remuneration package when asked to supply your current earnings to a potential employer. You’re leaving for a pay rise after all; so let the negotiations begin right?
The Gamble: Many employers will ask to see a copy of your last payslip, or a P60 as well as a P45. This will instantly reveal the lie either just before or right at the beginning of your new employment.
The Solution: Be honest about your current earnings, but also be honest about your desired (and the minimum acceptable) levels of income in order to warrant moving jobs. Find out the company’s target salary range for the position then use ranges e.g. £45k-£50k which overlaps with their range. This facilitates real and honest negotiation. You can also show off your incredible negotiation skills here!
4. The ‘No-Show’ Interview Gamble
We’ve all been there; forgetting to attend an appointment or a meeting or getting the time/day wrong. Trouble is how do you keep your reputation intact and limit the damage?
The Gamble: You’re panicking. You need to say something. Or do you just hide and go to ground?
Incredibly, many job-seekers in this situation seem to think that the more dramatic the cover-story, the more believable it’ll sound to the Recruiter. The thing is, recruiters have heard it all before. Too many times!
The Solution: Come clean, you forgot. Your Recruiter’s job is to be the buffer in these situations. If they have a strong working relationship with the client, they’ll be able to limit any reputational damage. Yes, there’s a chance the client won’t be so understanding; but it’s your reputation that matters here. Send an apologetic follow-up email and learn from the experience; if the job search is a priority then treat it like one.
Your Recruiter Is Your Advocate
A good Recruiter spends his or her time developing networks. They act as an advocate for candidates within their target market sectors. They can not only introduce you to some great people, they can also enhance your reputation in the industry. Choose your Recruiter wisely and you'll have an advocate for your career. If you gamble with the information you give your chosen Recruiter(s); you not only risk losing their support, you will also lose access to their networks and clients, as well as doing damage to your professional reputation.
Your reputation is your ‘career net worth’; don’t raise the stakes, raise your value by practising integrity when it comes to job searching!