An column in the Wall Street Journal reminds folks who are job hunting that “Your reputation for trustworthiness is your greatest asset.” It answers a career question about what to do if you have embellished your resume and end up getting an interview as a result. Their answer: send the employer a new resume and “Simply say that this résumé is updated and clearer.” This is the first and second part of the ROCC of Trust: be reliable and open–tell the truth on a consistent basis.
I agree that you need to be completely honest on your resume at all times and be clear about who you are and what you’ve done. The best promotion I received when I worked in the plastic container industry did not give me the same title as the man who had the position before me. He was the National Account Manager and even though I had the same exact job (responsibility for the $75 million Pepsi Cola account–which was a national account covering 19 plants across the United States), my title after taking over his responsibilities was only, “account manager“. To this day, you will see on my resume that there is no national account manager, as much as I would like to say that and as much as it actually better explains what I did in my position, it is not factually correct.
It is sad that they found that “46% of employment, education and reference checks showed discrepancies with information provided by job candidates.” What does this say about folks that they have to alter their credentials in order to get ahead? How do folks expect to be trusted if they are not proving themselves to be trustworthy?
It is the time of the semester when I have my students write a self-marketing plan. They always look at me with a bit of skepticism at first, but later many of them come back and thank me for encouraging them to work on a cover letter, re-write their resume, and reflect on their strengths.
It is a good time for all of us to reflect on our strengths, no matter if we are forced to look for a new job, or want to.
There are two great articles I assign my students to get them started. Tom Peter’s article, The Brand Called You from 1997 is still a very popular article on the Fast Company website and is still very relevant to us today. Peters reminds us that “A brand is the promise of the value you’ll receive.” It is important for us today to reflect on what our value is, to our current company, but also to a prospective employer. Why are we a better hire than the person sitting next to us? What makes us unique? He also reminds us that even if we are not looking for a job right now, we need to work on our brand image by being “a great teammate and supportive colleague” today. We never know when a new opportunity might come our way and we will need a reference from that person sitting next to us. Or, as Aneil pointed out in his post on asking for a linkedin.com recommendation, if we are not performing as an excellent colleague now, how can someone vouch for us later when we ask them?
The second article is from Jay Conrad Levinson’s Guerilla Marketing series, Guerilla Marketing Yourself. Levinson also reminds us to examine our strengths, set goals and measure them, but he starts with a startling idea: Guerrillas send no unintentional messages. This requires us to think about how we present ourselves in every situation and to each person we encounter. It is also helpful to have that elevator pitch in your head ready to go when you get the usual, “So, what do you do?” This comes back to being your authentic self, which we agree is a more trustworthy way to build your own personal brand.
It is never too late to brush off that resume and give it an overhaul or to spruce up your cover letter. Both will present your best self when you have reflected on 1) your brand promise and 2) the intentional message you want to convey.