In life, there are very few things that you do where you can’t get a second chance. There is, however, one notable exception: your reputation.
A great reputation may be the single most valuable asset you can possess. It is important at all stages of your career, whether you are just embarking on your post collegiate job search or are well into your career.
It only takes a Twitter second for your bad act to go viral in the digital era. If you are job searching, your reputation is critically important. There’s a reason employers ask for references. They want to hear about the “real” you.
If you haven’t done so, Google yourself and, please, delete anything that would cause an employer to reconsider your job readiness.
It takes years of hard work, consistency and integrity to build a positive reputation. Lose it, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever get it back.
Here are 14 simple tips, to help you create and keep a great reputation:
1. Be on time. Being late is a sign of disregard for the other person’s time.
2. Be responsive. Respond quickly to emails, text messages and voicemails. “Quickly” is defined by the sender, not you, and varies based on the communication medium. Texts are like Tweets. They go stale in 15 minutes. Emails and voicemails should be returned within the same day.
3. Be calm. If you are in a situation, and you realize it’s going south, take a deep breath or excuse yourself. Blowing up is rarely appreciated or effective. No one likes “crazy” in the workplace.
4. Be kind. It’s far easier to be nice than nasty. The “likeability” factor matters. Being nice will further your career faster than being a jerk.
5. Be consistent. If your boss or co-workers never know “which you” is going to show up at work, your career will suffer. When you move up the management ranks, you learn that your bad days are yours alone and best left at home.
6. Be patient. This is easier said than done. Often the right decision is one that is made after getting more information and understanding all the facts before acting. I love the expression “the truth lies somewhere in between.” Rarely is any decision black or white.
7. Be gracious. Merriam-Webster defines gracious as “being polite in a way that shows respect.” If someone needs to give you bad news, take it politely and professionally.
8. Be sincere. When you make a mistake, apologize sincerely. A real apology is not about you. It’s about the other person. It is not about your intent; it’s about your impact. Acknowledge your impact.
9. Be responsible. Own up to your mistakes and correct them. How you act after you’ve made a mistake says a lot about you.
10. Be respectful. Everyone, regardless of his or her role, title or background, is worthy of respect. Don’t adjust your behavior based on your perception of how important someone is or what they can do for you.
11. Be thankful. Say thank you, genuinely, and often, to everyone who helps you. If you aren’t saying thank you at least daily, then you aren’t paying enough attention. Chances are many of the people around you are helping you in ways both big and small.
12. Be dependable. Do what you say you will do. Do it on time. Do it well. Over deliver, and do it better, and earlier, than you said you’d do it.
13. Be ethical. Always do the right thing. It’s never the wrong decision.
14. Be grateful. Having a good job is a privilege, not a right.
A reputation is earned every day, through your words and your actions. Embrace these tips and that person everyone holds up as the person they’d like to be, might eventually be you.
Lisa R. Miller is founder and chief career catalyst at C2C, College to Career, where she helps college students, recent graduates and young professionals navigate the transition from college to career.