In this day there’s little privacy, everyone’s information and what they’re up to is all over social media and if you want to find out what people are saying, where they work what they do - its all online.
So it stands to reason that what you do for work, what you can do skills wise, is also available online.
the pros and cons of the way things are right now with respect to our information is probably a topic for another time, but for the purposes of this post our lives and our information is out there for everyone to see and it is what it is.
My mum would always tell my brothers and I
“a good name is better than a pretty face”
meaning reputation was better than any outward appearance. And its as true today as it was back in the day - even more so I would argue, because of how we live most of our lives online.
It’s all online. Even the stuff that’s not.
And although the fact all our business is available for the world to see can be a double-edged sword of sorts, I’m going to argue this is a good thing.
Because now we have a new kind of workforce and workplace. One where our resumes and work experience and online profiles are more than an interview function. It’s our brand.
What do I mean by brand?
Now, I’m no marketing expert, so brand to me means the thoughts and feelings you associate with a “thing”, a celebrity, a company, an object.
The same way you feel some type of way about Gucci, Prada, Nike and Steinlager, now you can experience people online in the same way. Because everyone online has a presence whether they like it or not. And your online presence can be to your advantage, or your detriment.
Not too long ago the news outlets were abuzz with employers and recruiters browsing people’s online profiles and usually finding something people wouldn’t normally want their employers to see. We had a big cry about privacy and not being held accountable to what we do in our personal lives.
(sidenote: I find this logic sort of funny, because if you’re an a$$hole in your personal life, am I to believe that in the workplace you can put your a$$holery tendencies aside and be a good sport?)
But everything we do is online to be judged, reviewed, discussed etc. And this seems to increasingly be the new standard - that it’s all online. I would even argue (at least from my view) that if you didn’t have a reasonable online presence that this ‘gap’ says something in itself, and that left in the void could well be to your disadvantage.
Why do you keep saying BRAND?
Why a disadvantage? And what do I mean by “YOU” are the brand?
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, or a github account, or a blog with your views on technology, or contributing to an open source project… it’s not.
But for something that’s readily available, and free, to shape the impression and profile of you as a technology professional for literally “no money down”, is not utilising these platforms the smart play? These platforms which - if nothing else - would stand as an online resume for your work, your views, your associations (i.e. networks) and skills. I believe that you are missing out on a great opportunity to take control of your future prospects and potential.
While we’re here let’s take a look at what your “brand” looks like on LinkedIn for example:
On LinkedIn there’s more than a resume for people to consume. Sure you have your work history, your qualifications etc, but now this “resume” is open for the whole world to see, whether they want to hire you or just like perusing profiles. And here’s the catch, it all matters because the “its not what you know its who you know” is in effect on a much bigger scale now that we can all see who can do what and who’s been where. So even though this person’s not involved with hiring, they know someone who might need someone like you. And your brand was that effective, it made them pass you on.
“Why do you keep calling it brand when its just a resume?”
Because a resume is a dead-ended pile of papers with lifeless information on it that sits in a pile with other lifeless piles of people information. What you have with our online, real-time or up to the hour profiles is not only this standard, static information, but also our opinions, our articles, our comments, what articles we share or like and who’s in our networks.
If we’re looking at that whole picture of someone, that’s not their resume - that’s their brand.
Because we don’t know them personally (for the most part), we don’t go “way back” with them. We see what they’re putting out, what they’re about, what’s important to them AND what they’ve done or can do - and we can “feel some type of way” about them.
It’s YOUR brand - take it or leave it (up to everyone else)
And we live in a time now where we’re given the responsibility (whether we like it or not) of having a brand. With all the advantage the internet has given us to scale, to do things more efficiently, to find global talents, and share information across the vast network, it’s also engendered new perspectives, thinking and behaviours.
And sure, these new things aren’t all positive and great for society (think increased rates of depression directly proportional to time on Facebook). But this is the new world and we need to learn how to navigate it for the good that can be done with it, and understand and minimise the bad.
And one of those new ways of thinking is that we are all - online at least - a brand. Where I currently work, what I can do for work, what I do in my spare time, what groups I’m involved in, what I believe in etc.
We can do this unconsciously and get caught out with some random twitter post that ends up getting us fired. Or we can understand that this “internet experiment” is real life now (i.e. has real world effects) and we have the choice to behave in a way that puts our best foot forward.
*Sidenote about being honest about your BRAND
This is the era of little to no privacy. If you’re going to lie, or fake it, you’re going to have a hard time keeping that lie going. Everyone’s laundry’s coming out in this era, and it’s probably pretty scary for everyone because you’re going to find out that you’re not as amazing as you make yourself out to be, or think you are. But here’s a little secret - NO ONE IS. If you know you don’t suck at what you do, you can put that out there. If you know your stuff could do with some work, you work on it and get better. Both those scenarios involved honesty, and now your brand either says “has put in the work and has the skills” OR it says “has self-awareness and a willingness to work on weaknesses”. And I think the marketplace has space for both of those kinds of workers.