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Poor employer branding: the real reason you're losing out on quality candidates

  • Xaana ARIMA

Why you really need to build a great professional reputation

A positive professional reputation can play a significant role in your career success, opening the door to exciting promotions, one-of-a-kind job opportunities, and, yes, some pay raises along the way too.

Professional reputation vs. professional branding

Okay, be honest: did you think professional reputation and professional branding were the same things? You’re not the only one. While reputation and branding tend to go together, they’re not interchangeable.

Professional reputation is defined as: “Being well regarded, respected by the people in a position to know and have an opinion about you. And as a result, being the go-to person for that solution. Which translates into being in demand.”

Professional branding is defined as: “The process of creating a 'mark' around your name or your career. This is achieved by having specific strengths and messages that people remember about you. It is how you express and communicate your skills, personality, and values—in person and online.”

A tight market, a culture shift

Needless drama? Toxic co-workers? Draining office politics? Nobody’s got time for that! With so many options available to today’s professionals, a large number of current and potential employees are saying, “No thanks!” to any company boasting a less-than-ideal workplace reputation.

As a result, many employers are rethinking both their recruitment and retention strategies, which includes a thorough examination of their current company culture.

To create a more positive working environment, hiring managers are looking for candidates with a history of, well, being awesome to work with. In fact, in a recent LinkedIn poll (link) conducted by Xaana Arima, 50% of respondents said that a not-so-great reputation is something they’d take into account during the hiring process, with 21% answering that they would be “very wary” of hiring this individual – yikes!

To summarise, whether you're just starting or have been in the game for a while, it's never been more important to maintain your workplace reputation.

Building a great professional reputation

Be accountable

Accountability is at the top of our list for a reason: you're not going to win anyone over by avoiding phone calls, missing deadlines, and arriving late to meetings. When you say you're going to do something, follow through. If you make a mistake (hey, we're all human!) accept responsibility and apologise. By demonstrating consistency, reliability, and dependability, you begin to build trust with those you work with, whether they are colleagues, customers, candidates, or clients.

Show your adaptability

What’s that saying – the only constant is change? If the last few years have taught us anything, it's that change is unavoidable, and as much as we may want to dig our heels in and resist it, it's probably a better idea to simply embrace it. If you're working remotely, here are some tips to increase employee engagement. By keeping an open mind as things in the workplace and the world continue to shift and evolve, you demonstrate your adaptability and willingness to learn, which will be greatly appreciated by those around you.

Be a team player

Team players holding each other's hands
Being a team player is essential to building your professional reputation.

It may be as simple as showing up with coffee for your team after everyone has pulled an all-nighter finishing a big project, offering to tackle a task that everyone's been avoiding, or simply asking how you can help. By doing so, you demonstrate to your colleagues that they can rely on you and that you are eager to contribute to the team's overall success in any way you can. Other ideas range from encouraging health and wellness to having fun outside the office.

Stay positive, for the most part

It's nearly impossible to be cheerful all the time, but a positive attitude is always appreciated at work, and showing up with a smile is one of the most underrated ways to make a lasting impression on those around you. So go ahead and commend Michael for staying late to complete an important project, and while you're at it, congratulate Nicole on the fantastic client presentation she hosted yesterday - positive feedback is an excellent motivator and morale booster.

Look out for opportunities to grow

There is always more to learn, no matter how experienced you are! Invest in yourself by accepting opportunities to improve (or learn new) skills throughout your career. Here are some IT skills that may help you excel in your career. This not only broadens your skill set, but also highlights your curiosity, initiative, and commitment to continuous growth, which is great for your boss to keep in mind when considering promotions.

Share thoughts and ideas

This may be difficult for some introverts to hear, but don't remain silent during that company meeting! Having an opinion and voicing it respectfully, of course, shows others that you're genuinely invested in the company and confident in yourself and your role within the team.

Keep your ego in check

To be clear, confidence is essential, and you should advocate for yourself at work; however, be careful not to let confidence turn into arrogance. Avoid talking over people or monopolising conversations by being aware of your expression, tone, and body language. When it's someone else's turn in the spotlight, listen respectfully, stay off your phone and focus on what's being said, even if the subject matter isn't exactly titillating.

Build your network

Take out time to build (and maintain!) a strong professional network. The more genuine positive interactions you have with people, the stronger your reputation will be - so get out there and meet some new people! Checking out industry events in your area is a good place to start. These events, which range from fancy galas and boat cruises to casual gatherings at a coffee shop or local pub, are a great way to meet people in your industry and engage in conversation with other business professionals.

Be kind

Finally, be nice. Try your hardest to be interested in what your co-workers are saying. No, this does not imply that you should devote hours of your life to endless small talk, but it does help to remember key details about your colleagues' lives. Inquiring about Joe's son's piano recital or the family vacation Lucy just returned from goes a long way. Treat others fairly and respectfully, give praise for a job well done, and say please and thank you - after all, after all, doors open for nice people.

Final thoughts

Building an incredible workplace reputation takes time, energy, and ongoing effort; it's a process that you'll never be done fine-tuning, always looking for new ways to improve as you navigate your professional career - and that's kind of exciting. We're willing to bet that wherever your career path takes you, big things are on the horizon.

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