The key to a good reputation

For those that remember the classic late 80’s/early 90’s Head & Shoulders Commercials…

Their slogan (while corny), was pretty true. You never do get a 2nd chance to make a first impression.  Well, very rarely, if at all.  While initial impressions is a cornerstone for laying the foundation of a good reputation, the real key to having a great reputation is longer term and focuses on what NOT to have… BUTs!

I recently was promoted at work.  It was a pretty rigorous hiring process and I really had to convince my new boss to take a risk in hiring me. After being selected for the position, my boss mentioned that besides the quality of my interview (and of a couple assignments he had me complete), the thing that set me apart from the other candidates was what other people said about me when he went around asking.

To this day I am not sure who all my boss spoke with.  I do know that it was more than just previous supervisors and people I put down in references… sometimes hiring managers will investigate with people you never thought they would.  In the process of doing this, my boss mentioned that he uncovered one unique thing about me:  that there were no BUTs.  He explained that normally when investigating a candidate he would hear things like, “she is a fantastic strategic thinker and leader, but…” followed by some kind of issue (whether big or small).

Despite their positive traits, it was the BUTs that really hurt them.  Besides coming in different sizes, BUTs can come from many places. They can come from old bosses, peers, direct reports, human resource managers, administrative support, even someone you worked on that one company community service project.  The key is to make sure that you leave a positive impression of yourself with everyone you come in contact within a professional environment (although you should note that sometimes it goes beyond people you have come across in a professional setting, you could have mutual acquaintances from your social circles).  This is easier to do than you think… You don’t need to formalize a plan to impress everyone, just be professional, be courteous and be yourself.

Plus, make sure to monitor any BUTs that may surface. If you see a possible issue, address it with that person; no matter who the party is so that rumors don’t fester (which generally leads to exaggeration).

Jumping back in the time machine, and putting it another way… Don’t be like Sir-Mix-a-Lot. Don’t like BUTs (whether “big” or not)- “I cannot lie” about that. Your BUTs could be the difference when you’re up for that promotion.


About Young Professional's Edge (YP Edge)

Aaron McDaniel is a corporate manager, entrepreneur, author, public speaker and community leader. Aaron has held numerous management roles at a Fortune 500 company, being appointed Regional Vice President at the age of 27, and is the founder of multiple entrepreneurial ventures. He is also the author of the book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World ( Aaron instructed a highly rated student-led course on leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas Undergraduate School of Business and has a book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top, due to be out later this year. Aaron offers advice that helps young professionals build the foundation for a successful career. Visit his blog, to learn more.

Posted on August 24, 2011, in Lessons Learned, Solid Advice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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