Michael Sterling

How’s Your Career Cred? A 5-Step Reputation Checklist


Whether you’re early in your career or high on the ladder, your reputation is the foundation of your personal brand. So, let’s get straight to the point – how’s your ‘Career Cred?’ Like ‘Street Cred’, Career Cred is how other professionals view you – your popularity and acceptance by your professional peers. In short – it’s your professional reputation.


How do you build and keep a good reputation?


In the past, guarding a reputation was fairly easy. Your reputation was defined by those who you dealt with in person. As author Rob Brown notes in his book, Build Your Reputation: Grow Your Personal Brand, professionals used to be able to manage their “Hallway Reputation” within a limited number of daily contacts. Today we interact with hundreds – even tens of thousands – of professionals via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and email.


Today, reputations are made and lost based upon how people we’ve never met view us. To develop and maintain solid Career Cred, it’s important to assess if we’re following the ground rules.


A 5-Step Reputation Checklist


  1. Are you transparent? Are you upfront and open with your communication, expectations and goals? Business transparency in today’s world is a must. Misunderstandings and behind door deals can tarnish a reputation quickly. Be forthcoming and provide full disclosure. Equally important, stay clear of anyone who doesn’t offer the same. Someone or something which seems too good to be true often has the biggest business risk attached.
  2. Are you quick to respond? In our digital world, things change in an instant. Be responsive. Clients want real-time information. On-line comments can make or break you in a heartbeat. How quickly you respond to to the good and the bad is critical. Communicate promptly with your clients, handle the haters, and stay poised to be pro-active.
  3. Do you make lemonade from lemons? Turn challenges into opportunities. It’s how you handle the bad situations that can truly make your reputation great.
  4. Are you good to your word?  If you say it, mean it. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be honest, set realistic expectations and always follow through. Complete the project. Return the phone call. The smallest commitments do matter. If you stay true to your word, you will earn the trust and respect of your colleagues.
  5. Do you own it? Taking responsibility and being accountable mean more than just acknowledging an issue. This requires entrepreneurial thinking. You may not have caused the situation, but you may need to be the one who steps forward to identify the issue, recommend a resolution and then follow through on the fix.


A stellar reputation takes time to build, but no time to ruin.  As a career coach, working exclusively with Public Accountants, I regularly ask professionals to honestly ask themselves these five questions. Being able to check each item on the list with confidence will keep career momentum on track.


Interested in more career nutrition? Check out the Career Wellness section of the SterlingFreeman website.  And connect with me on LinkedIn.


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