Every career is bound to have some ups and downs. If your reputation is holding you back or keeping you from landing a promotion, turn adversity into opportunity by rebooting your personal brand.
“Even people with stellar careers need to rebrand themselves every once in a while,” explained Shannon Wilkinson, CEO of Reputation Communications. “People evolve so they need to expand the way they are perceived by their peers and managers. Setbacks are opportunities in disguise.”
That being said, others may view a tech pro’s sudden, dramatic shifts in behavior as disingenuous or contrived. So if you want to rehab your brand, think about executing a series of small, subtle moves that people will pick up on subliminally.
Take responsibility for past mistakes, even if they weren’t totally your fault—otherwise you’re just sweeping problems under the proverbial rug, noted Andy Beal, CEO of Reputation Refinery and author of “Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation.”
“Understanding your weaknesses and vowing to improve are important first steps in restoring your brand and reputation,” he said. “Take feedback to heart and make a sincere effort to improve.”
Change Your Image
Subtle changes to your appearance alter the way people view you. Moreover, they secretly signal that you’re entering a new phase of development or taking your career to the next level. For example, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey has continually upgraded his look to match the evolution of his career and expanding responsibilities at two companies.
But don’t trade your t-shirt and jeans for a suit overnight, Wilkinson advised. Do something less dramatic, such as occasionally donning a blazer or leather jacket, or changing the style of your glasses.
“Have new headshots taken, so people see different images when they search for you online,” Wilkinson said. “Reputation management is about counterbalancing whatever perceptions are out there.”
Upgrade Your Skills
If your technical competence has taken a hit, get an additional certification or complete an online course or bootcamp. Alternatively, solicit alternate opinions and praise by posting code samples on collaborative code-sharing sites such as GitHub.
“Having your skills viewed by a fresh set of eyes can change the way you’re perceived and garner new appreciation for your talents,” Wilkinson noted.
Take your reputation to new heights by offering peer reviews and critiques once you’ve got your mojo back. And note that sharing the lessons you’ve learned with your peers after a poor performance can help to position you as a battle-tested veteran, restoring general confidence in your brand.
Travel in New Circles
If you’re viewed as too introverted for a leadership role, seek comfortable venues and ways to contribute your knowledge. Use small behavior modifications over time to polish your brand. Sweeping changes are hard to execute, Wilkinson said.
“Get involved in new circles; ones you can contribute to in an authentic way,” she suggested. “For instance, offer your expertise to a non-profit that provides technology access and education to underserved communities. It’s not only a reputation-burnisher, it expands your network and gets you out of your immediate peer group.”
Replace Bad Reviews with Good Reviews
Expanding your online presence and replacing out-dated information and professional profiles with new achievements and recommendations can be instrumental in countering negative perceptions and revitalizing your brand, said Pete Kistler, co-founder of BrandYourself.
“Broadcast positive news and facts, blog and update your Website,” he said. “So that when a recruiter or hiring manager researches you online, they find quality content and positive comments at the top of the page.”