Reputation and Character

In any industry, electrical or not, sometimes a reputation and your character are all you have.

Sometimes confused, the dictionary defines reputation as ‘the word which refers to the position one occupies or the standing that one has in the opinion of others’. Character is the ‘combination of moral and other traits which make one the kind of person one actually is’.

Reputation and character begin early in life. Culture, education, role models, amongst others help develop those traits. We can go back to grade school, to see where reputations started to get revealed. In middle school and high school, there were always those that were the ‘teacher’s pets’, ‘troublemakers’, or worse.

As we entered the workforce, most of the time no one knew us so we all started on the same level playing field. Each of us slowly developed our reputations and character; which has turned us into who we are today; for better or worse.

It’s all about perception. If someone has a knack for quickly solving problems, that’s a great reputation to have. If one has a habit of always being late, it’s not a good reputation, but that’s something that could be changed. Character is much more different. It combines all of the traits; both good and bad, along with a history that one has developed over the years, stirs them together and out comes the (hopeful) stellar package that one brings.

When companies are hiring, they have to look at the overall ‘package’ in a person for many reasons. Not only the basic details such as if one can actually do the job, but how well they get along with fellow employees, management and customers. Personality assessments try to determine and predict whether one has what it takes to do a particular job. There is typically a pattern that exists for everyone. If someone was a stellar employee at one company, why should that be any different at another? Except for mitigating factors, there shouldn’t be a huge difference. There always seems to be a pattern in which we can identify certain traits that one will bring. This reputation follows people. Unfortunately not everyone has a Triple-A standing.

Where reputation is brought upon by what others think, the moral qualities, ethical standards and principles are what character is all about. Sure someone can have a ‘reputation’ of always being honest but it’s really the character of what a person is that really counts. In business, as well as in real life, reputations follow us. Until people really get to know us is our character truly revealed.

We all know people with many types of reputations. We react to them based upon what we know or have heard. Unlike credit reports, poor reputations can seldom be wiped clean. It is up to each of us to ensure that we try our best to do the right thing; early on. Building character can take years or a lifetime. Sometimes it’s that easy to just ‘be a good person’.

There’s an old business story in that you never tell your spouse anything negative about a co-worker; because when they finally meet, there’s only the one (negative) side from which to form an opinion. The spouse isn’t ‘allowed’ to see the person as a whole to make their own informed judgment.

We recruiters try to wade through all of the information that we can find; from references, to colleagues to online activities. It’s still amazing what one can find on the internet. There are people that we can’t rightfully recommend to our clients due to information that has been uncovered. As a company, all we have is our reputation. Character comes out when we know that we are doing the right thing for our clients; and for our candidates.

Think about someone that you admire; friend, relative or celebrity. What made them earn your respect? That’s character. Now think about yourself. What qualities do you have that make people admire you? Whether you always take the high road or deal with things another way, your reputation and character are always shadowing you.

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