Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on July 9, 2016
Internet and social media have had a big impact on the way we make our purchasing decisions regarding services, products, and travel, as well as our renting and hiring decisions, among others.
For instance, on TripAdvisor or similar applications, we can find what others think of the location, service, cleanliness, ambiance, decoration, and overall quality of the hotels, restaurants, or destinations that we plan to visit. What we read from users who have already gone through the experience is key in helping us decide among the many options available to us.
In Amazon, before we buy a book or any of the millions of products it offers, we can check out what other users say about what we’re browsing. This information is public and available for anyone to see. Taxi services like Uber or Cabify also rate our behavior as passengers, just as we rate our overall riding experience based on the driver’s skills, attitude, car condition, and the like.
Currently, U.S. realty firms such as Redfin award a realtor’s fees based on how good or bad we rate them rather than on the “traditional” fixed percentage fee based on the sale or rental value. There are hundreds of examples of how on-line reputation –however many (or few) stars we award based on our experience– can define the success, longevity, or even failure of virtually every service or product out there.
All of this leads me to believe that there will come a time when professional service providers –which all of us are– will be rated openly and publicly on line before they are hired or promoted. Today, others can give their opinion of us on LinkedIn –although only good things are shown, since we can filter what we want shown as in other social media channels. But, just imagine what it will be like when apps designed to provide public information on others’ satisfaction with our professional results and performance start to pop up. They will be the inescapable and unavoidable digital stage for our personal brand and reputation, like it or not.
No matter our profession –engineer, teacher, economist, administrator, accountant, consultant, executive, supervisor, bank executive, marketer, or advertiser–,the position we hold –business or financial managers, CEOs, or directors–, or the power we have –mayor, congress member, or other authority figure–, anyone with whom we’ve had business or professional dealings will openly give their opinion about the quality of services we have provided them and publicly rate us. Even physicians and lawyers, for instance, are being rated in other countries.
In fact, whenever we require the services of any of the above-mentioned service providers, all we have to do is enter their name in any of those apps to see how they’ve been rated by others.
People will evaluate and rate us for any number of differentiating, technical, or competitive qualities, such as integrity, attitude, expertise, professionalism, honesty, up-to-date knowledge, service quality, effectiveness, charisma, competitiveness, or maturity. The ratings we receive will determine whether potential clients consider us suitable or unsuitable to be hired. And who will award those stars, or not, to our personal brand? Clients, bosses, former bosses, colleagues, collaborators, supervised personnel, and suppliers. Everything will be open for all to see.
Our reputation is already formed in the mind of those around us. Soon it will be available publicly on line. It is never too late to make sure we see five stars next to our personal brand when the time comes –and this will have a huge impact on our reputation and employability.