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When Playing a Round Becomes a Career Hazard

December 3, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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One of the keys to writing a blog that people actually want to read is to take current events and somehow apply them to your topic. I’ve tried to do this when I can – writing about Susan Boyle (the importance of looking past the exterior of a job seeker), Farrah Fawcett (how to handle adversity with dignity), the HIMSS conference (how to write a killer thank you note). Sometimes this technique is easier to employ than others. Take this week’s events, for instance. Please. Actually I’ve waited a few days to see who on the predominantly male blogger team here at HCI would step up and take this week’s events and somehow use them for the common good. But here it is, almost the end of the week ... and not a peep from the chickens men. So, okay, guys, I gave you your chance.

WHAT THE HELL, TIGER?

Unless you've been submerged in a deprivation tank for the last week, you know that Tiger Woods is involved in a personal scandal involving mistresses and panic-filled voice mails and a wrecked Cadillac, fire hydrant and palm tree. For the purposes of this blog, I’m not going to comment on Tiger Woods' personal life – that’s certainly none of my business (although, Elin, if you’re reading this – we drank to you at Girl’s Night Out last night). Instead, I’m going to use Tiger’s “transgressions” as a continuation of last week’s blog, providing one more example of how today’s technology can easily pair up with bad judgment to destroy a personal or professional brand in the blink of an eye. Or in this case in the sound of a voice mail, send of a text message or snap of a camera phone. Sure, Tiger is the ultimate example of a personal and professional brand – arguably one of the most recognized brands in the world, but we can all learn from the lessons he’s (hopefully) learning this week.

How so? You may not be a spokesperson for Nike, or Buick, or TAG Heuer (although if you’re interested, there may be some openings soon), but you are paid to be a spokesperson for your employer’s brand. And the staff you hire? They become brand extensions of not only your employer, but of you, as well. The importance of this brand to your company’s bottom line should not be underestimated. The real truth is, between voice mail, camera phones, text messages, Twitter, blogs, and all the rest of the invasive apps our current technology has to offer, life has become virtually transparent, as there are very few places where you are truly “behind closed doors.”

If you’re actively seeking a new opportunity, you can be sure that your potential employers are Googling you for incriminating evidence, reading your Tweets, scanning Facebook for photos showing bad judgment, and checking out those references (or lack thereof) on LinkedIn to learn more about the “real” you. Even if you are happy in your current position, it’s crucial that you always think of yourself as a passive job candidate – a passive job candidate with opportunities around each and every bend, if you consciously work to maintain and uphold an ethical and respectable personal and professional brand. Like it or not, the ability of technology to record our “private lives” – whether we’re at work on break, having a meltdown after missing a flight, or away from home on a business trip -- has now forced us to maintain a higher level of decorum (if we want to be successful), and perhaps that’s not a bad thing. And if we don’t? Well ... just ask Tiger and his putter.

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Comments

Gwen, I applaud you for having the guts to touch on this very dicey topic. Now, more than ever, all of us truly are passive job candidates any situation can turn on a dime at any given moment. So it's critical to always tend to your brand.

And if people don't think they're competitors aren't lurking around the corner seeking any opportunity to get a leg up, they're fools.

Great posting, as always. And as a sports fan, I'm intrigued by the whole subject. When are these guys going to realize that they are public figures who need to guard their public image like hawks?! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to snap a photo of A-Rod for a 6-figure payout from U.S. Weekly.

Gwen: Tiger's brand was THE gold standard before last week. His value to companies that he endorsed was demonstrated in the very large checks they paid him every year. It will be interesting to see if the large endorsements stick given that Tiger has fallen below the gold line in his brand equity. He is a very smart and talented guy, no doubt. This however, is not his finest moment.

Gwen Darling

CEO, HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling

@HealthcareITJob

www.HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling serves as an online HIT matchmaker, bringing together qualified Healthcare IT...