Well, in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last week (or are not in the US), the incessant news this week circles around the New England Patriots football team embroiled in a cheating controversy. As a staunch Patriots fan, I’m bummed, if for no other reason, the case has been tried in the media, and court of public opinion has spoken. The reason this is getting so much press (other than that it’s apparently a slow news week in general!) is that the Patriots have a history of bending/breaking the rules of the game. At this point the actual truth is quite irrelevant and the damage has been done.
I am guessing, (but pretty confident) that the reality is, only a select few had any hand in deflating the footballs. Yet the entire team is now (further) tainted. And that brings me to the business angle on all this. There’s no difference if you work for a cheating football organization, were involved in Healthcare.gov, or Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities – there’s a “guilt by association” that’s undeniable. For better or worse. The culture and reputation of the companies you work for are many times ascribed to you.
So the message here is to be aware of what people are saying about your employer. Do you look at Yelp reviews? Glassdoor? MyVisaJobs? (I’m sure there are about a dozen other too….). Regardless of your personal experience, work ethic, performance, or ability to influence the external perception of your company, at least be aware of what others may think about you based on the logo on your business card. Obviously this can work to your benefit too: I know of several people who made it very far through a hiring process simply because they worked for a certain company, even though their job had nothing to do with what the company was renowned for. And if you are in the market, and your previous employer had a notable reputation, use that information. Was the company known as a cut-throat political minefield? Be prepared to talk about how that experience molded you and what you learned from your time there. Were they known as very progressive, forward thinking and visionary? Same thing: regardless of your place in the ecosystem, be ready to speak to how that rubbed off on you.
Your personal brand is a collection of who you are, how you project yourself, and where you’ve been. Everyone will have a preconceived notion of you based on the resume you send out, so if that perception isn’t what you want it to be – be aware of what you’ll have to overcome, and take action.
And if you do happen to work for the New England Patriots franchise, try to move the conversation towards Super Bowl rings, and away from bicycle pumps.