If someone asked you for three words that sum up your reputation, what would you say?

How would other people describe your judgments, your knowledge, your behaviors in various situations?

In a recent TED Talk, The Currency of the New Economy is Trust, author Rachel Botsman explains why the answers to these questions are becoming profoundly important.

She explains that we are in an age where your reputation will soon be your most valuable asset.

Career-wise, it used to be that your resume was your most valuable asset. In many cases, it was the sole vehicle used to measure whether or not you were hire-worthy.

We already know this is no longer the case.

As social media use has exploded, a hiring manager can now do some minor detective work via Google to supplement your resume. And yes, maybe even to rule you out entirely.

But that’s not exactly what Botsman is talking about when she says, “Reputation data will make the resume seem like an archaic relic of the past.”

She’s saying that someday not too far away – although there are still a number of details to be worked out – our online reputations will become the primary vehicle for others to evaluate us.

Even in offline situations like banking and job hunting.

An expert on Collaborative Consumption – the power of sharing through network technologies – Botsman gives examples of businesses like airBnB, WhipCar, and TaskRabbit.

These communities essentially connect strangers into doing business together. Afterward, the individuals involved submit reviews on one another, creating reputations based on actual behavior and performance.

Botsman says that the real magic behind the collaborative consumption marketplace isn’t inventory or money, it’s using the power of technology to build trust between strangers.

“Businesses like these are built on personal relationships, versus empty transactions,” she states. “Trust and efficiency are always the critical ingredients.”

While you might have difficulty seeing how an online reputation could actually replace the type of information you present on your resume, check out sites like Stack Overflow or Quora. These communities have reputation structures based on their users’ demonstrated skill sets, and according to Botsman, they have gained the attention of recruiters.

And because reputation is the measurement of how much a community trusts you, Botsman foresees that the future will be driven by an effective aggregation of reputation.

Possibly with each of us having ownership over some kind of “reputation dashboard” that paints a picture of our reputation capital.

She calls it “a priceless window into how someone really behaves and what their peers think of them.”

3 Quick Things You Can Do to Help Your Career Reputation

1. Ask for a LinkedIn recommendation. Because what your peers, clients, and managers have to say about you carry much more weight than what you can say about you. Feel free to suggest a particular trait or skill of yours for your reviewer to focus on if they’d like some guidance.

2. Regularly Participate on Quora, answering questions related to your career field. While helping someone who posted a question, you get to showcase your knowledge and experience to a wide audience. Who knows what kind of connections you might make along the way?

3. Create your own “reputation dashboard.” Buy your personal domain name (firstnamelastname.com) and use it to highlight your career accomplishments along with any reputation data you’re already developing in online communities. This approach might duplicate the content of your linked in profile, but it gives you much greater flexibility to showcase your skills, abilities, and online activities.

Here’s Botsman’s full TED Talk, The Currency of the New Economy is Trust. Enjoy!


Image courtesy of Terry Johnston