Personal branding and reputation management are about promoting that which is authentic, compelling and relevant to a target audience. However, more

man hiding_VEERand more I notice people “cleansing” their online profiles, scrubbing out all personality from their resumes and watering down their passion from interviews in an attempt to be more marketable.

Recently, I was recently doing online due diligence to assess a client’s reputation in his field. I came across the standard LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter accounts, company biography and headshot, alumni announcements of career successes, and so on. It all gave me the impression this person was successful, networked and accomplished, professionally. It was only after digging quite a bit deeper (using some tools I have), that I came across a profile he’d set up where he described himself as a “loving father, christian man and avid open-water sailor…” In this profile he talked about the things that were important to him and showed photos of his beautiful family enjoying quality time together. He shared the journey to become skilled in sailing challenging environments, and why he connected personally with nature. He wrote with a humor and style that made me want to learn more. He became a real person to me on that profile.

In another situation, I coached a recently retired Air Force Captain at a military veterans job fair. He had an outstanding resume of expertise and skills in the IT field. As he began sharing his resume with me, the lists of certifications, training and experience became blinding to one missing piece: Why? Why did he spend this much of his career learning Information Technology? What do IT systems mean to him? Where is the passion stemming from?

We discussed this at length. As he shared his love for all things IT (he views the IT director role as a customer-facing, brand ambassador position) he differentiated himself. He became interesting and compelling as a specialist but more so as a person and advocate for an employer’s company. The “what” is his skill and training. The “why” is his passion and interest in the field.

As you review your online and in person positioning, consider whether you’ve played it safe and stripped away your personality. Your character, style, demeanor and personality add to your ability to build relationships and make yourself desirable to a potential (and current!) employer. Let’s not lose that.