Last week, a colleague and I gave a presentation at Whitman College to help students transition to alumni and especially to take advantage of Whitman’s alumni network. As part of the presentation we talked about reputation and what it means for the job search.

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

In today’s world of 24 hour access to the Internet and searches that can find anything, there’s really no place for double speak/standards. You are what you do, say and act. And…there’s nowhere to hide. Realizing that employers and others you want to impress review personal blogs and social networks means it’s time to focus on where you want to go in life.

So, how do you figure out who you are and who you want to be in 10 years? I almost always start solving problems by answering some questions.Candles & Heart

  • Who are you?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you believe in?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • What do you most like doing?
  • What do people say you’re good at doing?
  • Do you like doing those things?
  • What about you can help you achieve those?
  • What do you need to learn/do to get there?
  • What can’t you live without doing?

These and other questions you add might help you get a framework started. What else would you ask?

Once you’ve answered these questions and built a framework, take a look back and see if there are things you might need to change in your life or things you might wish had ended differently. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it and change.

Google yourself to make sure there aren’t things out there you wish were hidden. Knowing you can only go forward, consider what you can do to make sure those don’t happen again.

Going forward always test your decisions against the answers you gave to the questions above. Always be true to who you want to be. Consistency and persistence are important. If you’re making choices not in keeping with your decisions, you’ll stray from the path you took so much effort to set.

Patience is a virtue.

This is often the hardest step of all. We want to get to the finish line hours – or years – before we really need to get there. We don’t always realize how much we can learn along the way and how the journey might be different as we make choices from what we learn along the way.

And remember today’s world means there is an increasingly blurred line between your professional and your personal one. Have fun with social networking but post thoughtfully. Think about how your post would look in headlines.

How did you figure out your path in life? What advice do you have for new graduates?

Image: WolfS<3ul