Reputation Capital, a replacement for the CV?

In any walk of life, trust is an invaluable asset that can be hard to come by.

We’ve all had experiences where we’ve met people who presented as sane, pleasant and reliable people but in time, it became clear they weren’t quite who we thought they were. I’ve been recruiting in one form or other for over 20 years, and I can certainly put my hand up to one or two of my own hires who’ve gone on to surprise me in the wrong ways after a promising first contact.

A big challenge

In recruitment, this has always been the big challenge. How do you construct a process that can dig beneath the veneer of an expensive Hugo boss suit, shiny shoes, a flashing smile and a few little white lies on a CV to uncover the true person, their true self and true values?

Most companies circumvent this via a multi-stage process. Multiple stages in different environments on different days starts to reduce the chance that someone has managed to ‘act’ their way based upon a mask that they will remove once employed. Still, even the companies with the most stringent of processes will likely admit it’s not bulletproof and still they suffer examples of poor hires where people have managed to present themselves as what the company want, rather than what they actually are throughout the interview process.


This is all about to change!

In some ways, I find this as scary as it is exciting. I don’t think I need to persuade you that more than ever now we spend an awful lot of time on the internet. Amongst other things, it’s become the age of sharing. We share stories, pictures, jokes, experiences, our location, our mood….I could go on. In amongst all this, we share reputations. Increasingly, internet interactions, or ‘transactions’, as they are referred to are followed by some form of mutual review. If you buy something on eBay, afterwards you are invited to review the seller. Did they send the item in a timely fashion, was it appropriately packed, was their communication good? At the same time, they review you as a buyer. Did you pay on time, were you polite and accurate with your communication, and so it goes on.


Mutual review

My wife runs holiday accommodation, and one of the places she advertises on is Airbnb. The Airbnb story is a fascinating one well worth looking up if you like entrepreneurial success stories. The concept was simple, to allow people with space in their home to make some money out of it. Whether an annexe, a room or believe or not a sofa in central London, you can find it on Airbnb. When they originally set up, one of the challenges was how to get sets of strangers to trust each other. A homeowner to trust a stranger to stay in their house, and a guest to trust staying in a stranger’s house. The key was a system of mutual review.

Now, when we have guests visiting, if it’s 11 o’clock at night and raining outside, and a message comes through from guests who’ve run out of firewood, we leap up and go out in the rain to fetch more. Not that we wouldn’t, but there’s the constant thought that in the morning they will be leaving and writing a review that will affect our future! Likewise, we find the guests leave the place surprisingly clean and tidy, as they know we will be writing a review that may affect whether they are accepted into future places they wish to stay.

So where am I going with all this? Little by little, we are all leaving trails of our reputation all over the Internet, which collectively could help reveal much regarding our true identity, something which many try to manipulate, massage or conceal in a job process. There are now already a collection of start-up companies such as, TrustCloud, TrustRank and others which help us to aggregate our online reputations with the ability to analyse and correlate data from different sources to create common themes regarding our character. These themes are ultimately created by people that interact with us, not by ourselves, so unlike a CV, it’s pretty hard to manipulate a false reading.


Online life

Imagine a scenario where instead of just scrutinising a CV alongside a smiling candidate at interview you could turn to a source that could correlate everything from the way they conducted their online selling and buying, to their interactions in the last ten places they stayed, in addition to online recommendations on media such as LinkedIn. This would provide current data on things such as honesty, integrity, politeness, reliability, communication skills….as judged by others!

At the moment, it would, of course, be a voluntary process down to a candidate to collect and share such data, so it’s not quite big brother yet. But surely this alone will start to be defining if one individual would willingly volunteer a cross match of all their reputation capital collected across a wide range of online sources versus another who would rather not reveal this? It would be a bit like a candidate leaving a 5-year gap on their CV and explaining simply that they didn’t want you to see that bit!

The exciting bit for me is it makes us all start to think how we build a successful online reputation, as this is clearly of huge value to any business or individual. The answer is there are no shortcuts and will be nowhere to hide. Whatever you consistently display will be noted and recorded for all to see.   Honesty, integrity, reliability and all the other intimate parts of your character will no longer be something you can manufacture on the two-dimensional piece of paper we call your CV. They will be real-life data constructed by real-life interactions with those with whom you’ve interacted.



To answer the original question is, of course, no. CVs wouldn’t become redundant and replaced by reputation capital. However, already we are seeing innovators such as pathbrite and Seelio creating software for people and companies to create rich multi-media platforms to showcase not only skills and achievements as listed on a CV but also include alongside the intricacies and truths of their online reputations. This is dynamite for the future and the success of good, honest and hardworking people, and not so good for people who perhaps talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk, for those, it’s time to shape up!