The word credibility can be an emotive word – in its simplest terms it means evidence or a proven track record at doing a particular task. That can vary from an experienced professional footballer that plays in goal and their credibility demonstrated by a record of 121 clean sheets in 200 matches (let in no goals) vs. the former CEO of a blue chip multi-national organisation who has demonstrated their skills at the top of their game in the good times and the bad.
Both these examples imply one thing – that the person has been around for a while, they have built up a history of successes and probably failures during their career.
By looking at the dictionary definition of the word credibility the language used refers to trust and being “believed in” or the quality of being convincing or believable. So how then does someone have or gain credibility in an area where they have little previous exposure or are simply younger and new into the marketplace?
This is the environment where there is potential to stand out and become creative to compensate for a perceived weakness on paper or in time in the job. Sadly this is also the area when on occasions, ethics, morals and integrity can become blurred and some individuals bend the truth and become false or guilty of lying.
The key uniqueness of anyone, be they a 25 year veteran in the industry or one of 132 graduates trying to join a graduate training programme at Jaguar Land Rover, is the individual. In all situations from winning new business, applying for a job or opening a bank account the only thing that separates us from everybody else is us, no one else can be you.
Credibility can be reflected by your authenticity, trustworthiness, reputation to deliver on time all (or most) of the time. A history that is able to demonstrate the likelihood of engaging with the individual has a high probability of working out well.
Changing career path or target audience does not mean that all previous credibility is now lost, there is evidence of a proven track record that will support the character of the individual. Just as with a student trying to gain their first role it’s their extracurricular activities, sports and hobbies, or their charity, drama and community work that will make them stand out in a crowded market. Consider the true story of the hospitality graduate who neglected to include on their CV that they had high level security clearance that allowed them to work at Buckingham Palace at the garden parties. They had the same degree as everyone else, similar grade, similar age but one very unique difference that immediately demonstrated credibility and a serious uniqueness. Needless to say he added in the information and was snapped up very quickly by an employer upon graduating.
Nobody likes to make mistakes or errors in judgement, we all try to get it right first time, be that trusting in the right expertise, skill-sets or products when buying a new washing machine or employing a new Managing Director. The thing we look at to help us make these decisions is the individual’s or the product’s credibility.
Credibility must be earned, it can’t be fabricated, made up or falsified, and authenticity, trust and integrity will always come through. It’s up to you to demonstrate your credibility as best and as often as you can.