Managing your profile may seem like a full-time job these days and in the virtual world where you can look anybody up it is very easy for profile to be built by others, of you, without your engagement.
So I’m going to share some thoughts on professional profile management. It is important to acknowledge that these are just my opinions and do not constitute any formal advice but a reflection of over 15 years in the NHS as a doctor.
As a minimum if people know your name they can look you up on the GMC register which will show your name, clinical practice status, specialist register entry, educational supervisor accreditation and any other history. From the information available your place of work will be evident, your age can be crudely estimated and your status evaluated.
Further searches of names will take you to posters, presentations, newspaper articles, social media profiles and others. This is why I think managing your professional profile is important. I’ve written separately on Social Media, but for the purposes of this page the focus is on what you need try to do online and how do you want to present yourself.
One of the key things in any industry is reputation. Certainly in medicine having a good reputation is important as a trainee/locum when rotating around hospitals but also as a substantive clinician where your reputation will impact how your patients and colleagues view you.
When considering my own professional profile, I have used LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Google Scholar to maintain my academic and professional activities online. I use it as an opportunity to engage with others but also demonstrate my activity. This website is an opportunity for me to share a more personalised version of myself. Hopefully reading through this section on Training you get a sense of my enthusiasm for facilitating the professional development of others. I am on twitter, I try mainly to use it for general banter and a bit of discussion but nothing to polarising hopefully (though with social media everything has the potential to become polarising!)
A key issue that many doctors have is that they are often pushed into not appreciating their own achievements. Once I applied for a post where I gave my application form to a Medical Director and to a Finance Director. The Medical Director suggested my application was arrogant but the Finance Director said I was really underselling myself. I took the Finance Directors advice and feedback and secure the post I applied for. The key thing with your profile and how you present yourself is to acknowledge and be proud of your achievements, but remain humble and reflective. Stating that you’ve done something, or achieved something is not arrogant if it is a fact from which you can demonstrate personal and professional growth.
Developing portfolio careers is also a part of the changing landscape of healthcare. Presenting yourself as a well-rounded individual with interests, beliefs, opinions outside of medicine is common but you have to be aware of it backfiring. We’ve seen plenty of influencers who win public support when they share vulnerable stories but then an ill-timed venture put onto social media ruins whatever positive response they had.
Overall, remember that your reputation will be one of the most important things that you will trade on. If your reputation gets sullied in any way then you have to work hard to get it back. I would never advocate people being silenced but as adults in a professional world we have to bear in mind that our beliefs, opinions, attitudes, behaviour could impact how we are perceived and this may impact job prospects for the future.
An interesting viewpoint that came up during my training was that during preparation for consultant interviews one of the key questions that everyone on the panel will be asking themselves is whether or not the person they are interviewing is someone they can work with for the next 20+ years. Also your entire specialty training period is like one big interview, so reputation matters.