You couldn't live on your reputation in his department - but we all know of people who can, and do: creative directors with fabulous reputations (and remunerations) whose last great work was in the 1990s; media people (none of us, obviously) who last did any proper work in the job before last, who manage on the basis of being very active on the golf course and/or spend most lunchtimes in The Ivy or The Wolseley.
It can be hard to see through the hype - especially in our industry. Clearly if you're a surgeon and your patients don't make it, it tends to have an impact on your career. Gradually kill a brand by giving lazy advice, or through flabby buying or selling and it's less noticeable in the short term.
Even in football, where statistics abound, there is a tendency for careers to ebb and flow according to reputation. Just examine Finkelstein's guide to the talent in the Premiership (timesonline.co.uk/finktank), which ranks every Premiership player by performance (using, of course, a multivariate Poisson-lognormal model - just as you or I would).
Some detail is lost on me, but it seems inappropriate that England goalkeeper Paul Robinson ranks 402nd out of 403 players.
However, if you play as a football manager in the computer game Pro Evolution Soccer, you have the opportunity to find underrated talent to boost your particular team to win the league on a limited budget.
The game offers an impressive ranking system for both recruitment and deciding who to play in a particular match: mentality, technique, teamwork, aggression, agility, covering, response, reaction. All these factors are measured from 0-100 and you can judge the value of players and new recruits accordingly.
Would you like it if you could rank candidates for a job in the same way by actual skills, rather than by reputation? I'd love a recruitment consultant to provide us with a ranking of potential employees. We're not looking for the same skills for every job, as some roles are about attack and aggression, whereas others are much more about defence and teamwork. Any system that could take some of the guesswork out of recruitment would massively improve our businesses.
- Sue Unerman is chief strategy officer at MediaCom, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published on Media Week