On the second installment of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, talks about the importance of having a career readiness toolkit. She also lists the five things she considers a must when building your own. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready!
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Latesha: What’s up, everyone? Welcome to The Link Up with Latesha. I am your host, Latesha Byrd, and this podcast is for young professionals that need some real deal advice, tips, and resources to navigate corporate America and dominate their career. So if you’re looking to upgrade your brand, get the knowledge you need to level up professionally for your future, you are in the right place. I’m here with Living Corporate, and today we’re talking about your career readiness toolkit. So first off, what is a career readiness toolkit? Essentially it is what you need to be ready for your career at any moment, change, or event that could occur and significantly impact the trajectory of your career. So let me ask y’all this question. How many of us are living life on autopilot? What I mean by that is we are living life on a routine. I’m talking waking up in the morning, getting dressed, going to work, coming home, dinner, bed, maybe a little TV before bed, and then we do it all over again. There’s no planning, there’s no goal-setting. We are just moving on autopilot. Now, that happens to the best of us, where we can get into those routines and get comfortable. We may become a little stagnant. But when it comes to thinking about and handling your career in this manner, it could get a little dangerous. Now, I will explain why, but, you know, don’t get me wrong. Living in the moment and enjoying the present is important, but being prepared for the future is even better, and you can do both. So if you guys have listened to the first couple of episodes you know that I am a career coach, and I talk to hundreds of people 24/7 about their career and their goals and what’s going on in their workplace. Now, 90%–over 90%, actually, of my clients that come to my company for a resume makeover or a LinkedIn makeover, it’s because they need a job ASAP. Like, by yesterday, and they should have gotten their resume and LinkedIn updated a long time ago. But you gotta start somewhere, right? [laughs] Let me be clear here, because this is gonna sting a little bit–you can be great at your job. I mean, I’m talking about killing it. Closing deals, getting ish done. Like, really doing your thing, and you can still get let go. So, again, you could be killing it at work and still be let go. I’ve seen this happen so many times. Now, I don’t want to project any negativity or fear on anyone’s career. That’s not my goal here, but I want everyone to take accountability for your career and to–not to leave your future in someone else’s hands. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. So going back to this idea of career readiness. You know, we hear the term “career readiness.” It’s more so related to doing career readiness programs for you, right? Helping them, young people, get ready for college so that they can transition into a career, but this was the challenging part for me. Career readiness is something that should be continued throughout your career and throughout your life. We should never stop preparing for our careers. I’ve coached people at the age of 23 to 25, 28, 30, 40, over 50. Our career is not just a one-and-done thing that we should just be ready for and stay ready for forever. That’s not how it works, because our career, for most, changes over time. It doesn’t stay the same forever. Now, this is important, because as the industry is changing and growing and emerging, and there’s all these new trends, all these new technologies and tools, mergers and acquisitions, these new hiring practices, you know, with technology that’s coming about. Nothing really stays the same. So our career is not really a linear path for most, so you have to make sure you’re ready at all times. And there are things that may happen that’s out of your control, so you’ve got to be prepared. You’ve gotta stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Another thing I want to note here is that–do you know anyone in your network, or maybe it’s even you, who was poached for an opportunity when you weren’t even looking for a job? You know, some of the best jobs come about when you’re not even looking, especially if you are a high-performer. So it’s something to keep in mind. The other thing too is that, you know, some jobs aren’t really posted, or by the time they’re posted they already know who they’re going to hire for that role. So how can you build your career readiness kit? Or a better question is “What even comes in this career readiness kit?” So I have five things here that I want to share. The first in this whole kit is a resume. Now, I know you may be thinking, like, “Duh. Already know that.” But I mean an updated resume. You know, you should keep your resume updated, really at least quarterly, you know? What happens sometimes is that we wait to update our resume, you know, when we just are in dire need. We may do it in a rush, you know? And then the other thing too is that it is hard to remember what you did in a position two years ago, three years or five years ago, or heck, even last year, so making sure that you’re keeping it updated on a regular is gonna be extremely important. Second is a LinkedIn. Now, I’m sure you’re like, again, “Duh. I know that.” But not just a LinkedIn where you have a–you log in and then boom, there’s your profile and your picture, but I mean a well-built-out LinkedIn that is SEO-optimized, every section is complete, there are recommendations, your skills and endorsement sections are updated. Like, your LinkedIn should be a 10. Now, the reason why this is important is because your LinkedIn can be just as impactful in your career, if not more, because people may see your LinkedIn profile before they even see your resume. You know, it’s one of those things where, now in 2019, over 90% of recruiters are using LinkedIn to source talent, and so they may see your profile first before they even see your resume, but you have to make sure that your resume is–excuse me, you have to make sure your LinkedIn is the bomb so that when they reach out they will request your resume. So they kind of go hand-in-hand. You need your LinkedIn just as much as you need your resume. Now, the third is a network. Again, if you are living life on auto-pilot or if you are comfortable at your job you may not be in the practice of networking regularly, so you definitely want to continue to make sure you’re building your network, not just within your organization but within your industry. When it comes to finding a job, people hire people. This is something that I really harp on. People hire people. So what I’m saying there is if you’re in this job search game, if you are just applying to jobs online that you find, you’re doing it wrong. Go out and meet people. Get out of your comfort zone, and get to know those in your industry that could be some great contacts for you. You never know who you may need in the future or how you may be able to help them. So the fourth thing is your brand. It’s important to have a clear brand. Someone should be able to, one, see you online, right, or talk to you even in person and understand clearly how you show up in the workplace. How do you contribute to, you know, society through your career? That should be clear, and you have to make sure people know “Oh, okay, yeah, this is Sam over here. He is a bomb software engineer. He’s doing X, Y, and Z.” Boom. Someone should know what your brand is, right? Because your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. The last thing in this toolkit is confidence. So why is confidence important? Listen, I’m a former recruiter, and so I’ve met some really great–really great rock stars on paper, but then when we talk, you know, via an interview, they’re very nervous, or they can’t really elaborate or clarify, you know, about their work experience confidently. So listen, if you’re not confident in yourself, who’s gonna be confident in you? All right. So let me just kind of go down the list again in this toolkit. One is a resume, updated resume. Two is a bomb LinkedIn. Three is your network. Four is having a brand, and then five is having confidence. So that’s all I have. Again, this is The Link Up with Latesha with Living Corporate. Thank you guys so much for listening, and have a great day.