On the seventeenth entry of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, digs into five career mistakes that we could be making that we will not want to carry forward with us in 2020. She also shares what she believes to be the biggest thing that’s holding us back from achieving what we want to in our careers and how to combat it.
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Latesha: What’s up, everyone? Welcome to The Link Up with Latesha on Living Corporate. This podcast is for young professionals that need some real advice, tips, and resources to navigate corporate America and dominate their career. 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 your host, Latesha Byrd. So let’s get into today’s episode. We are going to be digging into the five mistakes in your career that you could be making that you will not want to carry forward with you in 2020. So I know everyone is super excited about the new year, or maybe even feeling burnt out [laughs] being at the end of 2019 and just ready for a new, fresh beginning. I know that’s how I feel. Things have been really crazy on my end. I moved recently into a two-bedroom and moved my office that I had back home, so now I have a home office, and all while moving I’ve had about five speaking engagements and enrolling new clients, coaching clients, in January. So things have been, like, a whirlwind for me, but, you know, I’m very excited and looking forward to all of the new clients I’ll be working with, as well as just, you know, turning over a new leaf, you know? We’ll be entering a new decade, a new year. It seems that with the recent conversations I’ve been having with a lot of people is around leveling up for 2020, you know? We talk about this term leveling up, and the question is what does that really mean, right? Like, what does leveling up mean? What does that look like to you? It’s so easy for us to compare ourselves to what other people are doing, you know, in their careers and say, “Man, they’re doing this and that, and I don’t have this yet,” or kind of looking at other folk’s situations in a sense of or in a state of maybe a little bit of jealousy or, you know, wishing that we were in their shoes, but understand that we are all on this journey together. We’re all out here just trying to make it, and with that being said, over the past couple of weeks I’ve had some really intense conversations with working professionals that are ready to make some changes, fundamental changes, in their career, where they can finally be free and be happy and, you know, just love and enjoy the work that they’re doing while being fairly compensated for it. And in the midst of these conversations, I found myself giving a lot of encouragement, and one thing that I’ve realized and that I think is the biggest thing that’s holding us back from achieving what we want to in our careers is fear. Literally fear. Fear can be crippling, and the first–and so I’m gonna go ahead and jump into these five mistakes, because I think they’re so important for us to make sure we’re not carrying forward into 2020, so I’m excited to kind of jump right into these. The first one is feeling stuck. Man, every time I have a conversation with someone about making a change in their career, for some reason they feel stuck or they’re in a career rut. What I mean by that is, you know, maybe you know that where you are is not where you want to be long term. You’ve been fed up with their situation. You don’t like going into work. [laughs] You don’t have a good relationship with your boss, with your coworkers. You don’t even enjoy the work that you do, and the only thing that’s keeping you there is the paycheck because you have bills to pay, you have mouths to feed, and, you know, student loans. Like, [?] does not care about your situation. [laughs] So a lot of us feel stuck, but understand that stuck is a–being stuck is a choice, you know what I’m saying? Being stuck is a choice. You choose if you want to sit there. It’s like running in a race, okay? Like, you’re running in a race and you get tired, okay? Like, you stop running. That is a choice, guys. We are never stuck in our careers, ever ever ever, and I wish that word didn’t even exist. [laughs] That’s how much I hate that word. You’re not stuck. You’re letting fear cripple your beliefs on the many options that are available to you. You’re not stuck. You’re letting fear cripple the belief that you have many options available to you. And sometimes that fear can make us feel like we don’t have anything else better we could be doing with our time, with our lives. We just have to suck it up and do this job. It is not the 1960s and 70s, okay? I remember my grandma and my grandad used to tell me, “Baby, you just stay in that job and keep your head down and you go to work every day, you don’t fuss and complain, and you take that check home, and you take care of your bills, and you do what you gotta do.” Like, mm-mm. It is about to be 2020, okay? I’m not saying that you just need to jump ship. The first step is committing to not staying stuck and checking feelings versus facts. If you have great experience, if you’re talented, if you have a great skill set, you are never stuck in your career. You just have to really sit down, focus, and hone in on “What are the different options that are available? Okay, I know I don’t like what I’m doing now. What would I like to do next?” The other thing too is that if you don’t know what it is that you don’t want to do, that is actually getting you closer to figuring out what it is that you do want to do. With that being said, you know, when I’m working with my clients through helping them identify career paths, we literally start with “What is it that you don’t want?” And sometimes you learn these things through experience. I often speak on how job search, career development, all of that is so similar to dating, so I may use some comparisons in this podcast episode tonight. You know, let’s say I’ve–and, you know, we’ll say that we don’t date certain signs, right? Like, I know I do not want to date a Gemini. [laughs] Because I have dated a Gemini before and I just thought he was crazy. [laughs] Like, “What side of the bed is he waking up today on? I don’t know, child.” So with that being said, I don’t want to date Gemini men. [laughs] But seriously, when it comes to your career, think about the things that you don’t want, and that typically comes from the experiences of what you went through. Maybe it was a boss that just had a super–was checking in all the time, a micromanager, you know? Maybe you were in a client-facing role and you realized like, “I don’t want to work with people every single day,” you know? Those are things that you can decide that you don’t want and that is perfectly okay, because what happens is you’ll start to narrow down your options and make them more specific. So 1. you’re not stuck, all right? #2. not networking. I want you to go into 2020 with a plan, a networking plan. If you can over the holiday break, make a list of the people that you have not talked to in a while. Make a list of people that you would like to get to know a little bit better in your industry or even outside of your industry. When we think about networking, here’s the thing – sometimes it feels forced. It doesn’t feel genuine. It feels like you’re using people. But networking is a way to, you know, strategically advance your career by making sure you’re in the right spaces, making sure you’re in the right conversations to grow you, to stretch you, to allow you to learn from others and to learn new things. Networking doesn’t stop when you get a job. I see it a lot, where, you know, we maybe networked a lot, you know, until we got into our new job, and then after that we just stopped. We stopped checking in with our contacts. We stopped going to networking events, and now maybe two years, three years in, you look around and “Dang,” you know, now you’re thinking, “I want to look at a new job. I want to see what other opportunities are out there for me. Time to start networking again.” That is not–[laughs] That’s not the best mentality to have around networking, because networking isn’t just a one-and-done thing. Networking isn’t just going to one event and sending an email saying, “Hey, nice to meet you,” and that’s it, right? So networking is actually building genuine relationships, building mutually beneficial relationships. If there are people that you admire in your industry that you know personally, start reaching out to them. This is a great time around the holidays to just check in and say, “Hey, hope all is well. You crossed my mind. Happy holidays. Let’s connect in the new year.” Continue to network, and that is something that you don’t want to stop doing. Also find organizations that you can be involved in, professional associations. Maybe you like to volunteer. You know, just continue to find ways to network, because if you are only seeing and talking to the people that you work with every single day, you’re not really learning what else is–unless you, you know, do a lot of research or something like that, you’re not really in a space to learn and know what’s going on in your industry. So, you know, not networking is #2. #3 is not negotiating. Not negotiating. I want y’all to know everything is negotiable in 2020, so we are going for these bonuses, these raises. We are going for these promotions. If you are getting a new job, you have to negotiate. And it’s as simple as asking the question “Is there room for more in this budget? Do you have more flexibility?” I have a salary negotiation course on my website LateshaByrd.com/shop. 60% discount code is GETTHECOINS. So there are a lot of resources available for salary negotiation. If you’ve listened to one of the earlier podcasts that I did with Living Corporate, you know, we talked about negotiating salary, so check it out. Check it out, but, you know, start asking the questions. Start negotiating for more. Not negotiating for a new job can set you back for success years and years and years down the road. Typically you’ll see that annual bonuses or annual raises are based on your base salary. Maybe 3%. Everybody gets, like, the average 3%, [laughs] which is so annoying. And companies will also act like they’re doing you a huge favor if they give you a bonus or if they give you, you know, a little raise here and there, but keep in mind that you are a prize, that you are a valuable organization to that organization, and you deserve what you deserve. So with that being said with negotiating, you also want to always kind of keep your eyes and ears open to the streets–no, okay, I’m kidding. Not the streets, [laughs] but you kind of want to keep your eyes and ears open to the industry to see “What is the going rate for someone with my experience, with my background, with my skill set?” And, you know, just monitor and make sure that you are getting compensated fairly for what you’re worth. If you have not done that before, take some time to do that over the holiday break, and then in 2020 devise a plan that you can have with your management or leadership to discuss how you can start to get paid fairly for what it is that you do. #4 is not setting goals and living life on auto-pilot. It is so easy for us to wake up, go to work, you know, pick up the kids from daycare or from school, come home, cook dinner, go to sleep. Maybe watch a show or two. And that’s it, and you do it over and over and over and over again. That’s a dangerous place to be in. Complacency is a dangerous place to be in. Don’t live your life on auto-pilot. I talk to so many folks who have been living their lives on auto-pilot, and then they wake up five years later they look up and they’re like, “Oh, I am in the same place that I was five years ago. I don’t even know how that happened.” We get so consumed with life and maybe have to take care of children, take care of parents and older family members, you know, just taking care of everyone else but ourselves. If you make time to, you know, go to the gym, you have time to work on your fitness goals. You do a devotional in the morning, so you have time to work on your spiritual goals. Set some time aside to work on your career goals, even if it’s, you know, 15 minutes, 30 minutes in the morning reading, reading articles on trends going on in your industry, reading things on what it takes to actually start a business. Whatever it is, you need to set some time aside for your professional and your career journey outside of your 9-to-5. Okay? And so start setting some goals. It doesn’t have to be “I’m gonna make, you know, $200,000 in my business,” or “I’m gonna launch my business and do a 20K launch.” It doesn’t have to be that deep, but even if it’s small goals, you know? So, like, for example, maybe it is a goal for you to get your first client in the first month of the year or get your first client, get your first three clients in Q1. It could be something as simple as that. But start setting some goals. Hold yourself accountable. Think about getting a career coach and invest in yourself. You invest in everyone else. You invest in those around you. But who is actually taking the time to invest in you? So #5, leaving it up to your employer to tell you what your goals are, to tell you what your value is and to manage your career for you. That is not how it works. Companies will make you think that’s how it’s supposed to work, but I’m here to tell you that is not how it should be at all. You know? You will want to continue, or start to if you haven’t, keep track of your own performance metrics. If you don’t know what those performance metrics are, maybe your company doesn’t track them, track them on your own, you know? When I was in recruiting, no one came, you know, after me and said, “Well, how many candidates did you bring in for this interview? How many took the job offer? How many phone screenings did you have? How many offers were accepted?” No one really asked me that. It was just like we had our goal, we had our hiring goals, we met the goals… cool. That was it. [laughs] But at the end of the day I still kept my own goals. So I can tell you right now how many people I hired, what positions I hired them for, how many interviews, what the offer acceptance rate was–now that was probably one thing that we did really track well, but outside of that it was pretty much it, and so I tracked all of those on my own. Start tracking your goals on your own. If you’re not having regular meetings with your boss or the folks that are in charge of your growth and development at the company, start setting up those meetings with them. Set up meetings with those decision-makers. Make sure the right people at your job know your work. They know what you’re doing well and you’re getting feedback regularly. So I hope that you guys found this helpful. The other thing I’ll say with that last thing is maybe there’s some trainings and skills that you want to brush up on. Present that to your company. Ask them for a professional development budget, you know? Start asking them for what you need to grow in your career and think beyond your current situation. if you don’t know what it takes to move up in the company, start asking those questions and figuring out what it does take. You know, I’ve talked about this if you’ve listened to the former episode when I went through performance evaluations and I said “You should get there and there should not be any surprises,” right? What I mean by that is if there are performance issues, you know, if there’s good feedback or bad feedback, you should know this stuff before walking into the performance review. If you’re proactively managing your reputation and you’re getting that feedback, requesting that feedback regularly, you should not be walking in with any surprises. That also goes both ways. If you’re walking into this performance review and telling your boss just now that you want a promotion and they’re surprised, that… that should not happen. Start sharing your goals with the people that need to hear them and help them help you. This is all about proactively managing your career. So that’s what I have. Let me run down the list of the five things again. #1 is feeling stuck. Remember, you are not stuck. You just haven’t fully thought about the options that are available to you. #2 is not networking. In 2020, we’re gonna network, network, network, because networking is an ongoing thing. Again, it’s about building, establishing, nurturing, growing those relationships, mutually beneficial relationships. It should not only occur when you’re looking for work. #3 is not negotiating salary or asking for a bonus or a raise. Ask for what it is that you need every single year. #4 is living life on auto-pilot and not setting goals for yourself, not setting aside time for you to work on your professional and your career goals. And then #5 is leaving it up to your employer to manage your career for you. So those are the five mistakes. I hope that this was helpful. Please start setting your intention for your career and your professional journey and growth about what you want to see in 2020. Journal it. Write it down, you know? Talk about it with your significant others, with your families, with your best friends. Share those things out loud. Think about how you can invest in yourself. What are those courses you’ve been putting off? Who is in your network that you’ve been wanting to reach out to but you’re a little scared to do it? Work with a career coach, guys. I’m enrolling new clients starting in January. Just a couple slots left. And again, just take the time for you. That is so important in this professional journey in this career of ours in this walk of life. So I wish you all a wonderful, wonderful holidays, and I will be talking to you all pretty soon. Thanks. Bye-bye.