Episode #154: Career Rehab with Kanika Tolver

March is Women’s History Month, and all month long on Punk Rock HR, I’ll be featuring badass women having conversations about the world of work. Kicking things off in this episode is Kanika Tolver, founder and CEO of Career Rehab, a coaching company that helps people renovate themselves and find their dream jobs. She’s also the author of “Career Rehab: Rebuild Your Personal Brand and Rethink the Way You Work,” a fantastic book where she outlines her approach to helping others be the architects of both their careers and their lives.

Listen in to hear Kanika talk about what Career Rehab is all about, what it means to be a corporate rebel and how she sees the future of work for women, especially women of color, in 2021 and beyond.

Renovate Your Career

Kanika defines being a corporate rebel as “going against the grain at work and standing up for what I believe in.” And this is exactly the mentality that motivated her to get into her line of work. As she became a budding entrepreneur, she was driven to renovate her own career, and she applied what she learned to helping others prepare for their own new roles.

For Kanika, the idea of renovating your career is equivalent to fixing up a home and putting it on the market. “I like to think about Career Rehab the same way we rehab a house,” she says. “You have an amazing home, but sometimes you need some renovations to take place.” In this sense, she helps coach people on taking themselves and their brands to the next level by ditching old practices and replacing them with new skills, new certifications and expanded networks.

She says that this involves using the tools at your disposal, such as taking courses on Udemy or YouTube. In addition to self-paced learning, another tremendous help is reaching out to career builders in your network. This means “making sure that you align your network with people that have already accomplished what you want to accomplish.” It is essential to do your homework to find out how to ask those career builders the right questions based on your needs.

Ditch the Job for the Dream

Once you’ve started the work on renovating yourself and you’re ready to find a new position, Kanika suggests viewing the search as if you were dating your job. “I think it’s really important to have a checklist,” she says. Just as you may have certain criteria in a dream partner, it’s important to view your dream job in this way, as well. Too often, people settle into certain careers that fail to maximize their potential, and adopting this “dating your job” mindset is important for finding the one that’s right for you.

Kanika also recommends journaling as a means to define your goals and ideals, as well as how to achieve them. “I’m big into journaling and being the architect of my own career and my life,” she says. “I think it’s important to sketch out what you want your life to look like and say, ‘What are the things that I need to do to get there?’” This exercise ties back to the idea of rehabbing yourself and identifying and developing the skills you need to reach your dreams.

“I think it’s very important for professionals to know that it is important to be OK with wanting the things that you want out of a job,” Kanika explains.

Women’s Voices in 2021

As we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic, the future of work is happening around us right now. So how does Kanika see the role of women in the workforce during these times? She tells us, “I feel like during the pandemic we witnessed women of color, and just all women, stand up in a great way, not just for their careers but for their families and for their kids.” She feels like, as we’ve come into this new normal, companies have been stepping up and offering support for women in ways that they previously hadn’t, and that they will continue to do so. “I really foresee women’s voices being heard in 2021. I really do.”

Outside of the pandemic, however, more needs to be done to improve the lives of women in the workforce, particularly women of color. During the Black Lives Matter protests, Kanika says, “I felt empowered as a black woman first, but then I felt like it was a lot of fake apologies coming from these Fortune 500 companies that were long overdue or even just not real.”

One particular industry where this is apparent is in the world of tech. “I’m tired of talking about the diversity numbers that have never gotten better with people of color and underrepresented groups within technology,” she says. Kanika points out that it simply makes sense for companies that produce consumer-based products to hire people of color in order to create technology that works for everyone. By not taking such an approach to hiring diversity, she says, “they actually are missing out on really building good quality products and services.”

People in This Episode