WRITTEN BY: KELSEY DI GIROLAMO
The best opportunities in life are often unplanned and may spontaneously appear. This is very true for job and career opportunities. Have you ever had a friend, professor, parent or co-worker tell you about a job opening that you would be absolutely perfect for and they’ll even recommend you? The only catch is you need to send in your resume and cover letter ASAP (as in by tomorrow morning). Frantically, you pull up your resume that is out-of-date and try to tailor it to this company. You haven’t looked at your resume in over a year and find out you need to add your job you’ve been working at, the volunteer work you’ve been doing and awards you’ve won. And your LinkedIn profile hasn’t been updated in over a year. Looks like it will be a late night trying to update your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.
Tracking your work accomplishments will help you months and even years down the road. While you may start off with the intent to use your list to keep your resume updated, there are many other uses for a list that details your contributions to the success of an organization. This article by Idealist Careers points out that tracking your accomplishments will help you prepare for a performance review, generate talking points about yourself for a networking event, seek support for a new idea or project, and more!
So put those frantic days of updating your resume at midnight behind you by following these five easy steps to track your accomplishments:
Step 1: Set Up Your System
Designate one repository for your work accomplishments so you’ll know where to find the most recent information. This could be anything including a:
- Word Document
- Excel File
- Google Doc
My go-to is Google Drive so I can access my list on the go. Just make sure you set up a system that you know you’ll use and update regularly.
Step 2: Gather Materials
If you’ve been working for a few years or even just a few months, you’ll want to gather any materials about that work that can help jog your memory of awards and accomplishments. These are a few I suggest to use:
- Resumes – this includes your most current resume as well as any previous resumes.
- Emails – look through any thank-you emails or emails detailing any projects or achievements.
- Thank-you notes – these can include any from your colleagues, bosses, interns you mentored, or from customers.
- Portfolio of projects – if you have a portfolio.
- LinkedIn Profile – pull this profile up to see any documentation of your job and accomplishments you’ve posted.
If you are still in school you can (and should) start documenting your accomplishments and responsibilities at part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, internships and other projects you’re involved with.
Here’s another tip from Idealist Careers: make a folder to keep thank you notes, projects, presentation notes, annual report or even program so you can use these as reference for your list! I also suggest creating an email folder where you can store and then reference emails from colleagues thanking you for help and notes about projects or presentations you work on.
Step 3: Set Up Your Document By Job Title and Year
If you’ve held multiple roles at various companies over the years, you’ll want to list out your title, company name, and years worked there. Then, you’ll be able to easily list out the accomplishments that fall under each job title.
Step 4: Start Writing!
Now that you have a document ready to be filled in you’ll need to start writing! I suggest formatting your list as bullet points that are written concisely as if they will be featured on your LinkedIn profile or resume. Take time to consider the difference between duties and accomplishments. The Muse wrote a great article about turning your duties into accomplishments:
“Plain and simple, a duty describes what you did and an accomplishment describes how well you did it. For example, “planned events” would be considered a job duty, whereas “raised $100,000 by selling out tickets to a 200-person charity event” is an accomplishment.”
I highly suggest reading this before you begin your list to ensure you are showcasing your accomplishments effectively!
Step 5: Continue to Keep Track of Your Accomplishments
Now that you have a system in place and you’ve created your list you’ll need to consistently update your document. Set up a calendar reminder to set aside time to review any new accomplishments. Whether it’s monthly, quarterly or right after completing a project just make sure you’re sitting down to update your list frequently. Between work and life, you’ll get busy and end up forgetting the last great project you worked on, promotions, awards, and impressive stats.
By tracking your accomplishments with these five easy steps, you can quickly and easily see how you’ve progressed in your career. This list will prove vital as you showcase your talents as bullet points in a resume or as you speak with the CEO of the next company you want to work for!