I was in a strategic planning meeting the other day and as

part of the discussion, a decision was made to pursue the creation of one or

more positions. That’s a good thing, as opposed to talks about layoffs, and it

made me think about how job opportunities often spring out of the blue. The

question then becomes, does the job interest you and are you prepared to take

immediate action on the opportunity – because, as the saying goes, if you

snooze, you lose.

In this case, and another recently, the positions were nice

enough that for a brief moment my interest was piqued. But only briefly,

because I just started a new position and am enjoying it immensely. However, if

that had not been the case, would I have been ready to make the most of the

opportunity? The answer is, probably not as ready as I could be. Why? Because I

have not been keeping my job journal up to date. Please note that this is not

the same as keeping your resume up to date. The difference? Let me answer by

explaining what I call a job journal, how you go about keeping one, and what

goes in it.

What I call a job journal is a diary of sorts in which you

make note of your accomplishments; keep track of boards, committees, and

workgroups you participate in or chair; track hours spent doing project

management; document products you have created or were involved in creating;

and provide enough detail about each of these entries to jog your memory should

you need to talk or write about it later. This is the information that will

fuel your resume and cover letters and provide you with material to speak about

during an interview. It also gives you information for preparing applications.


example, if you want to become a certified project management professional

(PMP) you will have to document the number of project management hours you have

under your belt for a certain number of years and also what category of project

management those hours fall into, such as project inception, planning, etc. This

is another good place to keep track of all the training you take – the course

title, when, where, who offered it, and so on.

Basically, the job journal consists of the small details of your

daily work life that you think you

will be able to remember, but by the time you need to accumulate that

information, you’ve either forgotten the details of your accomplishments, or

misplaced the documents or e-mails that would have provided it to you.

I am a strong believer of keeping your job journal in a real

paper journal pad. You can transfer the information to some form of electronic

media if you wish, but I believe that it is the handiness of having it in your

desk to make quick notations that makes it special. It also can’t get locked

away from you should you be told to clear out your desk and you suddenly find

yourself unable to log into your corporate network.

However you keep it, you should keep one, and keep it

updated while the information is fresh in your mind. It is up to you how

verbose you want to be with your entries, but they should be detailed enough

that they don’t leave you wondering what you meant if you pick up your journal two

years from now.

Besides getting you ready for your next job opportunity, journals

are also very useful in preparing your own performance evaluations as well as

creating lists of accomplishments for a particular time period. So make sure

you time stamp every entry and indicate the beginning and end dates of


If you are a manager or supervisor, you might consider

having your employees keep a journal as part of their “growth or

professional development plan”. It is a useful tool for everyone up and

down the corporate ladder – and if you do a good job with it, you just might

find that you will be the person who is best prepared to respond to

opportunities when they appear out of the blue. So what are you waiting for? Head

out to your office supply store and pick out the journal that is going to

document your work history from this point on. You won’t regret it. In the mean

time, I’m going to go bring mine up to date. Good Luck!