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. Thats 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 cant 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 dont 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 wont regret it. In the mean
time, Im going to go bring mine up to date. Good Luck!