Remember to keep track of your professional accomplishments.
We often get caught up in the day-to-day tasks at hand — we check one thing off our to-do list and move right on to the next. Month after month goes by and we know we've accomplished a lot, but it's hard to remember what all of those work accomplishments were when it's time to look back. Or, alternatively, time goes by and we feel like we haven't accomplished much, when in reality, we've done a lot more than we realize.
The truth is, a lot is asked of us in the workplace these days, and it's important to track the things you accomplish throughout the year for a number of reasons.
Tracking your work accomplishments throughout the year as they happen:
Puts you in a better position to ask for a raise when you're ready.
Makes it easier for you to provide accurate and thorough information when performance appraisal times rolls around.
Makes it easier to update your resume when you're ready to explore new opportunities.
Gives you great fodder for when you speak with peers and industry leaders by helping you share what you've learned (rather than boasting about all that you've accomplished).
Helps you build an online presence as a professional in your field.
Gives distinct references to cite if you encounter disagreements about your performance.
Gives you the opportunity to give yourself a pat on the back now and then! You deserve it.
What type of work accomplishments should you track?
Don't be shy. Track any and all work accomplishments throughout the year, from successful project completions to awards and recognition. You might even start your list with past awards, recognitions, and major accomplishments that may not be directly related to your job, but show qualities that employers appreciate.
Some examples of achievements to track include:
Financial goals you've reached with analytics and results: Track any goals you've reached, how you've reached them, and use facts and analytics as much as possible.
Difficult situations with co-workers that you successfully worked through and how you did it: If you had a challenging scenario with a positive result, note it for future reference, including the path you took for resolution.
Completing tasks and projects on time, and how you did it: Track any and all projects and tasks, even ones that you think are small.
Overcoming pressure: Include any times when you were under pressure and still succeeded in meeting your goals.
Exceeding expectations: Track times when you know you exceeded expectations and why.
Holding an office or being on the board of a club or organization: This shows leadership and initiative, even if the organization isn't an industry organization, per se.
Winning an award: Awards show your value as well as what others see in you, especially when they're specific to your industry or company.
Being recognized by a club or organization: Being nominated as "Member of the Year" is pretty cool and can be significant, especially if it's an industry or company-specific organization.
What's the best way to track work accomplishments throughout the year?
Every individual is different, so don't go trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Find a way to track your work accomplishments that fits best for you. If you don't like writing in a journal, an app might be best for you. Or if you don't have time to write, maybe use a voice recorder. Some options to track your achievements at work include:
Keep a handwritten journal. There is just something about putting a pen or pencil to paper. Be sure to write in the date and, of course, important details of the accomplishment.
Input into an app on your phone or tablet. Inkpad for Android is great for notes and tracking items like accomplishments. It is especially convenient because it sends your notes to your email, as well. Evernote is another good one.
Use a voice recorder. As you think of an accomplishment to include, or you just finished or received something to add, simply pick up your phone and describe it into your voice or sound recorder app. You'll have the record to go back and refer to when you have time to add it to your list.
Write them on your calendar. A calendar is a great place to record wins on the day you accomplish or achieve them. All you need to do is add in what you did — the date is already there for you!
Continually add to your resume. Your resume need not be a static document. Instead of letting it gather dust, choose to continually update your resume with new awards and accomplishments as they occur. Doing this gives you a record as well as an up-to-date resume when you need it.
Related: How to Painlessly Keep Your Resume Updated (Even While Employed)
Create an online portfolio. If you like to live and track everything online, you might want to make a personal website which you can update frequently.
Use LinkedIn consistently. LinkedIn can be a great place to track your accomplishments, assuming you post regularly and keep your profile up to date with any new positions, awards, and so on. This gives others an idea of what you're up to in "real time" if you use it consistently.
Consider other social media options. Facebook and Twitter might also be sites where you typically post to share your awards and accomplishments. This then provides a permanent record online. You'll want to be professional and humble with your post to avoid coming across as boastful or over-zealous, and it can also take some time to go back through all of your posts or tweets to find those that share your accomplishments, but at least it's documented somewhere.
No matter how you choose to approach it, take action to record your work accomplishments as they happen. The more you track your achievements throughout the year, the easier it will be to share or provide them when you need to. And if you believe your manager should be doing this for you — don't. They often have a lot on their plates, and it can be difficult for them to keep up with everything their employees are doing. Plus, they don't always see or know about the small stuff you do, and it all matters. You earned the credit — now all you need to do is share it!
Does your resume properly showcase your work accomplishments? Get a free resume critique to find out.