Why You Should Always Keep a Running List of Your Career Accomplishments

Jun 19, 2014 - Joe Matar

Every professional should keep an up-to-date list of his or her accomplishments, responsibilities and results.

Academic advisors sometimes call this a “brag sheet,” and they draw from it when writing recommendations for students. Keeping a list of your professional accomplishments serves a similar purpose.

This list acts as a repository that you can draw from whenever you need to. Don't anticipate looking for a new job or updating your resume soon? You should still keep a list of your accomplishments. Here's why:

1. Keep better track of your experiences

It's difficult to remember all the details of our experiences. Documenting them close to when they happen enables you to accurately keep track for the future. This will make it easier to weave relevant experiences into a resume or cover letter. It’ll also help you simply remember.

2. Have readily available phrases and statistics to draw from

When you run into the VP you admire in the elevator and she asks, "So what have you been up to?" you’ll have articulate, meaningful responses to give her rather than saying, “Not much,” or giving her a generic, “Things are so crazy!” This also applies to when a recruiter reaches out to you on LinkedIn or when your uncle asks about your job over the holidays.

3. Give yourself choices

You'll likely never include everything you’ve ever done in a resume or a conversation, but keeping a list of your accomplishments gives you options. When you're ready to apply to your dream job, you can pick and choose the most relevant, compelling items.

4. Observe your own trends

Keeping stock of your accomplishments lets you observe your own trends. Are there any project areas you've really knocked out of the park? Do you post the best results when working on a team or alone? Maybe you've led multiple cross-functional teams and not even realized it. Documenting what you're doing and how you spend your time helps you identify patterns that might influence what turn your career takes next.

Ready to start or update your list, but unsure how? Create a simple list. To save time and write in a professional tone, try to keep the list as a “master” version of your professional resume.

Don’t forget to apply well-known resume writing tips like including statistics to quantify your results, using strong action verbs and writing about work you’ve done in the past tense and current work in present tense.

It's common to get caught up in our day-to-day and lose sight of our careers in a broad sense. The day-to-day is important, but it's equally important to step back every now and then and take inventory of what we've been up to. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Keeping this sort of list fresh prepares you for when the time comes to spruce up your resume, apply for a job or speak about an experience or specific result quickly.

Jane Scudder is a marketing manager and culture team lead at Hubzu.com. Passionate about career development, culture, and change management, she blogs in her spare time, follow her musings here: http://janeonchange.blogspot.com.