Dear Lisa: I am glad you asked, Lisa! I work with so many clients who come to me not having had a resume in a number of years and never having kept track of their roles and how they have added value. Often, I will ask those individuals if they have performance evaluations, past job descriptions, letters of recommendation, and anything else in a “brag book” of sorts to jog their memory on their professional history and contributions. Being proactive and keeping track of these items is a great way to always ensure you understand and can disseminate your value to others, whether that is in an active job search or even when being considered for an internal promotion, Board opportunity, or other leadership role. Here are some ideas to help you make the process of collecting and archiving your career experiences and accomplishments an easy task.
Create a folder on your desktop to store copies of important projects, emails with kudos from your peers and boss, performance reviews, screenshots of key happenings, and any other file you think could be important to reference when updating your resume. This is the quickest thing you can do as it only requires dragging and dropping files that you can organize and reference at a later date. Be sure to save this file not only on your work computer but also to a portable drive that you own just so you know you can take it with you should anything unplanned and abrupt happen at work! Of course, it goes without saying that the files you save should be files you own and are allowed—per any employment contracts—to take with you outside of your workplace.
Download and use a tracking app prompting daily notes about what you accomplished each day. There are many journaling apps that make this process very simple: Some that have reminders that pop up on your phone automatically each day, and some that make the task easy by imposing character limits so you can really prioritize what you list and save for future reference. Simply search the app store for “journaling apps.”
Keep a “brag book” of physical copies of your job descriptions, performance reviews, complimentary emails, awards, training, and anything else you can print and keep a record of for future reference. I have seen many wonderful brag books from my clients, with some organized by employer and others organized in reverse chronological order. I love these books, as they provide tangible evidence of your journey, bring back great memories, and are something that promotes a feeling of accomplishment just by way of having the book.
So those are just a few ideas, Lisa! When thinking of what to keep track of, I have mentioned job descriptions, performance reviews, letters of recommendation, and kudos emails. In addition, you also can track compensation (of course, this would be for your eyes only); case studies of key projects; printouts of the company website for later reference; names and contact information for peers, supervisors, and clients; ranking sheets (if you are in sales, for instance); and the list goes on. Try to focus on collecting and archiving information that you know reflects well on the value you have delivered and the legacy you are leaving at your employer.
Most experts in the personal branding industry recommend updating your resume every six months so you never will have the arduous task of creating a resume from scratch. If you spend a little time—a couple of times a year—doing so, you never will be far from having a completely up-to-date search tool should anything happen at your workplace or should a recruiter contact you for an opportunity.