Written by Rachel Provan - Contributor for CS Insider
There are two folders on my desktop that are nothing short of magic.
They have helped me get raises, promotions, new jobs, and even side hustles.
What are they?
An accomplishment tracker and a kudos folder.
These are more than an ego boost. This system puts your career on fast forward with just ten minutes of effort each week.
Here’s how to do it.
This is a place to keep track of your accomplishments as they happen.
What counts as an accomplishment?
Anything with where you took action that resulted in a measurable positive outcome.
Here are some scenarios to jog your memory:
It doesn’t have to be huge. You can go back through these and pick and choose the ones you find most impactful over time, but at least this way, you won’t forget about them.
Don't keep this on your work computer. You want to make sure you always have access to and control it.
I use Evernote because it allows for tagging, which can help categorize things. Still, you could easily use something like Notion, Trello, or even GDrive or iCloud.
Use the STAR technique.
Not only does this give you context to keep the memory fresh, but it’s also the best way to answer interview questions.
Review your accomplishment tracker before an interview to keep them fresh in your mind. Try to think about what skill or quality it showcases for you.
Then when a hiring manager asks you, “Tell me about a time when you…” you’re more than prepared.
As humans, we like stories more than just data. So create a narrative of your accomplishments.
Here’s an example where I recorded a webinar for clients to watch instead of doing live training every time:
I recommend jotting notes down during the week and scheduling time to update this once a week on Friday afternoons. It’s an excellent way to wrap up the week, and having it on the schedule will keep you from forgetting.
Don’t sweat it if you don’t accomplish something worth noting every week.
If you renewed the clients you expected to renew, or got an upsell out of dumb luck, you should absolutely be happy about those things – but they don’t need to be documented because you can’t show that you added value more than someone else would have.
Once a quarter, you can use the actions and results section to add the most impactful examples to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Keep it to your top five accomplishments for each job, or if those are all in one area, select a few that show your range of success in different areas of your job.
Not looking for another job, but want a raise or promotion? Meet with your manager to go over your accomplishments every six months.
Make sure to add the achievements to your self-assessment. This is not bragging. It's taking control of your career growth. Besides, it’s hard enough to remember everything you did well in the past year, never mind remembering the wins of a whole team if you're a manager.
Think you don’t need to do it because you have a great memory?
We all have recency bias, where things that recently happened seem more consequential.
But your achievements don’t become less impactful over time. Often, they grow!
We just tend to take them for granted over time.
Everyone thinks, “That’s our process here.” And no, people don’t need to thank you for it daily, but it doesn’t hurt to remind your higher-ups of your contributions.
Copy and use my accomplishment tracker. Remember, keep this up-to-date with all the ways you are driving impact at work, big or small.
This is simply a place to keep positive feedback – especially without specific results attached.
Do not brush these off or ignore them. These are not just someone “being nice”. It’s easy to underestimate things that come naturally to you.
Don’t discount your strengths. Just because you didn’t work hard to achieve something doesn’t mean it didn’t have a big impact.
If someone is taking time out of their day to mention something you did, it’s probably an asset – one you may be overlooking.
If it’s not quantifiable, someone tells you that you are the best Customer Success Manager they ever had, or your proposal impressed someone, throw it in the kudos file.
While it's main practical function is finding the achievements you would otherwise miss, it also has another sneakier value.
It’s human nature to focus on the negative and discount the positive. It’s a survival instinct. But that readily translates into imposter syndrome.
We all have bad days. Even in jobs we love, someone will say something dismissive to us, or we will lose a big account, or get shuffled around during a reorg to someone who doesn’t appreciate us.
At those times, it’s beneficial to pull out the kudos file and the accomplishment file. This isn’t about pumping up your ego; it’s about giving you perspective.
People said all those nice things about you. You achieved all those things. They are facts. No, you aren’t going to win every day or know everything, and that’s ok. You have proof that you know enough to make a difference.
It’s easy to let this fall by the wayside and not prioritize it because there is no immediate consequence.
The effect of this system is cumulative. You put in a bit of time once a week and have an incredible resource over time.
Invest time in the business of your career. If you work 40 hours a week for someone else, you can work one hour a week for yourself.
Take ten minutes a day. Track accomplishments, set goals, brainstorm, read, and network.
Do ANYTHING in the service of your career for those ten minutes. If you do that, you will be miles ahead of everyone else.
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