When it comes time for your annual review or you want to ask for a raise, you likely know that you’ll need to back up your request for more money or a better title with examples of your good work.
At the start of each financial year, it’s a good time to pause and take stock of what you’ve accomplished so far this year, and catalogue anything you may have forgotten.
Here are ways to keep track.
Take Contemporaneous Notes
Make notes in a Google doc, your Notes app or a dated journal of when you have a major “win” at work, or you routinely do tasks above your pay grade.
You don’t need to make a record of every single time your boss smiles at you, but do catalogue times when you’re singled out in a staff-wide email, for example, or you help out a coworker with a big project.
I like OneNote, which I use for a variety of different projects and tasks.
One important thing to remember: Make sure everything is dated, and if it’s an email or message from someone else, make sure they’re identifiable.
Another option: Use a one-line-a-day journal to write about your work day.
If you want to go further for your own reflection, I like this breakdown from Idealist Careers of how to think about your accomplishments:
- Think of a challenge that needed to be resolved.
- What obstacles did you have to overcome to resolve it?
- List the steps you took to resolve the challenge one by one.
- What happened as a result of your actions?
Here are some other things you may consider tracking from TopResume.com:
- Difficult situations with co-workers that you successfully worked through and how you did it.
- 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.
You won’t use all or even most of this when it comes time for your review, but it’s good to have a record for your personal progression.
Take Screenshots of Everything
If your boss compliments you in an email or Slack conversation, take a screenshot and include a copy of it where you keep your notes.
Go Through Your Calendar
If you keep meetings and project due dates in a calendar, go back through it to jog your memory. You can also make note of accomplishments on your calendar, and be sure to set calendar reminders for occasional mini-reviews with yourself.
Keep an Accomplishments Box
Brought to you by Ximena Vengoechea, the woman who first wrote about the Life Audit, an accomplishments box is exactly what it sounds like. You write down your accomplishments and put them all in a container of some sort. Then you can back and review them whenever you want. Plus, you’ll have a physical reminder of your successes within view.
Make a Spreadsheet
If a journal app or accomplishments box aren’t your thing, try logging everything into a spreadsheet, which is easily sortable and can be customised however you like. This post has a ton more ideas for other ways to collect your wins.
Pretend You’re a Job Applicant
To prepare for job interviews, you put your best self forward: You clean up your resumé, work on your sales pitch, and practise answering questions your prospective employer may ask.
So apply that to your current role: If you want a promotion, think of it as a new job. How would you impress a hiring manager? What would you bring them to convince them to hire you? How would you prove you’re the right person for the job? That can help you figure out what to bring to your current boss. For example:
Actively Seek Out Metrics
Another interesting thing about job interviews is that employers are looking for metrics on your resumé that highlight results you’ve gotten, not just a list of your responsibilities.
So if you’re in something like media, a list of your most-trafficked stories (that you pitched) may be helpful. Maybe you worked on a white paper that made waves in your industry — save a copy. Show your employer the results of the work you’ve been doing so diligently for them.
Nail Your Review
You don’t have to do this every day or even every week, but if you do it more often, you’ll become more comfortable with it and with your work in general. As Vengoechea points out, writing down and reviewing your accomplishments can be a great motivator for doing even more good work.
When it comes time to sit down with your boss, don’t bring all of your notes, one-line-a-day books and calendars. Refresh yourself on what’s in them, and come with a page or two detailing your best metrics and biggest contributions. Then, write a follow-up email laying out your achievements (with dates and supporting evidence as needed). And enjoy your promotion.