You are probably very curious about what the “this” is in the title…well it’s a work or school journal! Yes, a journal can help in the job search process!
Don’t worry this is actually a very real technique and isn’t something that will make you question your life decisions…no promises though.
In all seriousness, keeping a work journal is something I’ve been practicing for 2 years and only more seriously since March. I found it extremely helpful when I was searching for a job a little over a year ago, and it is still very helpful even when I am not actively searching for a job.
You’re probably wanting me to tell you what exactly I mean by a journal… Okay, here we go!
A work or school journal, depending on your current stage of life, can be a physical journal, or a digital one, where you write down projects, tasks, skills, achievements, leadership activities, proposals, etc. that you have participated in throughout your professional or academic career. You can even write down high and lows of the week to keep track of things like job satisfaction or for interview questions on strengths/weaknesses or achievements/mistakes.
I highly encourage people to start this as soon as possible because you never know when something you did 3-4 years prior comes in handy for a potential job.
Having this physical or digital copy of your life’s work is important for a couple of different reasons…
- It helps you prepare for job interviews. Have you ever been asked a question starting with “Tell me about a time when you…” or “Give me an example of…” ? Then you have come across behavioral interviewing, and this journal can help you recall those times and examples in a much quicker and easier way. It takes the work out of trying to come up with a specific example of something you know you have done before. It also helps reduce the fear we, yes we, have all felt… blanking out in an interview!
- It can help you negotiate promotions or salary increases. When negotiating moving up or wanting to increase your pay, you want to make sure you have evidence to boost your chances of getting a yes. By having this journal, you have accumulated plenty of projects, committees, meetings, workshops, etc. to show that you are an asset that is worth more in whatever field you find yourself in.
- It allows you to see your own growth over time. This reason always warms my heart. Let’s say you start this freshman year of college and you are now a senior looking for a job, and you go back to prepare for an interview and all of a sudden you find yourself remembering all the time, effort, maybe even tears, that you put into your studies to get to the point you are at now. I can tell you from personal experience, it definitely boosts your confidence! Now, imagine doing that after 5 years in the professional world…another amazing wave of confidence is sure to follow. You’ve grown, celebrate in that.
Just like with reflective journaling, you have to find a method that works best for you so that it is something you will want to keep up with.
- You can have different sections dedicated to certain duties you find yourself working. For example, you may have a section labeled leadership or presentations. Perhaps you have a section on writing samples or research projects.
- You can have multiple smaller journals that follow you through each year or each job.
- Get creative! Use color or doodles. Decorate it with washi tape and quotes. Make it fun and interesting to look at!
- Excel Spreadsheet/Google Sheets – this can follow the physical journal techniques and be organized with one sheet and different tabs corresponding to categories or a folder with multiple sheets for specific years or jobs.
- Word/Google Docs – maybe you just want to have an ongoing document with a table of contents.
- An actual digital workbook/notebook that you create from scratch
Overall Questions and Ideas to Consider
- Do you want to include just the title or label of your tasks listed?
- Do you want to include a brief explanation or bullet points of what a specific task entailed?
- Do you want to include attachments or refer them to another task from another job/class?
- Do you want it all in one place?
- Do you want to include the names of people you’ve worked with?
- Do you want to include things you would like to improve upon or things you have overcome?
- Do you want to write down the results of a project or proposals?
- Do you want anyone else to see it?
In essence, this will be something that will help you track your professional progress and give you the ability to prepare yourself for things in the job search process such as interviews, career transitions, or even major career decisions you are contemplating.
Give it a try and then come visit us in Career Connections to help you put your effort into practice via document writing, interview preparation, career advising, and more!
“Journal writing gives us insights into who we are, who we were, and who we can become.”
― Sandra Marinella