I was speaking with a client the other day about information needed for her résumé and online applications when she made a comment that I’ve heard echoed by many:
“I wish they told you in high school or college to start writing all this stuff down.”
She was referring to the seemingly never ending list of information required for job applications. Things like your college or even high school GPA, achievements, exact start and end dates for jobs, etc.
Her comment struck a chord with me because she was absolutely right and when I started assisting others with the job search process years ago I learned I needed to start a list myself.
Thus began my “life list” – or at least that’s the document name in my files.
With our society moving towards a more dynamic work force filled with frequent career changes, an increase in contract roles (otherwise known as the gig economy), and multiple “side hustles,” a so-called life list becomes even more important.
So, what should be on this “life list”?
This is a big one. Keep note of exact start and end dates (month, day and year) associated with any milestone. This includes time spent in certain jobs, promotions received, when you received raises, education, training, certifications, volunteer work, etc.
For every position you’ve held (paid or unpaid) you should know your exact formal job title.
How much were you making in all your jobs? Record details about salary/base pay, bonuses, commission rates, raises, etc. Be sure you know your starting and ending wages.
Education, Certifications and Training:
As previously mentioned, record your start and end dates, but also be sure to include your GPA or end results, exact degree/certification/designation received, and related work or involvement (clubs, practicum hours, fellowships, etc.). These all can be relevant achievements in your career.
Supervisors Name, Title, and Contact Information:
This information will fade as time passes and your supervisor moves on to different roles. Jot it down now to save yourself time later.
Responsibilities & Key Information:
For each role you’ve held it’s good practice to keep detailed notes about what you did, your key achievements, big projects, etc. before you transition out of your role and into a new one. A lot of information can fall under this umbrella, which you can read up on more in this article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/before-you-leave-tips-remember-transitioning-new-role-beck-ccelw/
Why should you do this? Because recording this information can be beneficial for many reasons both professionally and personally.
The process of rewriting or adding to your résumé and LinkedIn profile becomes so much easier.
Most of my clients find the information gathering phase of their project the most challenging because they have to hunt for data they thought they’d have no problem remembering. Start documenting everything as soon as possible to save yourself the headache down the line.
On applications you can be sure the information you’re providing is accurate, not just a guess. Come time for a background or reference check this accurate information is especially significant.
The last thing you want is to guess that you started February 4th, 2015 at $85K with Golden Enterprises and during employment verification the company reports you actually started March 15th, 2015 at $74K. This not only puts you in an awkward spot, it could cost you a job offer.
You’re better able to visualize your career progression. Seeing all the steps taken throughout your career provides you the opportunity to reflect on various positions you’ve held and better articulate that journey in future interviews.
My clients that keep track of their career progression are better able to articulate their successes and related information. As a result, they have a stronger résumé filled with exact information rather than estimations.
Keeping track of your professional achievements can also lend itself to tracking big personal changes in your life.
I include private events on my life list as well so that I can associate major personal changes with professional happenings. Tracking moves, birth of a child, or even deaths in the family can help you remember why you took a new job or had a gap in your employment history and can add context to your professional narrative.