How to Keep A Career Journal


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A career journal is a powerful tool, no matter where you are on the professional ladder. A student exploring her options, an established executive looking for a next step up, a 9 to 5 prisoner dreaming of an escape plan, a CEO, middle-manager going nowhere, an entrepreneur, a creative professional, or someone who is completely lost and looking for a career path. No matter where you fit in among these, a career journal will benefit you.

What Is A Career Journal

A career journal is a log – whether in an actual notebook, or electronically – you keep to write down everything that relates to your career. This is your blueprint for building your career your own way. You are only limited by your imagination, and your drive. You don’t need to rely on jobs people advertise. Design your own career and make it happen.

Why Should You Keep A Career Journal

We live in a world where job security is thing of the past. It doesn’t matter how great your education is, no one can guarantee it will give you employment – let alone fulfilling employment – for the rest of your life. Bureaucracy still prevails in most of the large corporations, which means that jobs that exist are not always filled by people who deserve to have them.

Do you really want to be limited by jobs advertised in your local paper, which thousands of other applicants are also applying for? Do you want your next move up to be at the mercy of your boss – who may or may not be competent enough to decide that? 

Your career is in your control. By keeping a career journal, you can use this control. Start your career journal today. The earlier you start, the more it will help you. 

What to Write in Your Career Journal

  • Get clear perspective on your current situation by writing down where you are now.
  • Keep record of your career progression. How did you get where you are today? How has your financial situation changed?
  • Record your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Make note about useful connections you make.
  • Record constructive criticism you’ve received. 
  • Record compliments you have received. 
  • Write down advice from good mentors.
  • Write down examples of traits you would like to emulate from other leaders.
  • Record your ideas. Do you ideas for new projects, ways to contribute more in your current role, ideas for your own business, to increase sales? Whatever it is, write them down.
  • Record your career goals, and review them regularly. If you are looking for a successful career, in whatever field, you must have goals that you are trying to achieve. Keep an eye on these goals. Adjust course as necessary. 
  • Write down lessons you’ve learned along the way.
  • Explore options for branching out from your current career, or even entirely changing direction. You are not required to stick with the same field that you started out in. But the complete change will become slightly less difficult if you think it through, and if you use your journal as a tool to aid you in the transition process.
  • Be aware of exactly what you want. By paying constant attention to your career, by actually thinking about what you want, what works for you, and where you want to be  rather than merely bumbling along, you will take control of your career in your own hands.
  • Interview experiences. These are dreaded moments, especially when you don’t get the job. Keep a record of spectacular successes, and spectacular failures so that you can learn from them.
  • Constantly write and revise your dream job description. You are the boss. You get to decide exactly what you want to, and how much you want to be paid for it. So be bold. Write your job description, and as your career evolves, keep tweaking it so that it’s always current. Review it regularly. This is your motivation. This is the fuel for inner fire so that you keep striving.
  • Keep track of your transferable skills. Write down examples when you complete a task or a project successfully. Make sure to record facts and numbers, so you can use them later in an interview or with a client if required to backup your claims.
  • Research the companies you would like to work for. Research the executives there. Create a plan of getting their attention.
  • If you want to have your own business, note ideas – about everything from the business concept to where you would like your headquarters to be, and how many employees you would like to have. 
  • Write down ideas for improving your personal brand, so that you are not defined by your job title. 
  • Define your vision, your mission statement, and stay true to it.

If you are an ambitious, driven person, keeping a career journal will help you immensely. It will help you channel all that drive into a more constructive manner so that like a good chess player, you can anticipate several moves in advance, how you need to steer your career. 



Start your own career journal. Tell us in the comments below your views about keeping one.



8 thoughts on “How to Keep A Career Journal

  1. Would you recommend a separate journal just for carreer issues? and what would be the reason.
    I think that this is a great idea, I incorporate my work note in the general journal that I have been keeping for decades, but I can see that it would be difficult to look back for specifics if it is all in the same book.. Thanks! :)

  2. It depends on your purpose and style of journaling.

    If you have pressing career issues where you are attempting to solve something, such as deciding the direction of your career, and if this is a very important – perhaps even central issue of your life at the moment then I would recommend keeping a separate career journal.

    If however, career journaling is a part of your regular daily journaling and you are noting progress and plans as you go along then you can keep it in your regular journal.

    The way to find the information you need to look back is to keep an index in your journal. This is what I do, and it makes it much more efficient to find information.

  3. Dolly,
    This is one Power Packed Post for our Career! Lots of ground we can cover with your list of suggestions that can help give us a clearer vision of what we want to accomplish in our work lives so we can determine what next steps we can take to walk in our full personal and work-related power and make our most beneficial mark in the world. Love this!

    As host of #JournalChat Live, I have chosen your post, How to Keep A Career Journal, for #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 9/23/13! I will share a link on my website and blog, Refresh with Dawn Herring, in my weekly Refresh Journal, and on the social networks.

    You’re welcome to join us for #JournalChat Live; this week we are discussing how we can use our journals to de-stress from our work day! Our topic is Your Journaling: De-Stress with the Best!

    I appreciate the fabulous work you are doing in the journaling arena; and thanks for such power-packed content where we need it in our careers!

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Your Refreshment Specialist

  4. Thanks so much for your great post. The career journal is unfortunately a much overlooked tool and I really believe in the benefits of keeping one. In fact I believe in it so much, I created a free service that lets you keep a career journal. You can manage it through the website and update it by email from wherever you are. Please check out to see how it can help you manage your resume better.

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