When was the last time someone asked you about your most significant accomplishments? How easy was it to recall the details of the experiences, events and achievements that make you the amazing professional that you are?
Your career is an accumulation of experiences, events and achievements that establish your value in the job market. As time wears on the details can become fuzzy, lost completely or just difficult to recall. An organizational tool that I recommend is a career chronology – a pivotal document in your professional portfolio.
A career chronology is a compilation of the experiences that make up your professional life, including education, employment, projects, events, supervisors, team members, affiliations, and significant achievements. The details can be used for multiple purposes such as writing a resume, preparing for an interview, demonstrating achievements at a performance evaluation, and guiding your career advancement plan. I suggest using an indexed table that can be sorted and searched like a spreadsheet.
The education information should include schools, degrees, dates, classes, professors, grades, projects, internships, and continuing education. Since these details are often recorded in multiple documents you can use the chronology to merge all the information into one easily accessible source. As part of your portfolio is it wise to include your transcripts, certificates of achievement, writing samples and any letters of reference from your professors or internship supervisors.
Employment related events should include your places of employment, case names (client names can be included but make sure they are kept confidential or are a matter of public record), dates, responsibilities, team members, supervisor, courts, judges and court personnel, places of travel, vendors, accomplishments, results, and any other details that contribute to the success of your projects. You might want to ask your team members and supervisors to write memos of commendation after select events. The memos can be placed in your personnel file with a copy to your own professional portfolio. Since most employers no longer provide personal references the memos can be used in their stead.
If you are a member of any professional associations, be sure to include your officer and committee positions, any events you have organized, and any other contributions you have made. If you have done any public speaking or publishing include the dates, sponsors, publisher and all the contact information. Any articles, brochures or other documentation can be part of your portfolio.
The next time someone asks you to tell them about your most important achievements, you will be able to clearly explain the inspiring story of your professional success by referring to the specific examples in your career chronology. Using this strategy will give you a sense of confidence in your responses while distinguishing you from the competition.
Linda S. Jevahirian, is the Founder and President of Legal Search & Management, Inc. She provides recruiting, career planning, self-marketing strategies, personal branding and resume and other portfolio document writing services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional articles on career management visit her blog at http://www.legalsearchonline.net/blog/