How To Make a Career Journal (With Examples)
Updated June 24, 2022
Writing in a career journal can help you process various workplace events and document your professional evolution. Regardless of your line of work, keeping a journal is also a good way to keep track of major events and outline your ambitions for the future. Reviewing career journal examples is usually an effective way to gather ideas for your own journal. In this article, we discuss what a career journal is, when you should make one, how to do it and also provide tips and examples.
What is a career journal?
A career journal is a detailed account of various events in someone's career that includes regular updates regarding their experiences and observations. The journal's content typically depends on your line of work and personal preferences, with some common entries being about previous workplace experiences, various challenges you encounter at work, assessments regarding where you are in your career and goals for the future. Some of the major benefits of keeping a career journal are :
It can help you process and acknowledge your feelings and experiences at work
It's a good medium for writing new ideas that you can later develop
It can help you set clear professional goals
It's an effective way of tracking your career accomplishments
It can allow you to review patterns in your activity and eliminate bad habits
Related: How To Monitor Progress
When should you make a career journal?
You can make a career journal whenever you think that having one can help you advance in your profession. Because most advantages that a career journal can bring are over the long term, starting one as early as possible in your career may be a good idea. Alternatively, you can start one at the beginning of a major chapter of your career, like a promotion or a new job, or track progress after you set a career goal.
How to make a career journal
Consider following these steps when making a career journal:
1. Define the purpose of doing it
Clearly stating the reason for keeping a career journal usually increases the odds of you consistently adding to it, as it gives you a specific target. Regardless of the context in which you started it, defining what you hope to achieve with it can motivate you to make a habit out of writing journal entries. If you achieve your initial goal, you can think of additional reasons for having a career journal.
2. Decide on the medium
Once you decide to keep a career journal, the next step is to consider how you want to track your experiences and achievements. Some of the most common mediums are electronic files on a computer or laptop, a note on your smartphone or in a traditional notebook. Although your choice largely depends on preference, writing by hand can improve your memory and creativity.
3. Decide on a format
When deciding on a format for your career journal, you can choose to use either free-form or prompt-based methods. A free-form journal is a description of all important events occurring in a certain period, like a day or a week. Using writing prompts, your journal entries refer to specific topics like:
Describing various events happening at work
Setting new goals you set for yourself
Assessing your progress regarding existing goals
Identifying aspects you can improve about yourself
Analyzing how you spend your time at work
Writing about the reasons you're proud of your career
4. Set rules regarding how often you write in your career journal
Having a set of rules regarding your journal writing frequency can help you be consistent with your writing. When writing a free-form journal, you may decide to write daily or on weekends, describing the events of the past week. When writing based on various prompts, you can set certain guidelines for what makes an event worthy of including in your journal.
Related: How to Advance in Your Career
5. Review your progress from time to time
Regardless of your reasons for starting a career journal or its format, occasionally analyzing your progress can help you achieve your goals. Review your writing consistently and determine whether it's consistent with your initial intentions. If you think that your current approach isn't producing the intended results, you can start thinking of ways to change your initial plan.
Tips for organizing your career journal
Consider these tips for organizing your career journal:
Consider your long-term vision. Having a broader vision for what you want to accomplish in your career can help you keep a coherent career journal. By setting long-term goals, you can then identify what you need to do to accomplish them and divide them into smaller goals that you can track via the journal.
Write down ideas. Aside from your regular journal entries, you can also use the career journal to log valuable ideas. Even when outside of work, writing your ideas can help you remember them and develop them later.
Date your entries. Writing the date before each entry can help you keep your journal organized. It's also useful when reading past entries, as it helps you know exactly when they occurred.
Career journal examples
Here are two examples of career journal entries:
Consider this example of a free-form daily journal by a real estate agent:
Today was pretty uneventful, mostly because I spent most of my time at the office scouting the market for new clients and sorting out my database. I also had a meeting with a client who was in the market for a residential home outside the city. I showed her a three-bedroom house around 15 miles from downtown, but it didn't match her taste and the price was a little too high. I need to get better at matching potential clients with properties. I'll ask my manager for tips on how to do that tomorrow.
Consider this example of a career journal based on writing prompts about a sales representative trying to identify what they can improve about themselves:
I got my sales results from the past trimester today and, although I hit my targets, I still feel there are aspects I can improve. I analyzed my numbers and discovered I made 3.4 cold calls per day and had 7.8 meetings per week, as well as a 23% conversion rate. My goal for the next trimester is to improve my results by at least 10% and this means I need to make at least five cold calls per day and have 10 meetings per week. I'll analyze my success in exactly three months.
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