Tracking Achievements and Being Prepared for the Next Opportunity
You got the job. Congratulations! Now comes the real question…how long do you think you’ll keep this one?
By all means, celebrate and get a sense of the new position. Figure out what you need to do next. I sincerely hope that you obtain a sense of personal satisfaction with the role and won’t ever have to job hunt again. But the reality of today’s legal market is that people move around for their legal careers. It is no longer uncommon, nor taboo—frankly, it’s almost expected.
Whether you foresee a lateral move, career transition, or a promotion, it is important that you keep track of your accomplishments in the new role. Even if you don’t want to be looking for a new position again, keeping track of your achievements is generally a good idea so that you are prepared to market yourself. This information can also be used when seeking a promotion, when you need to pitch to potential clients, and during performance reviews. It prepared you to talk about your achievements without bragging. Waiting until the last minute opens you up to forgetting specifics, so here are my tips for you to keep track and update your achievements.
This means filing away hard copies of performance reviews and other information from upper management. Consider printing a few of the most important documents to have a backup source of information (obviously, save away any electronic versions). Keep track of your direct supervisors and the matters you handle for each. As every moves around (internally or externally) it can be tough to remember who you worked for and when.
This also means keeping track of the details of the projects you complete. While these won’t necessarily all be resume-ready, having an idea of what was done, any budget or deadline constraints, and outcomes can be very helpful information later. Any information that can be quantified should be recorded.
You are likely to remember the big picture details—so having a record of the small details will help you convey a fuller picture.
Any positive feedback from supervisors and clients is some of the best marketing material you can have. Any positive feedback from coworkers and other teams or departments is also worth keeping track of.
Performance reviews are also great opportunities to keep track of positive feedback from senior management. Hold onto copies of your review as it has information from your evaluators in their own words. This is invaluable for several reasons: first, you can compare their notes against yours to see how accurate your sense of performance is; second, you have in their words, what they expect from you; finally, you can determine whether you need to remind your evaluator of what you have accomplished since the last review.
Don’t forget about activities outside of the office that reflect well on you. Volunteer work, community service, and other leadership or bar related activities can be a boost to your resume and value as an attorney. Just as you considered these activities when writing the most recent resume, keep track of ongoing volunteer and related work. If that sounds like too much, consider starting small and partake in a hobby.
Lawyers keep to keep up with their CLEs. Make note of special aspects of your CLEs that can help position you for a promotion or new position. Particularly, any time you are a speaker or representative of the firm or area of law, keep track of the presentation title, audience, and dates. Positioning yourself as an expert in your field reflects well on you and your firm.
Authoring or contributing to research, serving on specialty committees, serving as a board member, or involvement with a local chamber of commerce or bar organization all help promote who you are and what you have to offer. Take time to improve your personal brand.
When the time comes where you have to sell yourself again, these simple steps can be a huge time saver. Keeping this information fresh in your mind is also helpful in many work-related situations and as you continue networking because you know when an opportunity may arise.
As a bonus, it also serves as a great self-esteem booster.