How to Easily Record Your Work Accomplishments

Capturing your work accomplishments for successful job and salary negotiations.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #121

They say modesty is a virtue. Too bad virtue doesn’t pay.  In my first job as a manager, I assumed I knew what everyone did. After all, I wandered by at least once a week. All their names started with “J.” Jordan, James, and I would laugh and laugh as Justin told us how he hid in his closet, waited for his wife to come home, and jumped out and yelled “Boo!” I think she was his second wife; we never found out what happened to the first one. Sometimes I’d ask, “How’s the project coming?” “Fine,” the J’s would say. We all felt peachy keen!

Then review time came along. It was my job to grade them. Hmm… I knew Justin was married and liked to psychologically torture his wife. He gets an A and a big bonus. Jordan runs triathlons. That sounds like A work, too, with another big bonus. James? I don’t really know what James did. He never told me. He spent all his time in his cubicle typing. He gets a B, and no bonus.

After talking with the J’s one-on-one, they revealed James was actually doing most of the work. Good news! He set the bar for A-level work: James got an A, and the other guys got Bs. Since I was only giving one big bonus instead of two, I saved money. Then I got a big bonus for doing such a bang-up job saving money. I loved working for a big company. Wanna hire me?

Why Self-Promotion is Important

If you’ve ever had a manager like the younger me, you must self-promote. Otherwise, your boss won’t know what you’re doing. Maybe your friendly coworkers will spontaneously tell your boss how great you are. Yeah, right. And maybe your pet Aardvark lays golden eggs. Aardvarks don’t lay eggs, so learn how to self-promote by checking out How to Self-Promote Without Being a Jerk.

Self-promotion is hard. You’re so busy doing great work, you’re not thinking about remembering your great work. With almost effortless ease, each day you can prepare for your relentless self-promotion campaign.

Use Your Email to Organize Your Accomplishments

In your email program, create a folder called Accomplishments. This folder is for things you want to record as accomplishments. Each day, send yourself a note about what you accomplished, with the subject line “ACCOMPLISHMENTS.” When the email arrives, file it in your Accomplishments folder.

Quick and dirty tip: most email programs let you set up filters and so you can file accomplishment emails straight into the proper folder. The date and time are in the message header, so you don’t need to include those. Just jot down what you did today, and who asked you to do it. “Bought 16 refrigeration units to prevent Zombie spoilage, as per Melvin’s request.”

Showing a direct link between your work and the company’s success will help show your value to the company.

To save even more work, just file any email that reminds you of an accomplishment. When Melvin sends a thank you, file that message and you may not even need to send a note to yourself.

Record everything. You never know what’s important. “Put band-aid on 5-year old Zombie’s boo-boo.” When you find out the Zombie was your boss’s former childhood playmate, you can trumpet that as a major accomplishment. (Don’t you find it odd that all your boss’s childhood friends are now members of your Zombie army? If your boss ever says, “I want to preserve our friendship forever!” run.)


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.