A recent job search reminded me, again, of the huge value of something I’ve known about for years, but have used only intermittently. That something is what I like to call a “Personal Career Archive”.
For me it actually consists of two archives. One is a Google Drive folder that holds digital content. The second is my trusty 30 year-old “Career Portfolio box” (see below) that holds physical samples of past work.
Forming The Habit
Honestly, my habit of keeping samples of my work didn’t happen because I was born as a self-marketing guru. I think it’s more likely a carryover from a “pack rat” habit I learned while growing up in Iowa.
In a farm shop you learn very quickly to NEVER throw anything away. Why? Because you never know when that spare nut, that scrap piece of steel or that old bicycle inner tube will help you fix a machine that needs to be back in the field as quickly as possible.
The Value Archiving Can Provide
No matter how it started, my habit of saving samples of my work has served me very well as a career support tool over the years, mostly as I was pursuing different jobs inside of John Deere.
Recently though, I put myself back in the job search arena again. As a result, I faced the challenge of showcasing my training development talents and experience to potential employers.
Believe it or not, as a part of my job pursuit I chose to use some photographs of a product training class that I developed and delivered in 1990. That’s right, I used an example from 25 years ago to help sell myself today (I can hardly believe it either).
Although I’ll never know for sure, I like to think it made a difference because I’m starting a new training development position very soon.
The Need Still Exists Today
Although the work content may differ (far more digital), the need for us to be prepared to sell ourselves today and in the future hasn’t changed over the years.
Hopefully, my story has you thinking about whether your career portfolio “box” needs some attention and contents.
If you need more convincing, perhaps the following four reasons will help sell you on the idea:
4 Excellent Reasons to Maintain a Personal Career Archive
Reason #1: Holds Tangible Evidence of your Skills and Talents
As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
If you’re in the hot seat being interviewed, would you rather try and talk your way into the job or would you rather show an example of something cool (and successful) you did in the past?
The only way to have this option is to maintain an up-to-date archive that contains samples of your work.
Reason #2: Serves as a Memory Jogger
Many interviews have time and other constraints which won’t allow you to show physical samples or pictures of past work.
However, going through your career archive ahead of time will help you prepare personal stories that will be well-suited to the behavioral style interviews that are so prevalent today.
In my experience, when your career spans 35+ years, having archived materials to look through can be a real asset when updating a resume or preparing for interviews.
Reason #3: Useful For Performance Reviews
Not unlike a job interview, the performance review conversation you have with your manager is a chance for you to toot your own horn. As shared in Reason #1, wouldn’t this be easier if you had tangible evidence of the outstanding work you completed last year?
Reason #4: Provides a Positive Boost to your Self Esteem
Let’s face it, we can all use a little boost to our self-esteem now and then. Sifting through some of the great work you’ve completed in the past might be just the remedy you need if you’ve had a tough day (or month) on the job.
Whether you’re 25 or 55, it’s never too late to create both digital and physical personal career archives. If you have plans to be in the workforce for any length of time in the future, having an archive to draw from will be a resource that I’m confident you’ll appreciate.
A Word of Warning: I’m not advocating that you save personal copies of confidential or proprietary information. Use good judgement and only save content that you know won’t violate your company’s rules.
Question: What’s your favorite success story about how you used past work samples to help you land a job? You can leave a comment by clicking here.