What can a Career Journal do for you?

Guest Author: Peg O’Donnell 

Guest Author Peg O'Donnell 2016 MAOD Graduate

Guest Author Peg O’Donnell 2016 MAOD Graduate

We have all been asked at one point in our lives “what is your dream job?” As we continue to grow and develop what we know about the world we start to take the question more seriously. But have you ever thought that the focus needs to be on the “dream you” as much as it is on the dream job? Taking the time to focus on ‘you’ will guide in discovering your potential and possibilities.

A powerful tool that will add direction to your discovery and provide a clear path to your dream job is a career journal. When you hear the word ‘journal’ what is your initial reaction? I know that journaling can have a negative connotation; it can sound like something you have to do instead of want to do.

In the article Using a Career Journal to Further your Career Development and Empower Your Job-Search Hansen provides ‘why’ journaling is so impactful. He discusses how a person can use it for discovering aspects about yourself around your strengths or gaps. He also speaks about the potential to brainstorm and analyze career options. Journaling is a safe, controlled tool that allows you time for reflection.

career-journalJournaling can be used by anyone ranging from students; to people looking for that next step in their career to someone looking to change their entire career path. The method can also vary to be either formalized or simplistic. For some of the “anti” journalers out there, Quint Careers offers a formalized journal sample that can be found by following this link to the journal example. If this is the method, you would like to take you can use their free Quintessential Career Journaling Tutorial to get started.

A less structured but still simple method is discussed in the article 6 Ways Keeping a Journal Can Help Your Career (2012).

  1. Log good ideas- when the idea comes to you have your journal available to document.
    Learn you lessons- why not learn from your experiences.
  2. Write anything that you learned whether it was a good or bad experience.
  3. List Good Advice From Mentors- feedback is a gift you can either take it and internalize it or throw it out. Write down the advice you choose to keep.
  4. Vent (in a Safe Space) – the journal is for your eyes only so record your feelings of concern and frustration.
  5. Collect Compliments- keeping a record of your compliments can provide examples for your career search or increase your confidence.
  6. Envision the Future- what does your future hold.


Think of the potential you can identify by taking the time to reflect and think about ‘you.’ Journaling is worth the few minutes you can spend each day analyzing the avenues to take with your career. Aren’t you ready to discover what power you have in making your dreams come true?

Question for Discussion
Have you seen or heard of anyone using a Career Journal? If so what was the outcome?
Couldn’t a Career Journal be beneficial for you? Why or why not?


6 Ways Keeping a Journal Can Help Your Career. (2012, July 18). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/07/18/6-ways-keeping-a-journal-can- help-your-career/#31fdfc0c396f

Career Development Journal: A Sample Career Journal | QuintCareers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 07, 2016, from https://www.quintcareers.com/sample-career-journal/

Hansen, Ph.D., R. S. (n.d.). Using a Career Journal to Further Your Career Development | QuintCareers. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from https://www.quintcareers.com/career- development-journal/


  • Reading this article indeed brought a new perspective on having a career journal! Ever since COVID happened, I have wondered if I ever made the right choice in my career and if it is too late to change careers. Society puts a lot of pressure on those in their 20s to “figure it all out” so we are prepared and settled into a career. However, if COVID had taught me anything, it is that life is too short and changing careers is not a negative experience because it shows that we are evolving and changing and choosing to learn new things outside our comfort zone. The concept of having a career journal is beneficial in tracking down our thoughts and ideas, so I am definitely considering doing this for myself!

  • Bernadette McGinester

    I never thought to use a career journal. I will definitely consider it as I am just starting to journal for myself personally to help me clear my mind and help me reflect on the past to stay focused on my daily task. I think that it would be helpful to help someone see on paper their task and daily task at work to go back and reflect on how to do better or different.

  • It is something worth to read just like the available services of CIPD assignment help. Hats off to the writer for drafting such an impressive piece of work. To get such kind of content one should hire an assignment writing service. https://cipdassignments.co.uk/

  • It is something worth to read just like the available services of CIPD assignment help. Hats off to the writer for drafting such an impressive piece of work. To get such kind of content one should hire an assignment writing service.

  • Title- What can a career Journal do for you? Question- Have you seen or heard anyone using a career Journal? If so couldn’t a career journal beneficial for you why or why not? No, I haven’t heard of anyone using a career journal beside people just regular journal their day to day thoughts. However, for my personal use, I would love and could most definitely benefit from the career journal especially since I am a current business owner of a home daycare. This will guide me and give me ways to develop and stay on task of my ideas and things I want to accomplish in life.

  • Greetings,

    This article was a very interesting read. I use a career journal. Before reading this article, I just called it my succession preparation. I use my journal to document activities, traits, verbiage, rationales and characteristics that my supervisor and other senior leaders demonstrate. I catalog these items and develop an action plan for each. I then categorize the plans as either benefits for my current performance or differentiators in my next role. I am a firm believer that, although we never know when the opportunity will arise, we must be prepared. In addition, every day is theoretically a job interview because someone is always watching, even when we are not aware.

    Thank you,

  • I have recently started using a planner to help organize and guide my time as I felt like all of my free time was wasted or nonexistent. Writing things down has definitely helped in that avenue. I never considered a career journal to help guide my career but after reading this article and seeing how writing things down can help in one aspect of my life, I will give this a try.

    Thank you for the suggestion!

  • Wow. Something so simple that has never really come to mind. This is very helpful. In my career there are always so many random thoughts that come and go. They could be useful but rarely have the time to develop them then the next thing you know I forgot them. This would be great for things that wouldn’t quite go in a portfolio but that I definitely want to hold on to.

    Thank for this post.

  • Developing a Career Journal sounds like a great idea. I think having something tangible to guide your efforts if really helpful and also keeps the user accountable to the tasks, items, responsibilities they have committed to in writing. Just as vision boards are meaningful to mapping out one’s personal life, the journal can serve a similar purpose. For me, I would use it mostly to track and understand the progression of roles and positions I would hope to obtain someday. In the same vein, it would help me to align my skills with the ideal professional situation.

  • This is my first time hearing about a career journal. What an interesting concept. I am going to give it a try. I hope to stick with it and find it to be very beneficial. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is my first time hearing about a career journal. A very interesting concept. Oprah is the only person I have heard mention something similar. I am going to give it a try. I can se how keeping a career journal can be very beneficial. My concern is just sticking with the commitment to use it on a regular basis. And as mentioned in the the blog entry, having it feel like something I want to do as opposed to something I must do.

  • I thought this was interesting. One awesome ideal about keeping journals involves the self-reflection aspect of actually reading items that have occurred in the past. For job seekers or persons seeking more growth, this could used as a way to identify items that may have to worked on for future use. Great article!

  • Peg, congratulations on your achievement. Until I stumbled upon this blog I have never heard of anyone using a career journal. This is the most enlightening idea that I have hear in a long time. This is so relevant to me at this point in my career when I am being task with taking an early buyout from my company and either transitioning to a new career or deciding to retire. I can only imagine that if I had been keeping a journal I would be in a better position to decide upon the next chapter in my career. I love this idea so much I am going to start right away with building my journal so that when my last day approaches, I will be ready to begin my job search armed with a better idea on what that would be. Again, thank you so much for sharing. This will be a wonderful too.

  • Great article! One of my classmates actually just mentioned that she kept a journal to keep track of useful ideas throughout her career. I’ve never heard of the term career journal, however. I think keeping a journal would be a great idea, especially within pharmacy. Keeping track of any incidences I run into and how these issues were solved could be a good reference point for the rest of my career. I could also take notes on little tips here and there as I go along. A career journal in pharmacy sounds like it could be very useful and beneficial! Thanks for sharing!

  • Peg thank you for this article. I’ve never thought of a career journal specifically but I routinely get in the habit of printing job postings and jotting down what I like about the role or highlighting the skill set I need to obtain in order to fit the profile requested. My practice along with the journal allows for reflection over time and addresses rather or not my focus has changed.

    It’s really easy to forget our small successes along the way so the ability to recall via journal is also nice.

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