Create a Career Notebook: Overview

A career notebook can help you imagine your ideal future and move toward it. The notebook is your place to develop and record career ideas and then keep track of your progress over time. It’s one way to follow your own yellow brick road.

Forms

Downloadable forms will get you started on the content for your career notebook. These forms can guide your career choice and may later be used in your job search. You may have read about these forms in The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People (but if not, you are welcome to use the forms anyway).

The forms are organized in Past, Present, and Future sections, all under this tab of the website. You do not have to begin with or even do the Past. However, I recommend that you complete the Present section before moving into the Future.

Materials

Your notebook could resemble a scrapbook, a photo album, a 3-ring binder, a Day Timer, a journal, a website, or something else. Take your pick. You might buy an already-existing organizer or create a book of your own. There is no ‘right way’ to organize and express your ideas.

Assemble your materials: pens, colored pencils, highlighters, scissors, stapler, glue sticks, sticky notes, watercolor paper, 3-hole punch, memory stick—whatever you prefer for customizing your notebook. It might include your own writing and drawings, lists, poems, clippings, photocopies, photographs, envelopes, pockets, CD’s. (Follow this link to a full list of suggested methods and materials.)

You may want to keep all your materials together in one place. So, for example, you could empty a drawer at home and fill it with your notebook and materials. Or buy a zippered pouch and stock it with pencils, glue sticks, iPod, etc., keeping the pouch with your notebook. Or skip the book format and organize your ideas in a box, an accordion folder, or smart phone.

Process

Career planning is important. Give yourself some time. Pose big questions, like: “Who am I?” and “What do I want to do with my life?” Let yourself listen for your answers, no matter how tentative they might be. Beginnings are often small and quiet.

Set up both public and private parts to your notebook, if you like. The private part is for your use only, to dream, brainstorm, collect your thoughts, keep a record of your career ideas as they develop, and note your progress over time. Express yourself. See what you discover. The process itself can be therapeutic.

The public part can be shared with others later, when and if you want help with your job search.

Have fun! If you’re a neatnik, that’s great. If you’re messy, that’s great too. Write on top of other writing or do whatever pleases you. Put yourself first for the time you work on your career notebook. You might even make a weekly date with yourself: set it up in advance, like you would a date with a friend; then follow through, like you would for someone else.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” —Henry David Thoreau