This One Simple Habit Could Soar Your Salary

As a busy working professional, you probably keep to-do lists, use grocery lists, and have a hefty projects list at work.

I wonder if you’re also keeping a list that could soar your salary by thousands of dollars a year if you leverage it well. But it's not a to-do list; it's a "done" list.

I kept a “done” list when I was Director of Nutrition Services for a large outpatient medical group in Honolulu. The position had been created to manage a new patient program, so there was lots of opportunity for growth and achievement to track.

At the time, mobile phones were the size of shoe boxes and productivity app developers were still in diapers, so my “done” list wasn’t digital; it was tucked into a manila folder and hung inside my desk.

What was in it? You probably figured it out by now...

The file held a running record of my measurable job achievements, supplemented by supporting documents of proof; awards or training certificates; notes of thanks or kudos, and the like.

Do you do that? (Minus the manila.)

The one simple habit I’m talking about is to routinely keep a job journal—a “done” list of your running record of job achievements throughout the year.

Use it at your performance review to clearly recall (retrieve, really) and articulate how you’ve contributed to management objectives since your last evaluation.

In other words, leverage your list to fuel a fatter raise than you would otherwise receive.

Well-documented deliverables can make the difference between getting an average salary increase of 3% and one that positions you to pitch 5% or more. Sometimes, a lot more.

The High Cost of Not Keeping a Job Journal

With your days full of distractions and a brain on overload, relying on your memory to recall your job wins at review time is a costly career misstep.

  • Without a job journal, it’s easier to lose track of the objective measures of value that back up your wins. Lose track and you lose pay raise potential.
  • Without detailed recording, over time, the value of your achievements will fade or be minimized. “I was just doing my job.” That doesn’t translate well into a big raise!

Instead, leverage selected contents of your job journal to build your case for a higher raise outcome. That’s the first and foundational stage of the three-stage Pay Raise Process℠ taught inside the Salary Accelerator Course here at Pay Raise Prep School for Women.

Override Your Resistance

Securing a satisfying raise in salary is an ongoing strategic process, not an isolated event. It’s a process which includes regularly communicating your accomplishments throughout the year to prime your manager’s mind—making it easier to get a Yes to your raise request.

Women, be aware of the pull to resist this process; we tend to ask for things that we want indirectly. In Women Don’t Ask, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever contend...

“Instead of publicizing their accomplishments, [women] hope that hard work alone will earn them the recognition and rewards they deserve.”

Don’t count on it. Instead, keep a job journal to help you override the resistance.

Start or Update Your Job Journal Now

You can use any number of document, spreadsheet, or productivity apps for your journal input. I recommend you create a private Trello board because you can have a separate list for each of your various journal categories, and add photos and other attachments.

Do the task weekly to cement the habit. Every Friday, reflect back on the days prior and input at least one job journal entry.

Or input on the day something transpires or hits a goal milestone. More is better so you can cherry-pick at the time of your performance review.

Regular entries keep you focused on performance objectives and your job progress, making it easier to build your case for a raise.

Recording is easy to overlook or forget, so schedule auto-reminders into your calendar. As one woman put it, “Once I have slept, many of the previous day’s happenings quickly fade from my memory.”

For a healthy habit that pays, pick your app and start your job journal today.