Career Hack: Happy Client Notes
EACE Blog contribution by Katie Damon, Career Counselor, Career Development Center, Thomas Jefferson University
Have you seen those IKEA hacks, where a simple bookcase becomes a fabulous piece of furniture? There are also life hacks, where rubber bands can be used to open jars, keep paintbrushes clean, and generally save the day. Hacks are little tricks or methods to make things more interesting, more productive, or more effective; I have a career hack that might change how you work.
In my first role in higher education, my boss taught me the importance of self-advocacy and the necessity of promoting your accomplishments to your supervisors. As a career counselor, I teach my students how to present their accomplishments and talents to employers, but it hadn’t occurred to me to highlight MY achievements in a structured way.
As a result, I got in the habit of keeping track of what I call “happy clients”. I remember during my first year as a career counselor, it was sometimes hard to know if I was doing a good job. I would review the surveys our office sent out, but the students’ responses about their experiences felt generic. During my counseling appointments, how could I tell if I was making an impact? What really gave me confidence in those early days were thank you emails from students. I began saving these messages in a special file in my inbox, and would refer to them before performance reviews or when things got hectic and I needed a reminder of why I love my job.
Now that I am more advanced in my career, happy client notes still serve an important purpose: managing up. Whether you see your boss throughout the day or meet with a supervisor once a month, you can help them recognize your value by forwarding the occasional happy client note. I always ask my boss at the beginning of my position if this is something they would like to receive, and they have always said yes (sometimes they forward the notes to THEIR supervisors)!
Whether you work with students, alumni, faculty, parents, employers or other constituents, keep track of positive comments and feedback – save them to your desktop or post them on a bulletin board. These notes can brighten your day when you need some motivation, and they can be a great talking point during your annual review.
Katie Damon is a Career Counselor at Thomas Jefferson University where she advises undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and alumni in healthcare fields. She is the co-chair for EACE’s Professional Development Committee and will be an adjunct instructor for Drexel’s LeBow College of Business starting Fall 2014. Katie earned her Master’s in Higher Education from Penn GSE and Bachelor’s in Management and Psychology from Penn State.