Your Personnel File...at home

By Julie Rains on 14 August 2007 (Updated 19 August 2007) 2 comments

Your employer has (or should have) a personnel file with your name on it; should you have one also? Theoretically, you should be able to access information from your file at the office but would asking seem suspicious? You may be getting ready for a professional conference in which you are an invited speaker and want to pull some info for a bio, or you may be updating your resume to pursue an opportunity with another employer. Either way, doesn’t it make sense to keep records of your professional history, development activities, and accomplishments at home?

What should you keep? Here’s a quick list to be updated when you change positions or enter a new year (calendar or fiscal):

  • Job descriptions
  • Performance goals (as priorities shift during the year, it’s nice to have a list of goals agreed upon at the beginning of the year as you may be evaluated on these goals rather than the new priorities)
  • Projects started, completed, partially completed, or cancelled; indicate your role, any major challenges, any new skills or insights gained, and project results
  • Accomplishments (note your achievement of company-established goals and anything you are particularly proud of such as a new procedure you designed that increased inventory accuracy or media coverage that you helped to secure)
  • Professional development plans
  • List of courses taken, seminars and/or conferences attended, books read, and other activities that are meant to aid in your professional development
  • Performance reviews
  • Accolades from customers, vendors, colleagues, supervisors, and important people in other departments (while I realize that an accolade from a customer or vendor could possibly be interpreted as a weakness in negotiating deals favorable to your employer, such collaboration is often viewed positively by other organizations)
  • Professional activities and community activities (trade events, service projects, leadership positions)

Nolo.com, which provides “plain-English” resources on legal issues, has personnel file recommendations that may be of interest. This article advises employers but gives employees an idea of items that may be included in such a file.

Keep a personnel file at home. There, it will be available when you need to refresh your resume after your employer has been acquired, write your bio for a speaking engagement, or just get ready for another performance review.

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Guest's picture

Certifications from courses you've taken, as well as the exact dates you got them, and any sort of other information like government clearance security information, and as to what level you're cleared at, would help recruiters as well.

Also, for projects/engagements, the exact months (dates if ppossible) of when you started and how long it went on for, bbecause I'd count the months for actual "real" experience.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for the additions to courses -- professional certifications and designations, security clearances, etc. And since you mentioned projects, project values (what the company has invested in the project) and number of team members can be helpful.

All of this info doesn't have to be included in whatever documents you prepare but it is nice to have it all in one place.