Your career hype doc

March 16, 2023

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The end of the Gregorian calendar gets people to be quite retrospective and reflective; the year’s end, the end of the quarter, and, ah yes, the bi-annual performance reviews at work. These reviews can be anxiety-inducing already, add on a tumultuous year that is 2020, simply existing seems like enough of an accomplishment. That said, a look back can help you recall impact and outcomes both professionally and personally. As someone who has done nearly 100, people are usually surprised by all of the positive impact they did because they are so concerned about areas of improvement or what they didn’t do well.

I generally agree with the notion that you are responsible for your own career development. However, it’s important to acknowledge that many do not have the same equity as represented people to make this claim. There is much sponsorship and advocacy that needs to happen for equity. With team members, I encourage them to journal as much as possible, noting their wins along the way to show their manager (this includes me).

Enter the Hype Doc

The Hype Doc is inspired by Jessica Ivins’ Career Management Document and is focused on micro level accomplishments you want to remember. This single doc is a handy tool to journal and track progress while it is fresh on the mind. What often happens in performance reflections is people look back at their calendars to see what events or meetings were attended. This can help, but doesn’t get to the root of your impact and outcomes. By keeping a dynamic Hype Doc, you’ll capture reflections and learning while they’re fresh.

Elements of a hype doc

I keep my Hype Doc relatively simple. First, I’ll break it into three phases:

  • Now: The bulk of the Hype Doc, which comprises of achievements now and in the past
  • Next: What I want to accomplish in the next horizon (usually a few quarters)
  • Future: Long-term career aspirations to keep in mind

The doc can capture many different perspectives. I like to include:

  • Impact: outcomes you directly or indirectly enabled. Add metrics or value around it
  • Track learnings. Perhaps it’s something new you did at work or a new skill (Janine Sickmeyer had a great tweet about this recently)
  • Impact you had on others. It’s called a Hype Doc, give yourself some credit
  • Add screenshots and artifacts to share your story. I like to include links, tweets, or screenshots.

You can use any type of software to create the Hype Doc. This most important aspect is you frequently update it. I love Markdown files and use Obsidian so I can take them wherever I go. You’ll see tags in the doc that backlinks topics or people mentioned in it as well. Eventually I'll put them on GitHub to version control it.

A few ideas of how you can track:

  • Dropbox Paper
  • Notion
  • Google Docs
  • Apple Notes

Keep journaling consistently

You can fall out of routine quickly with the hype doc if you don't consistently update it. I have a 2013-2015 gap in my doc that I need to go back and retroactively document it. Build a routine to make sure you update it. Daily and weekly is too short of a cadence for me, so I put a calendar reminder the end of each month for me to update the Hype Doc.

I run a Slack account that is only me (this could be a topic on its own) with a #hypedoc channel to log moments I want to look back at. In addition, I use IFTTT to automate reminder messages. This is highly effective for me because we use Slack at work, and having something one click away helps log content.

Give it a try

Whether you are starting from scratch or need to dust one off, I encourage you to maintain a Hype Doc! I have so much work to do on mine, trying to find moments to track over a 16 year career. It’s been a great road down Memory Lane for me to see how much I’ve grown, and how much growing I still have to do. Block some time out and you'll have a great look back, perhaps for your career memoir in the future.

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