Want to be taken seriously? Do this.

Have a great memory? Take notes anyway! You can stop taking notes when you’re the top boss and you hire someone to do it for you. In the meantime, taking notes tells your boss and colleagues you mean business.

take notes if you want to be taken seriouslyTake notes at work:

  1. to avoid asking the same question twice. Review your notes. We always notice a repeated question or forgotten advice. Always!
  2. in an electronic format so that your notes can be used for any necessary follow-up, as part of documentation for future training you may be asked to do if promoted, or so you can search them by keyword at a later date.
  3. so you can answer questions about the material 3 months later without annoying a coworker or your boss.
  4. so that your boss doesn’t need to. Whenever you can, free your boss up to be more in the moment by handling a task like note-taking. You want your boss to rely on you, to feel that you are taking care of him/her.
  5. to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to the job and company.
  6. to show that you value the person you’re meeting with and the time they’re giving you.
  7. to  provide proof if your word or memory is ever questioned.
  8. to separate yourself from the pack – you’ll shine if you keep in mind that your boss is  watching you and asking himself “What am I going to have left when you’re gone?”. So leave your mark! Answer this question proactively and you’ll find yourself getting promoted.

the meeting minutes

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  • Nathan Mont

    There is a lot of truth behind what this article has to say. I work for a Brake corporation as a Co-Op for 6-7 months out of the year. I am currently a student at Kettering university studying Chemical engineering.

    Note taking is one of the most crucial parts of my job. When my boss has something that he needs to be done Having notes on what exactly he wants or the customer requires is of the utmost importance.

    About 2 weeks into my Co-Op I was brought into a meeting about a new process for making brake pads. This was the first time taking notes really saved me. In the meeting I wrote down all the data analyzation that would need to be done, where all the files with raw unprocessed data were located, where to find and how to make the prototype brake pads, and had taken note that this report had gone through 4 other people without being finished because of its massive amount of unanalyzed raw data. Turns out this report was my new responsibility!

    I had a lot of work to do! So the first step was to get everything organized to take the report out piece by piece. This had taken about 2 weeks to get everything in the right format and in one spot. I worked a lot of hours on that report.

    A step which could be added to this article and really should be is that you should always read up on your emails taking notes on them to update any other notes you may have. The reason why this is so important is that you may read something in an email and not recognize its importance right away.

    While I was in the middle of working on the process report I was included on an email thread that happened to mention our Global headquarters was interested in this process. The email noted that one of the heads had taken a special interest in the process. So I added this to my own notes about the report.

    Noticing that note, I set my other projects aside and worked solely on that report and had it finished in about a month. Next thing you know the Global Headquarters wanted the report immediately! If i had not taken note that there was some interest on the process I wouldn’t have been done with the report in a month. This means I would’ve been blamed for the late report! Fortunately I had it ready to be signed and sent off just a few days before the request by the Global Headquarters.

    So note taking really led to me keeping my job and impressing others on my quality and quickness of work. I highly suggest if you don’t take notes often to Immediately start!

    Also, If you are a college student and are not Co-Oping or interning, You need to get started so you can learn these crucial parts of being a good employee early and head a jump up on your job competition. You simply do not learn these things in school. Work experience is valued for a serious reason! Do not fall into the trap of waiting til you graduate to start learning about the real working world!

  • Olivia S

    Taking notes is something that goes underrated in the work force. It seems almost as if people decide that once they leave college, their days of research are over, which only hurts them, especially when it comes to a riskier job. I worked for a time with in home health services, taking care of in home patients, and each of them had their own specifications and needs.

    Taking notes had even protected someone; while training, we worked in the home of an older woman with Alzheimer’s. I had to take note of all of her dietary needs, numbers, and where the keys to the power grid and basement were. In addition, I took note of her behavior while my coworker explained things to me, and later on recognized the signs of her about to have a fit. If I hadn’t noticed her body language, my coworker and I wouldn’t have been able to keep her from wandering outside onto the icy roads.

  • Olivia Taylor

    I interned at an industrial furniture company called Cleveland Art for my senior internship in high school. The only problem was that I didn’t work in a comfy office, I worked at their weld shop surrounded by big, buff men. I was one of the only girls that was working there. Since I couldn’t take physical notes, I made sure to take plenty of mental ones. This included my surroundings and how to work the equipment as well as the different techniques used to finish a product. I took my job twice as seriously as the other interns being that I was a female working in a man’s work shop. I wanted to be taken seriously.

    Because I avoided asking the same questions, confidently knew my stuff, demonstrated my professionalism, and separated myself from the pack like the article said, my boss and male coworkers constantly mentioned to me that I was the best intern they ever had. I was eventually the only intern offered a full-time job during the summer and winter break into my freshman year of college. Even now, I still keep in touch with my boss because after finishing my first year of college, my boss has told me that he would like me to come back and work for him again during the summer. This article is definitely spot-on about taking notes at work and I would recommend everyone to heed all of the advice said.

  • Raz Tzameret

    I used to come home from school with graphite smeared all over the heel of my hand. My third finger had a permanent lump at the first knuckle from where my pencil rested as I scribbled. I took the most detailed notes out of anyone I knew. I was a scrawny kid with glasses who fulfilled the nerdy stereotype and who was laughed at more than once for this habit, but I’m glad I didn’t let it get to me. It didn’t bother any of my bosses after high school either.

    I believe school is more like any job than most people tend to think.

    Having a job, keeping and succeeding in it, is very similar to being a successful student. At some point during my high school years, my notes served 20 other students from my class, and when word got to the principal, I was sure I was in trouble. Instead, she encouraged the note sharing business.

    It came to a point that my parents had a special budget for copy paper. People got to know me through my notes. They wanted to hang out at first in order to get good grades, but as soon as they got to know me, I became part of a group. For me, a scrawny kid with glasses who fulfilled the nerdy stereotype, it was a blessing. Taking notes showed everyone I was proactive about my studies, and encouraged the quality in others. Taking notes is not just about showing your boss you mean business, but showing your coworkers you mean business.

  • Dane A.S.

    When I first came into the professional world some years ago I completely underestimated the importance of notes. I had a rough start because there were little things that I had let fall through the cracks simply because I was not writing enough things down. I had to come to the realization that I’m a human and will forget things, therefore to play things safe must keep diligent and well organized notes.

  • Jessica Waites

    I have taken notes in school and at work for as long as I can remember. In class, there is so much to learn in so little time that it is near impossible to remember everything. I take notes by hand so I can retain the information in three different forms: hearing it from the professor, writing it down, and reviewing what I have written while studying. I find that each and every time I do this, my grades have been considerably better than my friends who sit around in class and don’t take notes.

    I have had three different jobs during my high school/college career and every time I started training, there were several procedures each company expected their employees to complete. These include the process of selling, cashier duty, and closing up shop at the end of the day. On my first day of training I always write down each step that I am taught so I can retain the information and review it if I forget how to do something. Taking notes has never failed me before, so I am determined to take notes in the workplace when I have my first real job.

  • toster 15

    i have to say weather it’s 9on the job in school or at home taking notes is must in today society to keep up. some time’s it’s the little things that make all the difference. 🙂

  • Doug Radloff

    This article serves as a great reminder to myself of the persistence I had to muster to achieve my childhood dream of playing collegiate football. During my senior year of high school, I still hadn’t received any scholarship offers to play football while pursuing a college education, so I took it upon myself to reach out to coaches at colleges and universities that offered a great education as well as the possibility to play college football for the school. I needed to take notes on what coaches I had already emailed and called as well as what was discussed in those emails and phone calls. Without those notes, I’d be asking the same questions and discussing the same topics which would portray that I wasn’t interested enough to remember what was said during the previous conversation.

    As I began to narrow down schools of interest and started to take visits to these schools, I had to start writing down my thoughts on each school to avoid confusion when trying to make a decision on schools. Thanks to my extensive notes, I could look over every phone call, email and notes from visits to truly evaluate a school and what they offered to me in terms of a quality education and the chance to play collegiate football. Then, as I came to a decision on what school I’d attend, I could reassure myself that I had looked over and analyzed and interpreted all of the notes and information from phone calls, emails and campus visits to make a sound decision on my future.

    Its been officially a year and a month since I made that decision, and I couldn’t be happier. The satisfaction in that my notes were so detailed and extensive allowed me to rest easy in the fact that I took in all of the information and made the best decision for myself and my future goals. If you’re serious about what you want, you’ll take notes so that you don’t forget any information. Take notes because you never what opportunities lie ahead in life, so it is best to prepare. Take notes!

  • rjm7musicrox

    I worked at a law office a few months ago and there were many times where I had to sit in at meetings to take notes for the lawyer. There were numerous times where my notes came in handy for him. There was once a client of his who was discussing the terms for his will and testament. The client was throwing around a bunch of names that were to be added to the will and gain certain rights and responsibilities after his death. The lawyer actually got frustrated because he could not keep the names straight in his head. He had to refer to me many times during and after the meeting to make sure he was getting the correct information down in the will. If it was not for my note taking in the session, who knows how that document could have turned out.

  • cajunhusker

    This article seems to teach that the note taking you learn to do so diligently in school is just as useful in the work place. Thus, it is best to pick up on what people say and note it down because it is unlikely you will remember after too long. It will also make you stand out to your boss more because you are dedicated to your job and won’t have to bother them for things that have already been discussed.

  • niyoyakira

    Most of the when it come job search procedure, I remember
    always to take not because it is important in a person life especially in a
    work place. It is nice to take note because you can go back and look you’re to
    remind yourself of the thing your boss had said. Before I even attend the interview, I research
    the company online and take notes about their mission, headquarters, customers
    they serve, management, and history. So that I can know how I will say when my
    boss asked me a question. .During the interview, I take record with my phone
    and later I rewrite on a paper. So that in order t still makes sure to give the
    interviewee plenty of eye contact.

  • awilson

    I am a very diligent note-taker. My job can be very chaotic. I constantly have 5 or 6 things going on at once, and I love it. This is how I thrive in the workplace. However, if I didn’t take notes the stress would leave me lost! My notes that I keep on my phone have saved me in several situations with various bosses. I like being the one my bosses know they can come to for information or requests and know that I will deliver.

  • Eleanor Sugrue

    Who knew that the note-taking skills teachers tried to force on us in sixth grade history class would end up being such an essential component of “working smart”? Having read through all of the topics of this post, this one on note-taking resonates with me the most–especially since I took notes on each of the topics before deciding which one to write about.

    Last summer I interned at a digital advertising agency, where I sat in on numerous brainstorming and staff meetings with anywhere from four to forty people. While everyone had their laptops open to either research information or distract themselves, I had a notebook open and a pen in my hand. Trying my best to follow along with what different people added to the conversations, much of the marketing jargon and references to previously-begun projects went over my head. That’s where my notebook came in handy. I took copious notes at these meetings, scribbling down unfamiliar terms along with important ideas, just for myself to look over later.

    Little did I know that one of my coworkers would ask me to email him my notes so that he could keep track of what had happened at the meeting! I sent my notes in an email to him a few minutes later, and to my delight he was impressed by the thorough and detailed nature of my notes. Having had this experience, I can whole-heartedly attest to the moral of this lesson. Employers want to see not only that you can sit still at a meeting without relying on your laptop to keep you awake, but that you can actually pay attention and benefit from the information given to you.

    Want to be taken seriously? Take notes!

  • J-PG

    Note taking is highly important regardless of what field you go to work in, even in retail and restaurant. I know that I constantly have to take notes in order to make sure I remember things at where I work.

  • Rachel Gordon

    This lesson is very important – even if you’re not a secretary! I work in a college admission office, and there are many times that students or prospective students will call with questions or complaints that I need to pass on to another staff member. It’s easy to forget what the question was!

    Also, sometimes student will call and argue about legal matters, and sometimes it all boils down to who said what in the admissions office. If you’ve taken good notes and saved them electronically, it makes solving a problem like that a lot easier!

    Taking notes also really does show your boss that you care about the job. It’s easy to show up to work everyday, but showing your boss that you’re willing to take the time to learn and invest in your work is really valuable. Great lesson!

  • Megan T

    This is one great piece of advice. I can not stress how much this has helped me at my job. It is great when my other coworkers or my boss ask me something, and I know exactly what I am talking about because I had written it down when they first mentioned it. My boss has mentioned multiple times how he appreciates the notes that I take for him when he is with a client or on the phone, and that it saves him so much time. He has also told me that I have become a great asset to the company, and that I am welcome to stay with them as long as I want. I must admit that I already do some of the tips and tricks stated in this guide, and I think this is why I have been able to prove myself as a hard working and irreplaceable worker.

  • Alyssa Dobbs

    I think that this is a great lesson for everyone. This lesson of note-taking on the job is broad and can be used for any profession. This is something that can really apply to my job and that I am going to start doing. I work as a pharmacy technician and while I am always moving around from many different stations during my shift. There is always a lot to know and a lot to learn. To improve my skills at work, I can carry a small notepad in the pocket of my scrubs. I am relatively new at this job and I have asked several questions more than once. This would help me so much and I definitely wouldn’t have to ask any question for a second time.

    I agree that this would also help me show my professionalism to my boss. My boss would see me as a more serious person. This would help me a lot because I am the youngest at my work and I need to prove that I am very professional. I also agree that this would help make me stand out compared to my co-workers. I work for a large corporation and a lot of changes are happening right now and some of my co-workers hours have been cut. These changes at work are just more of a sign that I really need to prove myself to my boss. I need to show my boss that I am dedicated, hard working, and professional. I think that the tips above are all great ways to help me do that! Thank you for sharing.

  • Robert Lewis

    Taking notes is very important to being a reliable and constantly improving employee. Taking notes shows that you are dedicated to your work and that no one can prove you wrong on any topic because you have your notes to back up what you say. You stay updated on events and if you do forget you have something to fall back on.

  • Tiffany

    This is great information for me to have. I actually have a lot of problems with communicating effectively with my boss because she isn’t always clear on what she wants but I feel like if I ask her a question or to repeat herself then she doesn’t see me as the hard worker that I can be. I also think this is great to have for later on when I get a job in the career that I really want that way my boss knows that he/she can rely on me to have the information later on.

  • Eric Taylor

    This is actually really helpful. I recently started working at at restaurant/sports bar and since I’m only 18 I’m by far the youngest person there. Since I’ve never had a job before that I could feel my co-workers starting to get annoyed with me. And since there was a new thing that I had to learn everyday I got a little overwhelming a first. I wish I had found this when I was learning how to use the computers.

  • This lesson is applicable to every profession; it is even applicable to my job as a secretary at a real estate office. I started working at the office in the summer of my junior year in high school to cover for the regular secretary when she was on the field several days of the week. I was not ready for the fast pace and adaptiveness needed for the job. I would always get rolled eyes and deep sighs of irritation from the experienced workers at the office when I forgot basic information critical to the job. I would ask three or four times and constantly apologize, and I was not receiving much respect because I was so dependent on their skills. I caught on that to be respected I would need to be independent, so I started writing on Post-It notes the basic procedures and information that I would need constantly and stuck them underneath the computer screen. Within a few days, I began to notice that my coworkers were beginning to become less irritated with the amateur that I was.

    I realized that instead of writing the messages that were left for my boss and coworkers down, it would be much easier to put the reminders and memos onto the company data base, where majority of the workers were already on. Eventually I began working as efficiently as the original secretary, so my presence in her absence was not becoming a burden to the company as it once was. Taking notes was crucial to the success I had when I was working at the office. It gained me respect and helped me stand out.

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About the author


In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at LatPro.com. Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of JustJobs.com. He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.