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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  • Megan DeMoss

    This is so true and helpful. In my current internship, we always receive notes about the previous meeting. Instead of having to look over to see what I missed out on, I can compare and add things from what I wrote to what is listed. It’s a great feeling knowing that I’m organized and my supervisors can see that I’m working hard to be professional.

  • When I started my first job I was extremely nervous. Even though it was just a beginning to earn some money for college, I felt the pressure to prove my worth. I was significantly younger than all the other workers, which made me feel like I would not be taken seriously. In our first staff meeting I brought a notebook and pencil to take notes. Like suggested in the advice above, taking notes made me look more professional as well as gave me something to look back to for future reference.

  • Kyle C.

    From what I have gathered during the jobs I’ve had, especially for a startup company, this article is absolutely true. When I took a year off of school to work a tech startup, I was unused to the fast pace and expected ability to absorb information and expand upon it. As an employee, I was expected to be an authority on what I was doing and to give advice on how to improve. You had more freedom as well as more responsibility.

    It took me a few weeks to understand that I needed to retain my on-the-job information. Notes were the solution to my problem, so I bought a notebook and began to jot down my thoughts. Eventually, I had cataloged my job and made it easy for myself to go back and review notes. My boss began to notice and praised me in the next meeting for my attentiveness. Subsequently, I made a few improvements to our in-office database which earned me employee of the month.

    I can honestly say that this was due to the fact I learned to take notes and hold myself to a high standard.

  • Michael P Miller

    I think that taking notes is an underestimated skill. I suppose you could say my first “real” job was a supervisor at a community center in a military installation. We had slots, a restaurant, a bar, and a ballroom for military events. I was quite nervous about everything I had to learn, particularly with the slots because we had our own cash cage and did counts and organizing at the beginning and end of every shift. This may not seem like much to you, but consider my previous job was cleaning tables at a restaurant.

    During my couple days of training, I always carried a notepad and paper with me and jotted down important details as my boss explained the procedures (it is especially important to know proper procedures when it comes to the military and money, trust me). She mentioned to me the very first day how impressed she was that I was taking the time to write down what she said. We had a solid working relationship from that point.

    I think what I take most from this article is numbers 5 and 6. It is vital to show appreciation for the time of the person who is training you, in combination with showing your boss and/or trainer that you are committed to doing a great job and getting it right.

  • My future career plan is to become an elementary teacher. I have just started substituting in hopes of starting a good foundation with teachers and the principal at this particular school but for the most part it is for experience.

    Since I started substituting my eyes have opened to so many things, so I can see how taking notes can be extremely essential. I started taking notes just out of habit to help myself remember key things; morning duty and dismissal duty, so forth. When you’re in charge of others especially children, being responsible is imperative and there should be no room for error.

    I have seen first hand how note taking comes in handy, helps the memory, makes one look responsible and shows how an individual takes initiative. A few of the things I take notes on are of course bell schedules at the different schools I substitute at, students behavior throughout the day, number of times a student leaves to the restroom, and various topics I feel need to be addressed such as if I notice a student struggles in a particular area.

    As an adult I never want to be caught off guard and looking unsure about myself or my job responsibilities. I keep a small notepad with me at all times that contains notes I have jotted down and look to them to ensure me of something or give me a heads up about something coming up.

    I absolutely agree with the advice given and look to it for guidance and how it can benefit my life and especially my career.

  • Jamie S.

    Reading this article made me think about my last job where I carried around a small notepad and was taking notes all the time. I wrote down things that customers or my boss said and jotted down a daily to-do list. Using a notepad helped me work more efficiently, especially because my boss was “scatterbrained” and would just rattle off what she wanted me to do. It helped me keep track of the random things that she asked me to take care of. I didn’t have to worry about forgetting what someone said or forgetting to do a task because it was all in my notebook. I wrote down instructions to help me do tasks I didn’t do that often and kept a list of important phone numbers so I didn’t have to search for them every time I needed to use them. My job was a fast paced, low tech job so I didn’t take electronic notes, but even paper notes were very helpful.

  • Jasmine England

    All through middle and high school, my peers would tease me for being so organized and keeping a daily planner and literally note every aspect of my life…Tuesday 4:00pm – 8:00pm Dance Class, 8:30pm – 10:00pm Homework/Study, but I always had a method to my madness. I takes more focus to write something down than it does to make a “mental note,” and writing things down also insures that said “mental note” is remembered. Also, I find that when I write down things I need to do, my life is generally less chaotic because I don’t have force myself to remember everything at one time. Now, with so many devices that make note taking easy and convenient everyone should be able to be a master note taker!

    Even in the midst of some teasing, I always had the last laugh. Whenever some one was absent from class, I was the “go to person” for notes. Unfortunately for me, this favor was not always returned, so I never wanted to be absent from class!

    The skill of taking good notes has served me well even in college, and upon receiving an internship with a judge. At any given time the judge would have me take notes on telephone conversations with attorneys so that she could remember what transpired off the court records, which is very important for judges with large court dockets.

  • I believe that taking notes shows that you’re actually considerate and mindful of what your superiors or colleagues are uttering. I’ve noticed in some of my classes of mind that the professors seem to point out the students that aren’t taking notes as the ones that assume they know it all, but don’t expect them to perform highly on the exams. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since being in college is despite how much you read through the textbook and remember the information, there’s always something they leave out and the professors covers in it in their notes which can be essential, especially regarding classes where calculations consists of the majority of the material covered in the exam.

  • Tooba Imtiaz

    Even though I joined a group project meeting during my first week of employment, I attended with enthusiasm, attentiveness, and eagerness. Those traits were reflected upon my performance review as someone willing to join and contribute to the work immediately since I showed willingness to listen, question, and takes notes on topics during the meeting. A simple nodding of the head or eye contact during meetings in addition to taking notes show bosses that the employee is on board and defines your importance in the boss’ perspective. Taking notes are key that the person cares to consider details even though the project had not been fully disclosed in depth. Taking notes signifies a promise in the person that he or she is ready to take control of the job opportunity during its inchoate stages of training and introductions.

  • Tara11

    Taking notes is very important to be taken seriously, as the article states. Even when I interview for jobs, I take note of what the interviewer tells me I need to do to fulfill my job requirements. It shows you respect what the person is saying, and aren’t zoning out while they speak.

    I am a soccer referee, and each year I have to take a recertification class. 95% of what is covered in the class is information I have already learned, I have been doing this for 6 years now. But I still take notes on it to refresh my memory and show the instructor I am paying attention. Usually there are assignors present during these classes, and if they see you really listening they are more likely to assign you more games. So it is important to be professional and pay attention because you never know who’s watching!

  • melsgars22

    While I worked for my student newspaper, I worked as a copy editor and was one of the final people to review the newspaper before publication. As a copy editor, it was my job to read through materials carefully and entirely, or the editor-in-chief would have more work to do later on. One thing that I had to understand was AP style instead of MLA, which is more common with English majors rather than using AP. I had to take in-depth notes of AP style as our copy chief lectured us. Making mistakes in the college’s newspaper would decrease our credibility as a whole, so performing to the best of my ability was pertinent.

  • Em G

    I started a new job this past semester. I took notes because there was lots to remember. It has been a valuable resource to look bak upon instead of constantly having to ask the same questions. Notes taking shows that a person is serious about learning their job and wants to remember all of the important parts of it.

  • Faraz A.

    I think taking notes is especially important in outlining your goals and accomplishments for each work day. In my organic chemistry research, I had to go into the lab every day with a list of goals to accomplish. At weekly meetings with my lab group, I could go over each day and how I used it to move the research forward. It’s also nice to have a record of what I’ve accomplished so I know what I’m contributing, the impact of the contribution, and how to improve my contribution as the research progresses. Whether its advice from the lab members or a task from my professor, I find that writing things down helps me remember and stay organized.

  • I always take notes when ever I’m in a meeting type atmosphere. A lot of times I find myself writing notes about myself, from myself, to myself; in order to help “my self,” remember what I talked about. I know that sounds a bit crazy; but you’ll quite pleasantly surprised how this works.
    You can not always refer to those notes though, because I am a Music Director who works not only with 5 active, working and performing bands as well as for my church. Now, where you may ask; “where are the notes doing me any good?” Well, every where, everytime, and all the time. People say to me all the time, “why do you write so much?” And my response to them? “It helps keeps me and the 15 other people I deal with paid!”
    You can’t go through life thinking your mind is always going to be like a steel trap. That’s why I take this motto; “Don’t just think it; ink it……!” And you’ll see that a lot of the busy aspects of your, life, job, relaxtion time, and even your sleep will be less hectic if you just… “write it down, and follow what you’ve written.”

  • Brenna

    Despite how much credit I gave myself about my memory and my ability to retain information; I still felt compelled to write my information down. Working in the medical field can mean that you will barely have time to sit down and collect yourself. There is a responsibility that each staff member has for each patient, and each patient has a special plan of care that must follow through accordingly each day. My note taking became so important that I was designing my own table on a spreadsheet and making mass copies of them so that I could organize my information in accordance to each patient. I worked as a nursing assistant, and the nurses I worked under relied on all of the nursing assistants to understand the magnitude of care that each patient requires. At the beginning of each shift I was given a detailed report about the patient’s general condition, discharge planning, vital signs, and blood glucose (if necessary). It was my experience working in a hospital that taught me the importance of note taking. One mistake in my note taking could cause a domino effect with my report back to the nurse I was working directly under. Each observation I wrote down along with the numbers associated with vital signs and intake/output would be the key indicator for the nurses and doctors with determining the status of a patient’s condition.

  • Magnin

    I totally agree with Jillian. Knowing how to take notes is a very important skills in college as well as in your career. You have to be perspicacious enough to know what information to retain and note on paper. So with the note-taking skill comes discernment. It definitly implies that you can mentally distinguish any information you receive based on their importance. Looking back at your notes will eventually help you in any planning or processing because a good planner knows how to take notes.

    Besides, it always shows that not only are you smart and well-organized but you are interested in what your interlocutor (your supervisor or professor for example) is saying. Like Jillian said, it also prevent you from going back to your supervisor and ask him about something he already talked about!

  • Caitlyn Settle

    For me, looking for jobs and going to interviews was always such an anxiety filled issue. I always get really nervous that I’m not what the bosses are looking for and I never know what to expect. But after reading these articles about things that I can do to not only make my experience better but to also just show that I can be a great future associate, I feel so much better about going out and looking for a job. Knowing before I go into an interview that it really shows motivation and hard work by taking notes and just showing a big interest, will let me do better and be comfortable going in. Thank you!

  • Liliana W.

    I think it depends on a certain person:
    different people like different things (and so do bosses). Taking notes will
    impress most of them, but it doesn’t always mean that you will remember the
    things you wrote down or that you won’t lose those notes…

    Some bosses appreciate a great memory
    more than just taking notes, but not everyone possesses a great memory.

    boss from my previous job liked when everyone took notes.
    The boss that I have
    at the present job likes when his employees keep things in their heads (because
    it is how he does it), but he does not expect everyone to remember and be able
    to do the same things he does, so he does not mind when people take notes.

  • S.Bedford

    Taking notes during the job searching process is now pretty much second nature to me. Originally, I would have never thought that it was important to take notes about the company or position you are applying for. However, about three years ago I learned exactly how important it is. My current employer offers what is called a mock interview when you receive a invitation to interview for a job. During this process managers sit down with you and ask you a series of questions in an interview type of setting. Afterwards they rate you on the interview and give you suggestions on what you can improve on for the real thing.

    Thanks to the mock interview, I realized that I didn’t know as much about the position I was going for as I thought I did. I wanted the job that I was about to interview for very badly. Therefore, I decided that I should research the position that I was applying for onlinr. Later on that night I sat down with my laptop, notebook paper, and pen and began researching the position I had applied for. I wrote down all the information that I thought was pertinent to the job as well as other things I thought the interviewer might ask. In addition I wrote down questions that I had for the interviewer. once I was done I studied my notes. Note taking not only helped me gain information about the position I was going for, it also put my mind at easy. This really helped decrease my anxiety level during the interview and helped me excel in the interview.

  • Mollie S.

    Over the summer, I interned at an insurance underwriting company in the accounting department. Never before have I fully understood why it is important to taken notes. Not only was there a massive amount of information to remember, but also my notes became back-up proof for why I posted a check the way I did.

    Plus I did not have to bother my boss with countless questions about little things because during training I had been very diligent about note-taking. I strongly agree with this article.

    Too often, I over estimate my recall ability. I think that if I pay close attention, I will remember. This is proved wrong about 95% of the time. Taking notes shows your diligence and overall interest in succeeding.

  • This is really important to me because I try and rely on my memory far too long. A few months ago, my supervisor had to talk to me about not asking questions that were already answered. I’ve purchased a notebook and am currently hand writing everything. However, after reading this article, I am going to start transcribing my notes to a Word document.

    This will also make my notes available for my team members who may not be able to attend the meeting, as we do not currently send out minutes. This creates some concern as to what was said and what was meant. Now, I will be able to submit my notes to my supervisor and if I misheard something (I’m a remote agent so a telecommute for meetings and it’s not always clear to understand what was said), he can correct me for accuracy.

  • Laurel z.

    I always take notes. It is important to have notes and questions ready before an interview. This way everything is clear and ready to go. I can get every question answered right away. Also during taking notes shows many things. It shows you want to work hard. That you want to make sure you do not forget anything and what the job is about. Notes are the best for remembering things but also shows the person interviewing you that you really want this job. That you want to work hard and do a proper job.

  • Bailey

    I enjoy taking notes because I feel confident that any
    questions pertaining to the subject matter, I will adequately be prepared to
    answer them correctly. I think note taking requires practice and an important
    life skill that many people lack. Note taking becomes especially important when
    attending school, but even more pertinent when used in order to further your
    career. I am very glad to know that this unique skill can be utilized in the
    work place and will definitely take this lesson into consideration when
    applying and interviewing for jobs and even after I am employed.

  • jorge ayllon

    Over the summer, I worked with a very powerful women. On the very first day on the job during orientation, she was giving a presentation as I took notes on my iPhone. Thinking I was texting, she told me to put my phone away, but I told her I wast taking notes. She then told me, “oh, well put your phone away and use paper and a pen.” However, she was impressed, and she let me know after the presentation how impress she was.
    After that she always asked me to do things instead of other employees and trusted me with important tasks. We are now good friends and stay in touch.

  • Heather W.

    At my most recent job, I was required to ‘job shadow’ other employees in the office to get a feel for their responsibilities and duties. Along the way, I would take notes since I knew I would need to report back to my supervisor on what I had learned. It was important for me to be able to recall details from these experiences rather than including general statements such as “I have a great appreciation for Jenn’s position” or “I learned a lot about how much work Kelly puts into her position”. Being able to recall specific details due to my note taking skills was evidence of how interested I was during the job shadowing and how serious I took this task. My supervisor was very impressed and actually learned a few things about the positions that she was not aware of!

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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.