reader question: “I forgot WIDD”

I had an interesting question from NH Mom of 3 about my WIDD idea. A WIDD, in case you don’t remember, is a “what I done did” file – a record you keep of all of the projects and details of your past positions.

“I wonder, is there a way to “cram” and get down onto paper what you have done on past assignments to make a starter WIDD file? I an in between positions currently (not of my choice, and not planned!) and am starting to interview elsewhere. Any advice?”

My response was that I think if I was trying to recreate a WIDD file from scratch, the very first thing I would do is contact anyone who I’d stayed in touch with from that job and ask them what I did. It sounds strange, but it is the simplest way to get started. Either your former colleague will remember (maybe they worked on the same project, or they supervised you or were supervised by you) or your ex-colleague will at least trip off a few associations in your head that might help.

I had a former colleague call me about a month ago to ask me if I remembered the name of a project we’d worked on five years ago.
Fortunately, I had my records and was able to help her out. Try reaching out to some of your former coworkers! People are usually happy to hear from former colleagues and also usually happy to help. You have to admit to yourself the possibility that your former coworkers might be more organized than you are, or simply have better memories.

If that doesn’t help, you can always look back through any old calendars or appointment books you might have. Most people keep some sort of calendar with important dates on it. Even if the calendar has minimal details, look at it. I recreated a few of my projects in Europe once by looking at my (paper at the time) calendar with flight information on it. Seeing “10:15 am flight to Kiev” jogged my memory about a particular project I did there that I had forgotten about.

But none of your former colleagues are available, you tossed all of your calendars and you’re getting frustrated. Try a memory-jogging exercise. Sit down in a quiet place and start trying to remember your jobs. I’m not talking about the projects you worked on or the duties you had. I’m just talking about the physical aspects of your job. Think about the faces of your former colleagues. Think about where the coffee machine was. Recall your desk. Keep a blank piece of paper next to you and scribble down anything that occurs to you. Go back after a day and look at the notes again and see if it has sparked a memory.

When all of this fails, I would suggest hitting the Internet and finding a job description similar to the one you had. Many companies will advertise job specifications on sites like These descriptions may either serve to refresh your memory or give you a starting point to just create a bare-bones description.

Thanks to NH Mom of 3 for the question! If you have questions, feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to answer either by email or here on brip blap!

Creative Commons License photo credit: CJ Sorg


  • You might also talk to friends & family – if you kvetched or bragged about something specific you did, they may also remember. Do you have any prior performance assessment paperwork? Annual merit review info? Did you save any emails from that period of time (I send myself things I need to remember to my home email all the time – or that I want to keep track of)? Sometimes if you begin a random word association starting from a project you do remember, that will stimulate your brain to start digging!

    I discovered a very good site that gives you a 360 view of every thing you should be prepared for when you interview. I get asked for advice alot (I am a recruiting director) and I think this is the best site because lots of advice for multiple sources is listed here. I have no affiliation with the site – just think it’s good info.

    Tell NH Mom of 3 I wish her good luck on her job search!

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