When you’re in career transition, your resume must tell a compelling, striking and resonating story based on your history of accomplishments. Unfortunately, as time passes, you’ll be less likely to remember examples that date back to the 90s, 80s or earlier.
What is a brag book?
A brag book is a collection of career stories that highlight your qualifications and accomplishments throughout your career. Keep this at home, since the reality is that you may get a pink slip tomorrow. Also be sure to retain copies of your performance reviews as a cheat sheet of accomplishments.
Your brag book could be a physical collection – perhaps a binder with pages you can write on or add to, along with page protectors for storing related documents. You can also keep an electronic brag book as a folder on your computer or in a web-based application that synchronizes across all your devices (such as Dropbox or Evernote).
More than likely you’ll choose to combine these options. Be sure to cross-reference them so you know exactly what you’ve kept where.
How to use a brag book
Every time you accomplish or deliver something meaningful at work, simply note it down. You’re not telling the full story, just enough so that when it’s time to rewrite your resume, you’ll remember the details and it will make the process easier.
What kind of details should you capture?
I build resumes around STAR stories (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Visit the Elite Resumes website to see examples of resumes that get interviews.
We’re talking about really big wins here, for example, “Proactively led a 10-person team charged with completing the business critical and complex initiative, which was completed 3 weeks ahead of schedule and $105,000 under budget.” In corporate life, you’ll likely have an average of 1.5 of these major accomplishments per year.
What are the benefits of keeping a brag book?
Recalling the details of past achievements is challenging for us all. Introverts, in particular, have a harder time remembering and articulating stories confidently and clearly. The brag book can be incredibly useful, especially when they can just hand it off to a resume writer who can brag on their behalf.
Just keeping the record can increase your confidence, because you’re repeatedly focusing on what you’re good at and doing well. It’s the same principle behind keeping a gratitude journal, which helps you keep a positive mindset by focusing on the things you appreciate in your life.
You never know when you’re going to need a new resume. When you’re already dealing with the stress of career transition, a brag book simplifies the process, and can remind you of the many assets you have to offer to a new employer.