Bragging? That may sound a bit off-putting to some of you. Fortunately, there is no shouting or arrogant behavior required. A brag sheet is a resource you create to document and present your career accomplishments. It is time to learn the art of self promotion. The first step is to create a record of all your great work – a brag sheet!
Why Do I Need A Brag Sheet?
There are three main reasons to create a brag sheet of your accomplishments. It all comes down to actively managing your career. As former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani famously said, “hope is not a strategy.” By the same token, you cannot rely on your manager’s memory (or your own) to keep a full inventory of all the great work you do.
- Managing your current job better. You can use it to share your accomplishments in meetings with your boss and during performance reviews. The brag sheet is also a resource for those who have recurring monthly or weekly meetings with their boss.
- Improved Job Hunting Results. The brag sheet helps you to prepare your resume and prepare answers for job interviews. Trying to recall the details of a project you completed a year or two ago is much easier if you have a short summary to prompt your memory.
- Mental Boost. We all have difficult days from time to time. One answer to such days is to read Stoic philosophy. Reviewing your past success – as documented in the brag sheet – is another way to boost your spirits.
What You Need To Write Your Brag Sheet
As with any project, there are a number of inputs you need to gather in order to write and maintain a useful brag sheet. Let’s review the main points that go into this document. If this process looks overwhelming, break it down into steps. You could even make a summer project at work to better document your career accomplishments.
- Create Folder or Document For Your Brag Sheet. Use Evernote, a folder on your computer or your word processing software of choice to collect all the material in one place. If you create this document on your office computer, make sure to print a copy (or make a digital copy) for your records at home.
- Read You Job Description. Reviewing your job description is an excellent way to get the right language for your brag sheet. For example, your job posting may use the term “continuous process improvement.” If so, you can use that as one of the headings in your brag sheet.
- Track Your Numbers. As the Career Tools podcast has explained, it is vital to track your results at your work. In sales, you can track revenue, number of customer meetings and more. In project management, you can track customer satisfaction through surveys, budget management and other factors. You may also want to compare how your results this y ear compare to last year.
- Review and Add Comments From Customers, Peers & Others. Have you ever received a thank you note from a peer or a customer for work you did? That is great material to include in your Brag Sheet files. If you receive verbal thanks, ask for the person to send you a short (1-3 sentence is great) email so you can add it to your files.
- Review Your Calendar For Accomplishments. Your calendar is a rich source of data. In this process, review your past month of calendar in Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar or your calendar tool of choice. Look for meetings, appointments with yourself and other entries where key decisions were made. Remember that well run meetings are a key way to build professional relationships.
- Read Your Annual Review & Meetings With Your Manager. Meetings with your manager are a rich source of information about your responsibilities. In particular, look for those “oh, can you do this piece of work?” one off assignments. It is easy to lose track of these points. In addition, take note of feedback your manager has given you. If you can document how you have put the feedback into action, you will show your commitment to improve.
- Review Email for Evidence of Accomplishments. Email remains the workhorse of the professional world. Start by reviewing the emails you have sent over the past month. I recommend starting with sent emails because they are likely to contain reports and other work products. That is more material to add to your Brag Sheet files.
How To Use Your Brag Sheet To Get Promoted
Once you have assembled your brag sheet files, it is time to put that resource into action. Here are a few tips to use your brag sheet to win your next promotion. Your brag sheet gives you a full picture of your accomplishments. With that information in place, you can grow to your next role.
1. Decide on a Target Job Title
In order to be promoted, you need to have some idea of what job you like to have. For example, do you want to be promoted to a manager role in your current department? Or are you looking at switching to a senior role in a different division? Aim to come up with at least two possible job titles (e.g. IT Project Manager, Change Management Manager or Program Manager).
Tip: Use Indeed.com to search for job postings if you cannot find any through your current organization.
2. Check Off The Basics First
Before you start a campaign for promotion, review the basics of your career. Are you delivering on your current job’s responsibilities to an acceptable (or better) level? Regarding the targeted job title, look for the hard requirements such as required education and certifications (e.g. do you need to earn the PMP certification to get promoted?).
3. Link Your Brag Sheet To The Target Title
It is time to go into analysis mode! Read a job description for your target job title and compare that to your brag sheet. Many professionals use the job expansion strategy to add new responsibilities over time. As a result, you may already be doing some of the activities needed to be promoted.
4. Validate Your Analysis With Your Network
Once you have your brag sheet and analysis of your target job title in place, it is time to validate your analysis. Contact two or three people in your network to seek their advice. For the best results, ask 2-3 focused questions such as “how do I show evidence of financial management skills?” or “how do I explain my management approach?”