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Apr 19 2013

Guest post by Matthew Levy:

I know what you are thinking: mom told me that bragging is a bad thing.  I agree that in many situations bragging is not a trait that you want to be associated with.  In fact, word association may yield terms such as arrogant, audacious and egotistical.

However, I’d like to a make the claim that while in job search mode, if going about it in the right way, “bragging” might just be the key differentiator between getting the offer and coming in second place.  We all know what second place feels like in the interview process – no one remembers the bridesmaid, only the bride.

Talk About YOUR Accomplishments with Taste

The key here is to get clarity on your career accomplishments and get comfortable talking about them!  Yes, there have been many articles written on how to verbally convey your accomplishments during an interview (for example, the STAR methodology: answering a question by articulating the situation/task, the action you took and end result).

Instead, the subject of this article is how to differentiate yourself by assembling a “brag book” as a leave- behind at the end of a job interview.  The brag book is best used during the interview process and not so much during the networking process (a bio is a better bet while networking; see this article for more information).

What is a brag book?

It’s a collection of documents that demonstrates and validates your candidacy as a professional in your field of expertise.  It is one stop shopping where you can reinforce to the interviewer that you are the real deal and not just a smooth talker!  After all, if you are pretty good at interviewing – you have practiced a lot, you understand that every interview question falls into one of three categories (Do I like you? Are you motivated? Can you do the job?), and you answer these questions clearly and concisely using the STAR methodology –  the interviewer will be impressed but may be wondering if you are all sizzle and no steak!   The brag book shows that there is substance behind your interview answers.

The brag book should be a polished piece bound by a presentation binder (or similar item found in your local office supply store).  It should include a table of contents.  All documents should be in a similar font with your name, contact information and page numbers.

Here are some suggestions for key documents to be included in your very own brag book:

Table of Contents – includes your name and the position and company you are interviewing along with page numbers

Resume – tailored to the job for which you are interviewing

Bio – Your one page bio – see link above for more information

Professional Organizations – demonstrates that you get involved in your function/industry, that you are aware of best practices, or can quickly find out about best practices in your area of expertise and may show your leadership skills

Awards – shows your level of expertise and, likely, your willingness to go above and beyond

Letters of Recommendation – letters from former bosses, colleagues and mentors, etc. – powerful because what others say about you can be more impactful than what you say about yourself

Endorsements and Testimonials – gather all of the great things that have been said about you – examples include “great job” emails and LinkedIn recommendations

References – a list of key stakeholders who will vouch for you as an employee and person of character

Click Here to See an Example

Once assembled, you have a great leave behind to remind and reinforce to the interviewer who you are and what you bring to the party!  In summary, your brag book:

  • Shows that there is substance behind your interview answers
  • Provides a leave-behind to help the interviewer remember you
  • Differentiates you from the competition
  • Demonstrates by your effort that you are sincerely interested in the job

So what does the finished document actually look like?  In order to provide you with a template and some ideas, I’ve uploaded a sample into my LinkedIn profile.  Comments, questions, suggestions and success stories are always welcome.  In the meantime, get out there and differentiate yourself with your own brag book!

Lastly, if you’d like to attract top employers to your LinkedIn profile, check out Joshua’s LinkedIn Writing Service.


Matthew Levy is a well-rounded HR professional with fifteen years of broad experience in both specialist (e.g., recruiting) and generalist (e.g., HR business partner) roles. You can see Matt’s bio by visiting his LinkedIn profile. He blogs and can be followed on Twitter at @mlevy7.  Matt would love to answer your career-related questions.  You can reach him via email.

Originally posted 2010-01-25 11:20:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

14 Responses to “How to Use a Brag Book to Differentiate Yourself from the Competition”

  1. Debbi Lloyd Thanks Debbi!

  2. Debbi Lloyd says:

    I crazy love this idea Joshua, will start to work on this project right away.   And to Rachelle R. thanks for the book tip.   Great blog.

  3. PeterJDeRogatis says:

    What do you think of the idea of a multimedia bragbook, online?  A new site recently launched that offers this service at http://www.bragbookmm.com.  I think it can certainly help job seekers stand out and differentiate their candidacy.

  4. [email protected] says:

    A fresh idea, thanks.

  5. There’s a book called How to Design, Write, and Compile a Brag Book that’s a really great resource. The book was written by teena rose. If you conduct an online search for teena rose and brag book, you’ll find her website … or, I suppose you could search for the above book title and find it that way. Good luck to you!

    • Rachelle, Teena does a great job. I’ve reviewed several of her books on this blog and recommend my readers to take advantage of her résumé writing services. I’m so glad you’ve found her too.

  6. Michelle Whalen says:

    Great article and think this will be a great tool for me. I’ve also used a portfolio to show during interviews but a leave behind is better. What do you think of also including samples of work or 1 pager case studies on some larger projects/accomplishments?

  7. Michelle Whalen says:

    Great article and think this will be a great tool for me. I’ve also used a portfolio to show during interviews but a leave behind is better. What do you think of also including samples of work or 1 pager case studies on some larger projects/accomplishments?

  8. Greta Gumond says:

    This is a timely article for me… I have had a “Brag Book” for many years (then…Pharmaceutical Industry, to…Consultative Sales/Marketing/Project Management, now…????), but have never used it as a leave-behind tool!

    As I am in the market for transitioning back into the corporate world, I definitely plan on using this idea!! I recently went on an interview with my brag book to find I was the only one who presented this for review. I had tagged pages that were applicable for that particular target job…but recreating a custom leave-behind would have been even more impressive!

    Thanks, Greta

  9. Greta Gumond says:

    This is a timely article for me… I have had a “Brag Book” for many years (then…Pharmaceutical Industry, to…Consultative Sales/Marketing/Project Management, now…????), but have never used it as a leave-behind tool!

    As I am in the market for transitioning back into the corporate world, I definitely plan on using this idea!! I recently went on an interview with my brag book to find I was the only one who presented this for review. I had tagged pages that were applicable for that particular target job…but recreating a custom leave-behind would have been even more impressive!

    Thanks, Greta

  10. Matt, Great idea. A nice way to differentiate yourself from other candidates.

    Joshua, Thanks so much for sharing!
    .-= Michael Sigler´s last blog ..Persistence results in rewards =-.

  11. Matt, Great idea. A nice way to differentiate yourself from other candidates.

    Joshua, Thanks so much for sharing!
    .-= Michael Sigler´s last blog ..Persistence results in rewards =-.

  12. LOL I totally have one of these. Except I call it a “portfolio”. Brag Book sounds much cooler, though.
    .-= Marian Schembari´s last blog ..Some Long Overdue Publishing Info =-.

  13. LOL I totally have one of these. Except I call it a “portfolio”. Brag Book sounds much cooler, though.
    .-= Marian Schembari´s last blog ..Some Long Overdue Publishing Info =-.

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