How a Brag Book Can Help Land Your Next Job or Promotion
It’s easy to spot a resume that’s written in a hurry or without a lot of care. It includes a lot of bullet points that don’t really express someone’s value. All the bullet points are structured like this: “action word + task.” It’s akin to writing, “Breathes air at work.” This doesn’t feel like much of a differentiator, does it?
For the last three years, I’ve been hiring attorneys, paralegals, and legal staff at my firm. I’ve hired more than 40% of my firm’s current workforce and a poorly written resume is a dead giveaway of someone who is wasting my time and their own.
Some of the best resumes that have come across my desk all have one thing in common: they include strong value statements. A value statement is a statement expressing the person’s value to their existing employer or organization. The key to writing a really great value statement starts with understanding your own value, which is easier said than done. Value can be expressed in various ways, but keeping track of it over long periods of time can be hard to do. That’s why I recommend keeping a Brag Book.
What Is a Brag Book?
A Brag Book is simply a place where you keep track of all your accomplishments and document your own performance. Brag Books can come in many forms and have many names. I’ve heard of senior leaders keeping “I Love Myself Memos” or a folder in Outlook with all the nice compliments their peers or clients have given them. Whatever the methodology for tracking, the purpose is always the same: keep tabs on your progress to help you communicate your value later on.
My personal style is a bit old school, but I use an Excel file where I keep a list of projects, significant responsibilities, financial goals and results, awards, qualitative achievements, and skills. I track my progress in qualitative and quantitative values on a monthly basis and take time quarterly to write out value statements based on major projects. Every six months I review my value statements for the strongest ones and update my resume and LinkedIn accordingly.
The result? If ever I need an updated resume, my current draft is never more than 6 months old and I’m not scrambling to do all the heavy editing right before I need it. I simply pull my value statements together into one document and use it to craft my self-evaluation.
How to Write a Good Value Statement
A value statement should provide scope, magnitude, and explain the impact of your accomplishment. Personally, I really like using a Google formula to plug in my key data points and accomplishments from my Brag Book. The formula is simple: Did X by doing Y resulting in Z.
Let’s compare two statements, one using the “action word + task” formula and one using the Google formula.
Here’s a quick example:
“Learned to write a brag book by listening to this podcast resulting in my ability to write better resumes, be better prepared for my annual performance reviews, and improve my ability to express my value to my organization.”
“Learned to write a brag book by listening to this podcast.”
The result of your accomplishments and how it impacted your growth and your organization’s growth convey your value and are a helpful nudge to your audience (your boss, the hiring manager, the recruiter, etc.) that you are worth investing in – whatever the price tag.
Benefits of Keeping a Brag Book
There are many benefits of keeping a Brag Book. First, they take the guesswork out of trying to remember your accomplishments should you need a resume update and second, they make annual performance reviews less daunting because they provide a clear outline of everything you’ve accomplished in the year.
Most importantly, they help you avoid underwhelming differentiators (like in our earlier example: no one’s impressed by your air-breathing, Brenda!). It’s not easy to keep tabs on all your achievements off the top of your head, but with a Brag Book, you don’t have to!
You deserve the time and dedication it takes to keep tabs on your accomplishments. Take a minute each month to acknowledge the great things you’re doing every day and put those numbers and well-written value statements down on paper.
Ready to Get Your Brag On?
Download my Brag Book Checklist here for help with writing your value statements and analyzing your past achievements, and let me know how your Brag Book comes together!
And if you’d like to learn even more about landing your next big promotion, join my free online workshop June 5th to learn how to make your Promotion Plan a reality. Learn more and register for free here.
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Jessica Aries is an internationally recognized legal marketer and law firm executive. For the last ten years, she’s been helping senior leaders become irresistibly hireable at some of the largest global companies in the world. Leveraging her deep understanding of marketing, professional development, and leadership, Jessica focuses her attention on helping mid-career professionals make the leap from corner cubicle to corner office. To learn more about Jessica, visit www.byaries.com.