Developing a Brag Book (aka Portfolio)
One of the best ways to do this is with a “brag book,” otherwise known as a portfolio, leave-behind, or interview presentation binder.
While portfolios are expected in certain “creative” professions, jobseekers in many more “traditional” fields could benefit from preparing a brag book to use in an interview.
Putting one together is an excellent way to prepare for a job interview, and it is an excellent confidence booster. There’s just something about seeing all of your accomplishments in print that boosts your confidence and self-esteem.
A portfolio is useful in a job search to:
- Tangibly showcase your accomplishments
- Document the breadth/depth of your educational credentials, training, and professional development
- Set you apart from other candidates who are interviewed for the job
- Give you a “prop” to make you more comfortable answering questions in the interview
- Allow you to provide greater depth and detail about your qualifications than you can on the résumé alone
Posting a portfolio online can help set you apart from other candidates in a competitive job market. You can link to your digital portfolio on your LinkedIn profile as well as provide a link to the portfolio on your résumé.
The brag book is primarily designed to be used in the job interview — both to illustrate your qualifications and (possibly) as a leave-behind piece. Developing a customized brag book for use as a leave-behind can be a very effective strategy. It shows you prepared for the interview.
Not in a job search? A portfolio can be useful in your current job — for example, in a performance evaluation meeting or when requesting a raise and/or promotion.
You never know when you’ll hear of a great new opportunity; having a portfolio and continuing to add to it over time will be much less stressful than putting one together the night before an interview. Your brag book – like your career – is a “work in progress”!
What To Put In Your Brag Book
How do you decide what to include in your brag book?
- Review your résumé and identify any portfolio pieces that could substantiate your experience, education, training, or other qualifications.
- Think about the responsibilities of the position you are seeking. Are there any skills that the position requires that you want to showcase your experience with — for example, writing, photography, social media, or leadership?
Here are some of the kinds of things you can put in your brag book:
- Performance evaluations (or excerpts of evaluations) from supervisors or managers
- Work samples (projects, newsletters, photographs, case studies, proposals, surveys)
- Papers/reports/publications you’ve authored
- Samples of communication/writing skills (writing samples)
- Evidence of computer/multimedia skills
- Logs/lists/charts that document your performance
- Sales information — but make sure you are not disclosing confidential information
- 30-60-90 Day Plan — what you plan to do in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job in your new position
- A copy of your college or university transcript
- Copies of the certificates or diplomas for trainings/workshops/degrees listed on your résumé
- For recent graduates, examples of major class assignments – report, presentation, or project
Awards and Honors
- If you mentioned an award on the résumé, include a copy of the certificate or photo of the trophy
- Photos of individual or team participation in an event or award
- Copies of any thank you letters you’ve received, including letters and emails from customers and/or co-workers
- Letters of recommendation from previous supervisors and managers
- List of references
- LinkedIn Recommendations — you can either select a few and put one on each page, or put together a page of Recommendation excerpts
Community or Organizational Involvement
- List of professional affiliations, including leadership roles
- Clubs or activities you’re involved with
- Photos of events you helped organize
- Newspaper clippings featuring you at work or your involvement in charity work or with a nonprofit organization
Other Documentation to Include
- Personal statement or philosophy
- Career overview (bio or list of positions/dates)
- Photographs of you in action (on the job, or involved in volunteer activities)
- Photo of you delivering a presentation
Once you have your information assembled there are several ways to create your physical portfolio and/or an online version. For more details, drop me an email and I’ll be happy to forward instructions.
Kathy Keshemberg is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer and Certified Career Management Coach. Since 1983, she has created thousands of interview-winning resumes and related job-search materials for satisfied clients around the world. Need assistance with your career? We’re here to help! www.acareeradvantage.com