Developing a Brag Book (aka Portfolio)

 In Branding, Career Tips, Resumes and Cover Letters

Developing a Brag Book (aka Portfolio)If it’s true that a picture is worth 1,000 words, why don’t jobseekers come to job interviews prepared to show and tell?

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:

Work-Related Documentation

  • 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

Education/Training

  • 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

Feedback/Testimonials/Endorsements

  • 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

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