Why you need to learn to brag – & create a brag book

Practice singing your own praises to a sympathetic audience. (Photo: Daniel Avocado / Unsplash)

If you are someone who shivers and shies away from sharing your accomplishments, you need a boost to boast.

And if you have trouble talking about your wins in job interviews, you need this blog post. And you may need to create a brag sheet or brag book for yourself. These may be helpful for job interviews, for college admissions and more. We know they will be useful to youth artists who are interviewing for the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program or as an intern.

“If you want to … talk about your accolades, then it’s really helpful to have external information or some sort of objective corroboration of how good you are,” Professor of psychology Erin O’Mara told Time magazine. People respond to bragging when it’s accurate, and not ambiguous or comparing yourself to others, her research found. “You have to walk a fine line in terms of presenting yourself as being competent but not too braggy.”

With that in mind, here are five pieces of advice on building your brag muscles.

Announce your accomplishments. Post on social media when you get on the dean’s list, or win a prestigious scholarship. Definitely announce if your art won a gold metal in the Scholastic Art Competition. Put these up as they happen, writes Meredith Fineman in a post on Shondaland. Add a link to your best work to your email signature. Or better yet, see if your Mom or favorite aunt will share the news of your accomplishments.

Keep it simple. Be brief and state the facts. And compare yourself to yourself, not others, with enthusiasm. This advice from Fairygodboss works for job interviews or networking events. Bragging works best when it comes with “brevity.” “Bragging is important because it helps us share our stories,” Catherine Odom, a high school senior said in a TedX talk about bragging. Be sensitive in your timing and specific in mentioning details about your hard work and success, she said.

Catherine Odom’s 9 – minute TedX talk about bragging shares history and advice.

Practice speaking your successes. Build your confidence. Get a good friend or family member to listen to you answer interview questions such as “Tell me about yourself.” “Describe a situation where you saved the day.” “What are your strengths?” “How will you contribute to our department?” These are invitations to brag and share your achievements, and learning to do that in a smart, succinct non-boastful way will be beneficial to you for many years. So practice this and practice some more. More job interview tips are here.

Avoid the humble-brag. This downplay your success while shining a light on it approach does not work. Researchers found that bragging is better than humble-bragging and those who ostensively combine humility with showing off are less liked and less trusted than others. “If you want to announce something, go with the brag and at least own your self-promotion and reap the rewards of being sincere, ” researcher and university professor Ovul Sezer told Time magazine.

Build a brag book. This is something you will use for most of your life. Your brag book could be something you share in a job interview, or it may be something you keep for yourself, to bolster you when you need a confidence boost. It may be virtual, or physical or both. If you want to create a brag book that works for your job search, check out this detailed guide from Five Strengths, which writes resumes for executives. And brag sheet templates are available online.

What goes into your brag book?  This list is a starting point of ideas:

  • Awards and recognitions
  • Scholarships received
  • Notes of praise and appreciation from clients, bosses, coworkers, volunteer leaders
  • Brochures or social media campaigns you designed
  • Posters you created
  • Images of your best art (not the originals)
  • Career or professional certificates or training completed
  • Your notes on a successful project
  • Letters of commendation or congratulations
  • Reference letters (copies only)
  • Your most recent transcript / grades, if your GPA is high
  • Media articles featuring you

Create a couple of copies of your brag book, with no original art or awards. If you are taking it to interviews.  Because if the interviewer wants to keep yours, that’s a very good sign.

© Vickie Elmer, 2024 (second photo: Jernej Graj / Unsplash)


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