That's a bold statement, isn't it? Everyone should have a brag file. Business owners. Entrepreneurs. Career women. Future career women. Even high school and college students would be wise to implement one.
So what is this all important file? A brag file tracks all your notable accomplishments, big or small. It's similar to a portfolio, but only similar. Did you nail a presentation or sale that netted huge profit for your company? Perhaps, like me, you were suddenly thrown in charge of your team while boarding the plane and you smoothly led them through a hiccup-free bussiness trip and client site visit. (Holy run on sentence, Batman!) Maybe you received a complimentary email from a happy client or patient. WRITE THESE THINGS DOWN. Keep a digital copy of letters or supporting documentation. Depending on where you use an accomplishment for leverage, you might need that support. (Side note: I don't mean leverage in a creepy, sneaky, or corrupt way.)
I organize my file by year. Each Janaury is a clean slate of opportunity. You can be as fancy or simple as you like. In the beginning, mine was a simple Word document. Ensure the document is backed up so you can still access it if something happens to the master file. It is not a time consuming endeavor. Once it's set up, you track as you go. Most additions should take less than five minutes.
The idea for a brag file arrived in my early twenties after surviving a few years of performance appraisals. Surprise! I hated them. Nothing made my anxiety skyrocket more than going into a room to be informed of my shortcomings. I couldn't remember 90% of what I had accomplished in the previous year, which did not help my attitude. To be fair, my strengths were discussed at length. My manager always had wonderful things to say. Still, I knew those sessions could go even better and my ratings would improve that much more if I did my part and contributed to the conversation.
Here's the thing: most bosses don't track everything you do. They might not make note of anything. If they've kept track of something it's because someone else has brought it to their attention, it was a huge accomplishment, or it was a major fail. Bosses don't have time to track everything you do. Additionally, you are all professionals, regardless of where you are in life. Your professional advancement and well-being is your responsibility. As such, the brag file is a massive asset. Examples of its potential utilization include:
1. Writing any optional or required self-appraisals.
2. Responding to a performance appraisal with which you do not fully agree. Supporting documentation is important here!
3. Tweaking your resume and/or cover letter for a specific job. What have you done that would persuade a prospective employer to hire you?
4. Pitching your products or services to a prospective client.
5. Pick-me-up. We all have bad days on the job. We all have moments where we doubt our abilities or direction. Put down the glass of wine. A glance at your file when you've been knocked down will remind you what an empowered boss babe you are.
6. Posture. You know you've accomplished incredible things. It's in writing. You can walk into any meeting, presentation, or interview knowing exactly what you bring to the table. You know they are lucky to have you.
7. Goal creation and vision. When you know what you have accomplished, it is easier to decide what you want to do next.
8. Salary and benefit negotiations. If you want a raise or a higher starting salary, the ticket just might be in your file.
9. Jumping back into your field after staying home with babies. Perhaps you volunteered, created something amazing, or fell into an unexpected opportunity that wasn't a job. Did you join the PTA, create a small business for grocery money, or focus on helping others? Getting back into the working world after babies can be frustratingly and appallingly difficult. Be diligent in this and see the difference it makes.
Do you see what an asset this is to your career? Do you see how it helps you build your confidence and take control of said career? The brag file is a MUST. I only provided a handful of ways this can help you. Do you already have one? Can it be improved? Go ahead and make it happen. I will wait right here for you.