Updated: Jun 6, 2020
A professional brag sheet is a list of positive comments from clients, bosses, colleagues, and anyone you interface with at work. It reads like a list of testimonials, similar to what you’d find on the back of a book. These snippets describe people’s experience with you. You can leverage these comments, by gathering them into a powerful document called a brag sheet.
Who can benefit from using a brag sheet?
In my opinion, anyone applying themselves in competitive, performance-oriented field can benefit from the use of a professional brag sheet. Whether you’re in medicine, tech, or business, this strategy can help you stand out from the pack.
Since I’m a physician, I’ve been through multiple rounds of applications. First, there was applying to medical school, internship and residency. Then, I applied for fellowship, and finally, for my first “grown up” job, an attending level position. In medicine, applications are comprised of a curriculum vitae (CV), a personal statement, and letters of recommendation. In addition, I gathered my best feedback from residency, and included a curated brag sheet with my fellowship applications. This is part of the reason I was invited to interview at many top programs around the country. Later, when I was looking for a permanent position, I included an updated brag sheet, which served as a chorus of comments attesting to what it was like to work with me.
How do you build a brag sheet?
I use an online document to keep a running list of positive comments I receive at work. A Google doc can be accessed from any computer, or even my smartphone. Using an accessible document helps to ensure I capture as many brags as possible. A written list in a notebook or planner can also work. Since paper is immediately accessible, you can capture positive comments right away. Scrawled comments can later be transferred to an electronic document, making collating, printing, and sharing your brag sheet easier. I recommend writing down compliments as soon as you get them. Document them as close to word-for-word as you can. Note the date, and who made the comment.
The brag sheet serves best as an extender of your resume, not a rehash of it. You can use your list of compliments to highlight points that are not traditionally included on a CV.
Examples of comments to save include, but aren’t limited to:
Expressions of gratitude
Results: proof of how your ideas or leadership have increased business, increased customer satisfaction, or improved team morale
Here are some of my own examples:
Data: A quality assurance (QA) report of my diagnostic work showing 98% reviewer agreement and no serious errors.
Volunteer activities: A lecture for interns on image-guided procedures and how to work with the interventional radiology department.
Comments from staff:
“We love working with you.” -Interventional radiology technologist
Comments from a superior:
“I wanted you to hear from me that you are doing a great job. We are very satisfied.” -Department Chair
“I hope you’re enjoying being here all month; it’s great to have you here.” -Department Chair
Accolades from patients & their families:
“Thank you for explaining everything so clearly.”
“(You’re) my favorite! This procedure is much easier when you do it! Can I have your schedule?”
“I trust your judgement.” - a fellow Radiologist
“You did a TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt)? Most impressive!” -Surgeon
“Thank you for making my job so easy! We love you in pathology. Whenever we see your name on a requisition, we are excited that we are going to have a great sample. You’re amazing!”-Pathology tech
“You did a bone biopsy on my patient, and she was raving about you and how there was no pain!” -Oncologist
“You are my hero.” -Gastroenterologist, after agreeing to attempt a tough case on her patient
“You are well-respected.” -Hospital Physician Relations Manager
“We really appreciate your opinions and all the work you do. It’s great to have you here to weigh in.” -Director of our Cancer Center
In what situations can you use your brag sheet?
As a resume/ CV booster
As part of an application
As a conversation starter on an interview
As a confidence builder
To lift your spirits on a tough day
What if it feels like bragging?
Leveraging a list of compliments isn’t bragging. These are other people speaking for you and about you. Your professional brag sheet represents the skills and quality you bring to your work, for the benefit of others. If you want something, a brag sheet might just help you get it.
This has been a powerful strategy in my own career. How can using a brag sheet help you? Share your ideas in the comments, and take action.
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