The Power of Me: How to Brag at Work
Learn how to connect with co-workers, get recognized for promotions and raises, and provide structure to consistently build your resume.
Do you want to improve awareness and recognition of your work, but don’t feel comfortable with the idea of “bragging”? If you were raised like me to keep your head down and not draw attention to yourself, the idea of “bragging” at work might sound unthinkable. But hear me out: Who’s going to advocate for us if we don’t advocate for ourselves? Let’s start a conversation about the value of promoting ourselves at work, share some real-life examples (with templates!), and provide some inspiration for you to give it a try.
"Who's going to advocate for us if we don't advocate for ourselves?"
The topic of bragging at work came up during a chat with Michelle Toth, the founder of Brilliant Muse, about impact reporting. These reports align to the client goals and are one of the awesome ways Brilliant Muse shows value. But there was an opportunity to put them together more efficiently while also helping Musers have an emotional connection to their work. I suggested the Brag Doc by Julia Evans as a way to make impact tracking easier, more personal, and actually help folks advocate for themselves (more on this later).
"...it can be dangerous to assume that we and the people around us are always aware of all of our accomplishments."
I connected with Charlie Deese, another Muser, who is a seasoned self-promoter who also helps others with resume building and career coaching. She once collaborated with The Muse to share more about her experience transitioning into digital marketing. Combining her experience with the brag doc, we worked together to enhance impact reporting as a way to practice self-promotion at work. We acknowledged that most people are uncomfortable with the idea of bragging at work, and there’s a distinction between boasting and sharing that you’re proud of your work. But there’s a need for us to promote ourselves at work because it can be dangerous to assume that we and the people around us are always aware of all of our accomplishments. We created a workshop called the “The Value of Bragging at Work” to introduce the concept and inspire the team to start bragging, using our team meetings to share with each other.
Over the year we’ve learned so much and want to share some best practices and learnings:
Promoting yourself is good for your mental health.
For me, giving myself more opportunities to remind myself of accomplishments and goals provided positive affirmation and motivation during the emotional ups and downs that occur throughout the quarter as you celebrate wins or encounter new challenges. This is backed up by mental health research which suggests optimism and self-affirmation are linked to positive self-esteem and mental well-being. Also consider this study where psychologists set up five brain imaging experiments and found that when subjects shared information about themselves, the same areas of the brain activated as those that light up when we are eating food or having sex!
Brag docs can save time if you keep your docs in a row. 🦆
A brag doc is a living document you maintain with goals and accomplishments from your work and personal life. You’re encouraged to use your authentic voice so your brag doc can become an extension of how you want to show up in the world. My brag doc has become my source of truth, the first place I add goals and accomplishments that are important to me. I copy and paste directly from my brag doc to impact reporting, which has been a relief for me and my manager to not scramble to remember all of my achievements at the end of the quarter. It would also be handy when updating your resume or prepping for job interviews. Here’s a copy of the brag doc template we use at Brilliant Muse.
Focus on how you can tell your story and connect faster.
Besides what you share on a resume, work portfolio, or social media, how can you control the narrative of the story you want to tell? Goals and accomplishments from my brag doc have been referenced by new teams I’ve joined, often in ways that start conversations and ultimately help build trust with my coworkers. For example, I added that learning Spanish was a goal for me and a coworker who speaks Spanish offered to help practice conversation together.
Start small if you’re still unsure.
It's tough to remember all of the things we do and accomplish day-to-day, especially for our managers. Even if brag docs and writing articles aren’t for you, what’s the harm in trying one thing to promote yourself at work tomorrow? It could be something as small as telling a coworker you finished reading a book. It took time for me to practice the muscle of maintaining my brag doc, but it’s led me to more opportunities to share my story, like writing this blog post. What do you have to lose by trying?
So, what do you think about self-promotion in the workplace? Have you tried anything else to self-promote that worked or didn’t? Download our copy of the brag doc template and give it a try. Let’s practice how we talk about ourselves so we can all celebrate each other a little more!
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