Tag Archive for: Five Strengths

Don’t Forget to Back Up Your LinkedIn Profile

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Content Library Access: Outplacement

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Confidential Job Search

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Can I Get a “Generic” Resume?

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Explaining Résumé Tense

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Dispelling the One-Page Resume Myth

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Developing a Brag Book

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Job Search Library Categories

Applying for a Job


Career Change

Career Planning

Evaluating a Job Offer



Looking for a Job

Losing Your Job



Social Media

Developing a Brag Book

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 together a brag book is also an excellent way to prepare for a job interview, as it can be used to reflect on what knowledge, skills, and abilities will be most relevant for the targeted position.

A brag book is also an excellent confidence booster. There’s just something about seeing all of your accomplishments in print that boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

A brag book 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 yoau 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.

A brag book can also be used in your current job — for example, in a performance evaluation meeting or when requesting a raise and/or promotion.

Brag books support your qualifications as a candidate. The purpose of the brag book is to substantiate the information contained in your résumé and on your LinkedIn profile. Thus, your résumé and LinkedIn profile are the best place to start when compiling your brag book.

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 education, experience, 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:


  • A copy of your college or university transcript
  • Copies of the certificates or diplomas for trainings/workshops/degrees listed on your résumé
  • Example of major class assignments — report, presentation, or project (for recent graduates)
  • Documentation of knowledge of a foreign language (certificate, grade, or test result)
  • Licenses

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

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
  • Scholarships received


  • Include 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
  • Résumé
  • LinkedIn summary
  • 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

How to Create Your Brag Book

You can make an excellent hard copy (physical) brag book for under $30 — but you may decide to invest more, depending on how many pages/sections you include.

First, assemble any and all materials you are considering including in your brag book. Start a file of all of the documents that you may possibly want to include.

Some tips:

  • If you don’t already have them, contact previous supervisors and request letters of recommendation.
  • Call your college or university and request a copy of your transcript. Or check the school’s website — some allow you to order transcripts online. If you have to, pay for a certified copy of your transcript rather than logging into an online account and simply printing out a list of classes.

Next, review your materials to prioritize what to include.

Create a logical order and structure for your brag book. This can be reverse chronological or by section. Start with your most recent accomplishment and work backwards.

Your brag book should be 10-25 pages in length.

If it’s more than 20 pages, it should include a table of contents, listing the documents that are included (although you do not have to number the pages).

Consider creating sections to make it easy to navigate. If dividing the brag book into sections, use professional divider tabs. You can purchase these in an office supply store. Generally, a 5-tab or 8-tab configuration is sufficient.

You can purchase a view binder from an office supply store. Choose the most durable (heavy-duty) option they sell — and opt for the “D” ring style instead of the standard “O” ring. (This makes it easier to turn the pages.) A 1” or 1-1/2” size is sufficient to start.

Have a cover made for your portfolio. Title it “Professional Portfolio of [Your Name].”

This is easily done on Fiverr.com (www.fiverr.com). For $5, you can have a flat image designed. Search for an ebook cover designer. This one was designed by a designer named Vikiana (www.fiverr.com/vikiana). Send along a high resolution photo of yourself.

For an extra $20, you can get both a front and back cover, plus a spine design.

Purchase clear sheet protectors — the kind you can slip sheets of paper into. Either top-loading or side-loading sleeves will work. Purchase the heaviest (strongest) ones they have — and make sure they will hold 4-5 sheets of paper. (You will include multiple copies of each page in one sheet protector, so you can give a copy to the interviewer — at their request.)

Have color laser prints/copies made of your photos and documents — or, if you print them yourself, make sure you choose the highest quality setting on your printer. Color prints are preferable to black-and-white.

Do not, under any circumstance, include original documents in your brag book (except for your résumé). This way, if you are asked for your transcript, for example, you’re giving the interviewer a copy (one of several you’ve made), not your only copy (your original).

Take the time to “polish” the materials. For example, type a key phrase or phrase from a performance evaluation on a single sheet, listing the name of the supervisor who wrote it and the date of the review. This makes your brag book more “scannable.”

Design your pages. Don’t just include a photo — to be sure to put a description of what’s going on in the photo, who is in the photo (identify the scene/setting/participants), and your role. Use captions to explain/highlight the specific skills or experience you are emphasizing (if the item is not self-explanatory).

Proofread and edit carefully. Review all the materials in your brag book for typos, spelling, grammar, and formatting issues. Have a friend or family member proofread it too.

When possible, tailor your brag book specifically for a desired job. If you use a 3-ring binder with page protector sheets, you can simply insert the pages you want to include for a particular job interview. For example, if the position requires public speaking skills, include a photo of you delivering a presentation to a large crowd. If the position does not require presentation skills, then you could leave that page out.

For maximum results, personalize the portfolio — especially if it’s a leave-behind piece.

The first page should include some or all of the following information:

  • Full contact information — your name, address, cell phone, email
  • Your LinkedIn URL
  • Job title and company name for the position being sought
  • Your photo (either a professional photo or a photo of you at work)

A few more tips:

  • Choose only the best examples of your work to include.
  • Carefully cultivate items to include that provide concrete evidence of your skills.
  • When in doubt, leave it out. If you are not sure if you should include a particular item, don’t put it in your portfolio.

Creating Online Brag Books

According to a 2012 survey conducted by Hams Interactive, 37% of hiring personnel use social websites to check on clients. A digital portfolio is one way to highlight what hiring managers will find about you online.

A digital or online version of a brag book has several advantages. Creating duplicate physical brag books is time intensive and can get expensive. Digital brag books can be copied and customized very easily. They are also easily shared with prospective employers. A digital brag book is also easier to keep updated.

Another advantage of a digital brag book is the multimedia capabilities — you can include video, audio files, photos, and document files.

One new, innovative way to create a brag book online is to use Pinterest (www.pinterest.com). Because Pinterest is a visual medium, search out images to represent career milestones — for example, a photo of you in a cap and gown with your diploma, and then a close-up of your diploma. Or a photo of you receiving a sales award, and then a scan of the award certificate. Pinterest also allows you to pin videos, so you can include a video of you making a presentation, for example.

Do you work with recognizable client companies? Assemble their logos in a collage labeled “Key Clients” or “Strategic Account Management.”

You can also create a PowerPoint presentation and save it as a PDF file that you can bring up on an iPad or other tablet device in a job interview. Here’s a PowerPoint presentation example:

Microsoft offers numerous free PowerPoint templates:


Using a Brag Book in an Interview

Before using a brag book in an interview, you will need to practice. Incorporate your brag book as part of your natural conversation. Role-play an interview with a friend, colleague, or family member, and practice referring to your brag book to answer questions.

At the beginning of the job interview, let the interviewer know you’ve prepared a “portfolio” that illustrates your qualifications and accomplishments. Offer to let him/her review it. If the interviewer declines, set it aside until you need it to illustrate a point or answer a question in the interview.

You can offer the brag book again at the conclusion of the interview. In general, you will not want to leave your brag book with the interviewer, unless you are specifically asked to do so. Being asked to leave it is a great sign that the interview went well.

However, don’t plan on getting a leave-behind brag book returned. If you don’t get offered the job, you can follow up and request the book back, but don’t be surprised if the interviewer can’t locate it, or says it’s been discarded. This happens. Instead, consider creating a specific leave-behind version of your brag book. You can have a bound book made at your local office supply store. Have your customized cover printed on cardstock, and have the book wire-bound or spiral-bound.

If you have not created a specific leave-behind portfolio and you are asked to leave a brag book with the interviewer, immediately start working on creating a replacement book. If you get the original book back, you’ll have a spare. This is also why it’s important not to include original photos or documents in your brag book.

Be Ready

Building your brag book from scratch will take some time, but you can start small and improve it over time. Keep it updated and when an opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready to respond.

Connecting with Hiring Managers

Connecting with Hiring Managers

Job Search Library Categories

Applying for a Job


Career Change

Career Planning

Evaluating a Job Offer



Looking for a Job

Losing Your Job



Social Media

Connecting with Hiring Managers

The least effective way to find a job is to apply for advertised openings, sending your résumé online through a company employment portal or a third-party website. You are just one of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of applicants, and even a standout résumé will have a hard time cutting through the clutter if the number of applications reaches in the triple digits or higher.

To increase your chances of securing an interview, you need to bypass the company’s Human Resources department and get your résumé in the hands of the hiring manager. The hiring manager is the person in the company with the ultimate authority to offer you the job. In a small company, it might be the owner or the individual who reports to the owner. In a larger company, it might be your future direct supervisor or a specific department manager.

There are two ways to get your résumé directly to the hiring manager — by email or by snail mail (postal mail). It used to be effective to fax your résumé to a hiring manager, but that has largely fallen out of favor. In many cases, you should actually email the hiring manager and send your résumé and a customized cover letter to the hiring manager via mail. Although you may be tempted to skip this step, or only send an email, you’re going to get more attention as a candidate if you put in the extra effort and actually mail a hard copy of your résumé and cover letter. Few applicants will go to the trouble to do so, so it can really help you stand out.

Note: Send your résumé and cover letter on a quality paper stock (not just the typical copier paper that’s probably in your printer). Mail them, unfolded, in a plain white or manila 9×12 envelope. Make sure you affix enough postage. (Yes, it may cost you $2 to send your résumé by mail, but it can really help you make a strong first impression.)

Address the cover letter and the envelope to the specific hiring manager for the position. But how do you find out the name of this person, if you don’t know it?

Here are some ideas:

  • Use Google. Google the company name, department name, and/or job title. For example, if you’re looking for the name of the person who leads the Fraud department at PayPal, a Google search for “Manager Fraud Department PayPal” can yield some trails to follow. Sometimes you can find the hiring manager’s name in another job posting you find in the Google search results.
  • Search LinkedIn. Check to see if the target company has a Company Page. In your LinkedIn account, use the search bar at the top (“Search for people, jobs, companies, and more…”).

Type in the company name:

This yielded several results, including the ability to search for “People who work at PayPal,” “People who used to work for PayPal,” two Company Pages, and two Groups related to PayPal.

We’re going to take a look at the official PayPal Company Page.

On the right side of the page, it identifies there are 11,181 PayPal employees on LinkedIn. Click on the blue “See all” link.

Next, we’re going to try to find a specific department manager — for the Fraud department in Omaha, Nebraska. Click on the “Advanced” link at the top left hand side of the page under the word “Search.”

Use the search criteria to make your selections. In this case, we are looking for the keyword “Fraud,” with the word “Manager” in the job title, at PayPal. In addition, because the job is in Omaha, we have added a local postal code to narrow the results only to likely matches in this geographical area.

While we didn’t find exactly what we were looking for, we did find another possible job title to search. In this case, the top match previously held the position of “Lead Manager, Merchant Fraud” at PayPal.

So if we change our search options (left side, below) to include “Lead Manager, Merchant Fraud” at PayPal, it yields a promising lead. (It’s not an exact match, but he does hiring within the Risk Operations area, as his profile says, “Build, develop, and lead a team of up to 14….”) But we still don’t have a specific name.

Next, we go back to Google, and we’ll enter that exact job title and company to see if we can put a name to the profile.

Sure enough — it comes up with a name. Clicking on the search result shows that it’s the same person.

Even if this specific person isn’t the hiring manager, you’ve identified a specific individual within the company who may be able to help you connect with the hiring manager. You can then see if you have any connections in common with him or her.

  • Use Your Network. This strategy can work on its own, or in conjunction with the other techniques listed. Do you know someone who works at your target company? (Again, LinkedIn can be a good way to find this out!). Or do you know someone who knows someone who works there? (A friend-of-a-friend?)
  • Check Out the Company Website. The company website can also be an excellent research source for finding a specific individual. This is especially true for smaller companies. Look for an “About Us” page, and also check and see if there is a “News” section, or somewhere on the site where news releases are posted. Key executives — often, those with hiring responsibilities for their area of specialty — are often quoted in news releases about important new hires or new products or services.
  • Call the Company. Larger companies will usually have a main operator or switchboard that you can ask for the name and correct spelling of the individual in charge of hiring for [job title]. If you can’t reach a human being during business hours, call back in the early morning or late at night and use the company directory to see if you can be connected to a specific individual’s voice mail.

All of these strategies can help you find a specific name. Once you have the name, you can learn more about the person.

Have a Name and Want to Research the Person?

Look for opportunities to connect with a hiring manager before you send the résumé and cover letter. This will help make your first connection a “warm contact” instead of a “cold contact.”

  • Go Back to Google. You’re looking for information that will help you research the person further — for example, social media profiles, blog posts, articles written, company news, and more.
  • Check Out the Contact’s Social Media Profiles. Review LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. Look for areas of common interest or background, or people you know in common.
  • Search A Specialized Directory. One of these is Data.com Connect — formerly known as Jigsaw. The Free version of the service is extremely limited; however, if you’re only looking for one or two names, that will probably suffice for your needs.
  • Call the Company. For larger employers (more than 100 employees), you will also want to call the company to get a specific Mail Stop number or department code to send the résumé and cover letter via mail. This will help ensure your envelope gets to the right person in the right department quickly.

One final note: If you have the hiring manager’s name but not an email address, see if the company has a standard format for email addresses. For example:

  • FirstName.LastName@companyname.com
  • FirstInitial_LastName@companyname.com
  • LastNameFirstName@companyname.com

Remember, if you want to increase your chances of getting the job you want, you need to stand out. And one of the best ways to do that is to connect with the hiring manager — either after you’ve applied for a position online, or by identifying a company you’d like to work for and sending a targeted résumé and cover letter.

Don’t Make These Mistakes on LinkedIn

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4 Things You Must Do on LinkedIn

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