Why I Keep a Brag Document — and How It Can Help You

May 10, 2024 Charlie Kroon

Because the fact is, it’s easy to have your work go unnoticed. Sure, as Engineers, we see our faces move around on the sprint board, but on a daily basis, we do so much more than that (we help others, lead small but important projects, give useful feedback to proposals, help customers get unstuck) and if we don’t share what we do, it’s easy that our work becomes unnoticed, or even forgotten.

The Brag Document

Last year I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t move forward. I did my daily tasks, but I had a hard time seeing the bigger picture of my work, and the impact that I made. When my manager would ask me what I was working on, I sometimes didn’t know how to answer.

I then read a blog post by Julia Evans about Brag Documents. Soon after reading, I created a Brag Document. A Brag Document is a list of your accomplishments, achievements, and your future goals. It’s used to track your work, the impact you’ve made, the things you’re proud of, the goals you have, and what you’re doing to achieve them.

Help Your Manager Help You

Your manager’s job is to help you and the rest of your team to get better results. So, it’s logical that they are invested in your career. When you do better, they do better. But, even if you have the best manager in the world, they won’t remember everything you did. And that’s okay, because it’s not their responsibility. It’s yours.

You own your career, which means, it’s your responsibility to keep track of it. A Brag Document is a good tool for this. It can also be of help during 1:1’s with your manager and for the annual 360 reviews.

Eventually, when seeking promotion, your manager needs to bring you forward to other people and make a case for why you should be promoted. "They are doing a great job" might not be good enough of a reason for a promotion. The Brag Document could help your manager make a stronger case.

Bragging to Reduce Imposter Syndrome

But, ‘getting promoted’ isn’t the goal of the brag document. The idea is to help you reflect on your work, to recognize patterns, to see what’s important to you, what you’re learning, and what your impact is. It can even help with imposter syndrome. When you hear the voice in the back of your mind saying: "You’re not good at any of this stuff. One day, they will finally see you for the imposter that you are," you can open your Brag Document and think: "That’s actually not true. Look, I did add value."

How to Create a Brag Document

The general idea of a Brag Document is that it contains the work you’re proud of. You don’t have to try to make your work sound better than it is. Just make it sound exactly as good as it is. For example: "I was the primary contributor of feature X, generating $500K annually."

To help you get started, I created a Brag Document template. Feel free to use it and make a copy for yourself!

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