Bragging is Good for Your Career

Many of us were raised to be humble and not to brag. But the process of career management often requires that you talk about yourself and your accomplishments -- a skill that makes many people uncomfortable because they associate this behavior with bragging. But when you talk about your achievements, you are not bragging. It's only bragging if your discussion contains hyperbole, half truths, or lies.

Recent experiments conducted by Haifa University researcher Nurit Tal-Or examining the impact of bragging about those close to you (i.e. a family member or a colleague) vs. bragging about yourself suggest that people view people who brag about themselves as more competent than those who brag about others. "Bragging" (with specific and quantifiable examples of how you have achieved success) can actually be good for your career brand.

Is the fear of sounding like a bragger holding you back in your career? Here are some ways you can boast effectively without being full of hot air.

Truthful resume writing

Many people tell me that they don't like to write about their accomplishments on their resume because it sounds like they are bragging. So instead, they write resumes that merely outline their job tasks and look just like the resumes of the other 500 applicants vying for the same position. If you don't write about the impact you had on the organizations you supported, someone else will -- and he/she will be the one to get the interview. You may be more qualified than your competitors -- but those who do the best job of explaining how they improved something in their past job have the best chance of landing interviews. Write about situations where you helped the companies you have worked for make money, save money, save time, eliminate a redundancy, grow the business, or keep the business. This isn't bragging. This is simply giving a factual account of your value to the organization and backing those claims up with statistics such as dollars saved, time saved, etc.

But remember, honesty is always important; claiming you achieved more than you actually did will damage your credibility. Writing that you single-handedly transformed a business process or taking full credit for a project that was actually executed by your team may come across as bragging or even lying. But explaining that you led the effort that resulted in these changes or that you co-managed a project allows you to claim responsibility for the project without suggesting that you achieved the whole thing by yourself.

Interviewing authentically

Once you are called in for an interview, the hiring manager expects you to be able to articulate your past successes. Create compelling stories of your value as an employee using the "CAR" formula: discuss the Challenges you faced in your past roles, the Actions you took to address those challenges, and the corresponding Results. These stories don't make hiring managers think you are bragging. They help the hiring manager develop a comfort level with you. Most hiring managers believe that past successes are a good indicator of future success. So sharing stories that demonstrate your value proposition help solidify the relationship with the hiring manager and encourage him/her to move you to the next round of the interview process.

Genuine Networking

Networking meetings should not be all about you. You will quickly be labeled a braggart if you talk about yourself non-stop during the event and move on to the next person once you have exhausted all conversation about yourself. Great networkers focus on being good listeners and figure out ways to help others. In networking situations, if you let the other person do most of the talking, he/she thinks you are a great conversationalist. The key here is to let the other person brag, remember what they do, and share that information with others. Once you offer help to others, they will remember your efforts and want to reciprocate. And before you know it, they will be asking you about yourself and how they can help you by bragging to their contacts on your behalf.

Proactive performance management

Many people think that when their performance review rolls around, their boss should be brimming with good things to say and that it is that supervisor's responsibility to remember and document everything the employee has achieved over the past 12 months. But in the real world, bosses often don't keep track of everything their employees accomplish, and frequently employees take care of problems before the boss even knows they exist.

In order to manage your career effectively, you need to keep a "brag book" throughout the year that can then be shared with your boss at the time of your review. Be sure to describe how your achievements helped the company or department do things smarter, faster, or more efficiently -- and prove the impact of your actions with quantifiable metrics whenever possible. By "proactively bragging" about the value you bring to the organization, you may also be able to improve your merit increase or position yourself as the next in line for a future promotion.

Next: Are You Lying on Your Resume? >>

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Veronica Dixon

This was very helpful information. Typos, do's and don't also creative writing with the ( bragging truth).

May 25 2010 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My boss is non-technical which makes him clueless as to what I do, how I do it, and why it's important. So when he sits down with me at the end of the year and asks why I am still hanging around and what I did to justify my existence, I toss the log in his lap. Keeping score is not bragging. It's everything.

May 24 2010 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Love your post. I agree with you 100% Think be a pimp in my next life.

May 15 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This goes to prove its not what you know its who you blow. And you must have a good line of SHIT. You'll get just about anything. I get a kick out of those little pimple faced, sawed off piss ants working in these chain stores. You go in there looking for a snifter pin and one stops you, you ask it if they carry one of these in orange. The reply usually goes somethin like this. "I HAVE to check MY STOREROOM" so you stand there with your thumb up your ass waiting for an answer. It shows back up, I DON'T CARRY ONE OF THESE IN ORANGE IN MY WAREHOUSE but I CAN CHECK one of MY OTHER STORES and if they have one, if they do I can have it shipped to MY STORE for tomorrow. My answer to that usually goes something like this, "No shit you really own these places". So it says no Mr. Fudpucker owns them, oh I was under the impression that you owned the store, you made it sound like the warehouses were yours. No I don't own them, do you want me to see if I can get that part. With that I say no thanks and leave. I can't deal with someone whom the suits at where ever they work can brainwash and bullshit like that.
Where I work we have one of those. For example the forklift breaks down, she says "you know how much it cost ME to repair that forklift last time". Or, an electrician comes in to relace bulbs, "you know how much that electrician charged ME to replace 16 bulbs". I tell her, "Goddamn you must be very generous or they must pay you pretty good to lay out that much money for the company". I can go on forever here, but you get the idea. One more thing, a company can lie or misrepresent a job discription in a want ad, but we all know the consequences of lying on a job application. But yet the company don't mind when you blow your own horn or as I call it bullshitting. Its not WHAT you know its WHO you BLOW. Maybe it's one of my pet peeves.

May 15 2010 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I remember going on an interview for a husband and wife team and he asked me what some of my accomplishments were. What do these people think they are going to get for this kind of money? If I was as accomplished as they want to hear what the heck would I be doing in their office?

May 15 2010 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's ridicilious. Just shows the current lousy level of corporate culture in America where the brown nosers get ahead and hard working, experienced, yet modest people don't.

May 15 2010 at 6:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Perhaps I'm from an older generation that believed braggadocio came from people who were so insecure, they had to boast of their achievements. I find people that strut about, heralding themselves as great, nothing but a complete turnoff. Most of these vain clowns give themselves far more credit than they are worth.
A man's worth will be judged by his deeds, not in self proclaimations of greatness.

May 15 2010 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The article's definition of bragging is absolutely untrue. Bragging is NOT being deceitful. It is NOT, as the writer says, a discussion of hyperbole, half truths or lies. Bragging is assumed to be an accurate description of one's accompishments, but is usually frowned upon because it's done in a boastful way. Bragging is describing or referring to one's truthful accomplishments in an annoyingly boastful and self-centered way. Bragging is being a show-off. It is NOT assumed to be lying. That is something different (lying).

I've always been of the opinion that women should brag a great deal. Men can get away with bragging much of the time - it's seen as a show of confidence, and showcases what they have done, even if it annoys. Women rarely brag, and when they do it's often received badly, which is why women rarely brag. Women (for the most part) care about the impressions being left on the listener. But if women bragged more often, (and more women bragged), it would become more accepted, and women's accomplishments would be more well known, to everyone's benefit. One of the best sayings I've ever heard was "If you don't toot your own horn, no one else will".

The writer and I agree on this - if you have accomplishments that you are deservedly proud of, brag about them! You will be noticed, and go on to accomplish more.

- A Fan of Bragging

May 15 2010 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Taz's comment

You must be one of those brown nosing, asskissing, bootlicking, suitwearing stuff shirt management types who don't give damn about a human being only about "THE COMPANY". Then when YOUR COMPANY get finished USING you and sends you packing or as they like to refer to it as "downsizing" and give you 15 minutes to clear out YOUR DESK don't cry in you brief case. We told you so, and yes I do belong to a union, The TEAMSTERS. Guess you didn't think one of us could spell this good. We're not all knuckle draggers.

May 15 2010 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Marx doomed his countrymen to poverty and violence, no Marxist
nation state has excelled at anything except killing and political assassins. America by example did very well as long
as taxes and the cost of government was held in check, now that
it is forecast to run 40 % of GDP America is not doing so good.

May 15 2010 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


The United States military uses skinnerian behaviorism in its basic training and other US military "programs." Does that make the US military "Marxist?" I would imagine that 98% of those who criticize Karl Marx have never read a word of his works. He championed the working man. Anything wrong with that?

May 15 2010 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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