Why every developer needs to create a brag doc (and how to make one yourself) | HackMD Blog
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June 24, 2024

Why every developer needs to create a brag doc (and how to make one yourself)

Rachel Golden
Rachel Golden
Telling HackMD's story, building awareness, and meaningfully connecting with communities.

As a software developer, you know your work is often tucked away in lines of code and behind-the-scenes solutions. It’s easy for your contributions to be overlooked, not only by others but sometimes even by yourself.

But this work is critical to shipping products, achieving business goals, and advancing your career.

That’s where a brag document comes in.

A brag doc is a personal record of your professional accomplishments, projects, and milestones. It’s a powerful tool that can help you keep track of your achievements, advocate for yourself during performance reviews, and enhance your career growth.

Because we know it’s easy to forget the impactful work you’ve completed.

So today we’re diving into why exactly this doc is crucial for your career and giving you a guide on how to create a brag doc yourself.

Why you need a brag doc

Self-Advocacy

In many organizations, your performance and contributions might not always be visible to your managers or peers. There are a lot of asks that might be part of a bigger project, but make a world of difference to the product’s usability and up-time.

A brag doc allows you to present a clear and compelling case for your achievements, making it easier to advocate for promotions, raises, and new opportunities. It clearly articulates all the work you’ve accomplished and visually illustrates just how much and how impactful that work has been.

Performance Reviews

Performance reviews can be stressful, but having a well-documented record of your accomplishments can make them much smoother.

Your brag doc serves as a reference point to remind your manager of your contributions and impact on the team. You two now have a doc with concrete examples to guide your discussion. Never sweat this meeting again. You’ve got the receipts.

Career Growth

If you didn’t already gather from the above, a brag doc is a crucial companion for your career growth.

Documenting your successes helps you reflect on where you’ve been, where you want to go, the trajectory to get there, and identifies key areas for growth. It also makes it easier to update your resume or LinkedIn profile when you’re ready for a new challenge.

Motivation

Seeing your accomplishments laid out in front of you can be incredibly motivating. It’s a tangible reminder of your progress and a confidence booster during challenging times. Trust yourself; you’ve done the work.

Now that we’ve cleared the air on why you should invest the time to create a brag doc, we’re ready to get to work.

How to create a Brag Doc

1. Choose a format This is where you can get a little creative and figure out what works best for you. Your brag doc can be a simple text document, a spreadsheet, or even a digital notebook. The key is to choose a format that you’re comfortable with and will consistently update.

2. Start with basic information Begin by listing the basics: your name, role, and the date you started the document. This makes it easy to track your progress over time.

3. Document your achievements This is the meat of your doc. Include a detailed list of your accomplishments. Here are some categories to consider:

  • Projects: Describe the projects you’ve worked on, your role, the technologies used, and the outcomes.
  • Metrics: Quantify your achievements where possible. For example, “Improved application load time by 30%,” or “Implemented a feature that increased user engagement by 20%.”
  • Learning and Development: Note any courses, certifications, or workshops you’ve completed.
  • Feedback: Include positive feedback from colleagues, clients, or managers. This is the place for intangible metrics. How has your work made a difference for the company and beyond?
  • Innovations: Highlight any new processes, tools, or technologies you’ve introduced that improved workflow or productivity.

4. Update regularly We cannot stress this enough. It’s so important and will make a world of difference in actually being effective. Set a reminder to update your brag doc regularly, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or after completing significant tasks. Consistent updates ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

5. Be specific and honest Provide specific details about your contributions and be honest about your role in team projects. Authenticity adds credibility to your brag doc.

And don’t be afraid to add areas you need to improve and the ways you’ve started to do just that. In fact, this could be its own section. Reflecting on areas of improvement shows self-awareness and accountability.

6. Highlight soft skills Don’t forget to mention your soft skills. Leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and communication are crucial aspects of your professional profile. Much of the time, people hire people based on soft skills. You could have all the talent in the world, but if you’re up against a candidate who has the same technical skills and also has key soft skills, they’re probably getting that offer.

7. Review and reflect Periodically review your brag doc to reflect on your career progress. This can help you reflect on themes in your work, solidify what’s important to you, identify what you’re learning, and highlight what you’d like to be doing differently. Ask questions like…

  • What work do I feel most proud of?
  • Am I working a lot in one particular specialization? Is it because I enjoy that or is it because I’m particularly talented or a little bit of both?
  • What do I wish I was doing more / less of?
  • What were projects that could have gone better? Where can I improve?

From there, you can set new goals and stay aligned with your career aspirations.

The investment your career (and team) needs

As you might have noticed, creating a brag doc is fairly straightforward. But it will make a world of difference to your career. The biggest hurdle is investing the time to create it and then (we can’t stop stressing this) keeping it updated.

Start your brag doc today and take control of your professional narrative. With a well-documented record of your accomplishments, you’ll be well-prepared to showcase your value, advocate for yourself, and continue climbing the ladder of success.