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The term brag book is a loose phrase that has evolved over the years. It describes the handouts given to a potential employer, usually done during the first interview. A brag book can be just a few letters stapled together or a formal presentation booklet. Typically, it’s a collection of letters of recommendation ("attaboys"), successful projects, yearly reviews, contests won, awards earned, letters of recommendation, product displays, advertising copy, spreadsheets and the like.

These documents serve to validate your successes. Advertising and entertainment professionals often find that it is expected to present a portfolio of achievements during interviews. It’s a different reality for a finance or operations manager to think about constructing a book of accomplishments.

Resist the temptation to open your brag book during an interview. When you start previewing your book, the dialogue stops. If the employer starts reading, you’re losing the interview. The best brag books are constructed with copies (not originals) to be left behind for the employer to keep. Your closing statement should be, "Ms. Employer, I would like to leave you information about some of my accomplishments for you to review later."

RECAP: Brag books, like a resume, should be focused and current. Put the most recent information at the front of the book. Limit the amount of pages. Don’t include personal letters. Do not include any information prior to college with a few exceptions such as being an Eagle Scout, the valedictorian, an Olympic contestant, etc. And remember, don’t open the book during the interview. Rather, leave a copy for later review.

Dear Headhunter,

I have a disc disorder and the doctors have me on disability until 2008. I had to retrain myself to walk again. I have been steadily employed for the last 20 consecutive years and it is hard to accept the fact that I have limitations. I went to an interview with a major company and did well on the written portion. However, when it came to the oral, I blew it. I am an up-front guy and I felt compelled to tell the truth. I informed them I was out of work for awhile because I was on disability. I think that is the reason I didn’t get the job. I will defy doctors’ expectations and hope to be working in a position my body can handle and continue in life with a meaningful job. I feel it is a great idea our local paper has a professional person to render answers to their customers. Keep up the good work and I hope you inspire many people.

Regards, H.G.

Dear H.G.,

I hope this answer will help others in your same situation. There are two opposing views on whether a candidate should reveal long-term health problems or a disability during an interview. One view is to reveal your health status up front, so the employer understands your limitations prior to joining their company. The other view is not to reveal any health information because the company is restricted by Federal Disability Laws regarding questions about illness or physical handicaps.

My advice falls in between these views, so the decision is yours to make. I have learned over the years that being open and honest is the best way to go. The more important factor is timing. You should be the one to select the right time to reveal any health problems. The time for disclosure is after you have received a job offer. Be honest if you’re fearful that you really can’t perform the job duties. In the real world, employers want to take the safest route when hiring and will select the healthy candidate. If you feel you can only perform 80 percent of the job specs, then being open may be your best bet. This disclosure may limit your chance at a job offer because the Supreme Court ruled that a company can deny employment if the job duties could worsen the employee’s medical condition. So, if you do disclose, the company may find a legitimate reason for not hiring you if they conclude the job would worsen your condition.

The real-world answer is in a gray area, and it is an individual decision. Maybe you should think of it as the military axiom of "on a need to know basis." Can you do the job required? Can you perform effectively with pain? If you can deliver what’s expected, does the employer need to know? Openness will get you respect. Stating your ability to perform the job and your desire to work for their company can override concerns about hiring you.


This year starts with an important fact of life for working professionals: your cell phone and e-mail address will be your most valuable long-term contact information.
Now, this contact information can follow you from one service provider to another. You cell phone number is yours to keep, no matter your location or carrier!

If you are switching carriers, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Call your current carrier to get the exact date that your contract expires. Canceling early and switching (porting) to a new carrier early may cause you to lose your number and force you to pay a cancellation fee of up to $200.
  2. Don’t cancel your current service. When you go to join a new carrier, your number will automatically be ported to your new carrier.
  3. Go to www.easyporting.com for more details if you’re not sure of any consequences when you switch.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.