Ask The Kuder Coach

I’m a high school junior, and I’ve heard I should prepare a brag sheet before I start asking for letters of recommendation from my teachers and mentors for my college applications, and that I should prepare a resume before I fill out summer job applications. I don’t even know the difference between a brag sheet and a resume. Help!


It’s an excellent idea to prepare a brag sheet before you request the letters of recommendation that are required in college applications.  Since you'll be asking a teacher, coach, school counselor, and/or mentor, and these adults have demands on their time, a brag sheet will give them a quick snapshot of the things they will need to know in order to sing your praises.

It’s also an excellent idea to have a resume on hand before you go about applying for summer employment. A resume will not only help you stand out from the crowd, but it will make the process of filling out job applications a breeze because you’ll have all the information and details you need right in front of you.

A brag sheet and a resume are two documents which, although similar in some of the content, are used for different purposes. So let’s start by looking at the differences between a brag sheet and a resume.


Brag Sheet

A brag sheet is a handy document to give to a teacher, coach, school counselor, or mentor you’re asking to write you a college or scholarship recommendation letter, to provide to an admissions officer when touring a college campus, or to include with your college application.

The brag sheet is a place where you record all your achievements (academic and otherwise), awards/honors, extracurricular activities, clubs/organizations, relevant projects, volunteer work, jobs, along with personal attributes that make you special. It includes information that can help communicate who you are, areas where you’ve had success, and what you’re passionate about in life.

How to make your brag sheet stand out.

Paint a vivid picture of your involvement in each role or activity that you list. As you include items on your brag sheet, be sure to write two to three sentences to tell how you contributed, why it was important, and what it meant to you personally. Let your personality shine through. For example, if you’re passionate about organization, explain how you enjoyed taking notes during meetings, creating a filing system for the club, or keeping track of membership dues. If you’re interested in creative roles, explain how you enjoyed designing marketing materials for your club, working with a team to create a parade float, or generating flyers.

Click here to learn more about brag sheets and download a free brag sheet template.


Resume

A resume is a one to two page document used to apply for a job opening. (One page is typical for most students and recent graduates.) This useful tool contains information about your skills, work history, education, professional accomplishments, and personal qualifications. There are three formats for resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination of the two.

  • The chronological resume lists an individual’s work history in reverse chronological order; in other words, the most recent job held is listed first. This is a great format to use if you have a consistent work history related to your career goals, and it allows you to show increasing responsibilities that were added with each role. Be sure to include your job title, the company name and address, dates of employment, and a brief description of the responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • The functional resume is arranged according to the job functions or skills in past work/volunteer experiences. For example, you may organize by leadership skills, management experience, design experience, or teaching skills.
  • The combination resume highlights strengths and accomplishments, along with relevant skills and qualifications, followed by a work history list. For example, this format lets you show off soft skills (sometimes referred to as people skills) that you’ve developed throughout your work history – such as adaptability, collaboration, and problem-solving – instead of focusing the reader’s attention on the specific cashier or barista positions you’ve held.

How to make your resume stand out.

A well-written, quality resume will quickly open doors for you to interview with the company of your choice. A resume must stand out and attract the attention of the employer or human resource director. To draw attention to your resume, make sure that you’re sharing your skills and experiences from your past that make you the best candidate for this position.

Go beyond simply stating your job titles and dates of employment. Explain how you improved a work situation, saved the organization money, or increased efficiencies or profitability. Provide details and actual numbers, when appropriate, and explain how this relates to the position for which you’re applying.

Your resume may also stand out by with good formatting. Be sure to provide your name, home address, email address, and phone number in a prominent manner, which is clear and easy to find. Anyone looking at your resume should be able to quickly locate your contact information and easily read it. In other works, don’t get too carried away with elaborate fonts. If you’re handing out your resume at a career fair or directly to a human resource representative, use high-quality paper.

Before you begin working on a brag sheet and resume, spend some time thinking about the career you plan to achieve and the education you require to reach your career destination. You may find it helpful to write down these objectives to clarify your goals in your mind and as a way to store this information so that you can refer to this vision in the future. Next, begin organizing your educational achievements, work experiences, and other accomplishments in relation to your career objective.


Additional Tips

Carefully consider how your accomplishments relate to your career objective, and focus on transferable skills that represent how you will be a strong asset to a college and future employer.

Make sure to check your brag sheet and resume for accurate spelling and proper grammar. It’s often helpful to ask a parent, teacher, friend, or sibling to read it over for you because we all tend to become blind to our own words after frequent reviewing.

Store your brag sheet and resume in a place where you can easily retrieve them, such as your Google Drive, electronic portfolio, personal website, or multimedia presentation. Be sure to choose a tool that helps you organize your personal records of your learning, growth, and achievements in one location so these things can be easily shared with employers or colleges in the future. 

Check back soon for a brag sheet template and tips on requesting letters of recommendation!

  1. college and career readiness

About The Author

Beth Wingert

Beth Wingert serves as a career coach and professional development instructor for Kuder. She is a Global Career Development Facilitator–Instructor and a Certified Career Advisor™.