The arc of a nurse’s career is steeped in learning. While formal education certainly lends itself naturally to the accumulation of skill and knowledge, true expertise comes with time. The nurse’s brain constantly absorbs and processes incredible amounts of data and experience from the first day of nursing school onward; from this significant accumulation arises the nurse’s well-deserved brag list.
The brag list explained
Bragging is often associated with boastfulness – the term braggadocio comes to mind – but swaggering, inflated exaggeration is not the nurse’s cause; rather, the nurse’s brag list is used for an altogether different purpose.
A nurse’s brag list is a record of a nurse’s lifetime of accomplishments, certifications, trainings, and special skills; the brag list is like an outline of what makes a nurse unique, special, and characteristically him- or herself.
The thoughtful nurse doesn’t use the brag list to elevate herself above her peers in a mean or thoughtless way; instead, the nurse uses her brag list when the time is right, especially in service to her career growth and professional advancement.
This brag list is what makes a resume shine; it lends itself to a LinkedIn profile that can’t help but impress potential employers and create an intrinsic understanding that the nurse in question means business in his career.
Activating the brag list
As mentioned above, a resume is the natural place where a nurse’s brag list makes itself known. Additionally, that same list of skills, expertise, and knowledge will inform how the ambitious and forward thinking nurse crafts an effective cover letter.
The purpose of a resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile are essentially the same: to frame the nurse’s education and career experience in such a way as to leave no doubt in the reader’s mind that this individual has something unique to offer beyond the cliché platitudes and generic jargon found in many resumes and career-related documents.
Nurses are often naturally modest, perhaps as a result of many decades of standing in the shadow of physicians. In the 21st century, nurses have come into their own with greater autonomy and increased breadth of practice. As a result, some nurses find themselves reticent to reach deep and sing their own praises at the most crucial times in their careers; the brag list can make it easier to do so.
A nurse can activate his or her brag list by using a resume as a tool to highlight unique experiences, skills, knowledge, or accomplishments. A professional summary at the top of a resume’s first page can elucidate why this particular nurse deserves a seat at the table; when crafted skillfully, that summary makes a compelling case for this nurse being an ideal candidate of great value to any organization lucky to hire her.
When interviewing for a position, the nurse must summon the self-assurance that provides the ability to look a hiring manager in the eye and wax poetic about the nurse’s stellar career and personal qualities. The rubber hits the road in the job interview, and the brag list must be communicated clearly and purposefully without the appearance of boastfulness. To this end, the brag list is simply stated as incontrovertible fact.
It’s okay to brag
The ambitious nurse must learn to be comfortable with bragging. Again, this doesn’t mean denigrating others; rather, it means finding the ability and courage to clearly and truthfully verbalize one’s intrinsic value at key moments.
A self-possessed nurse can step into his power and command professional respect when he can communicate his worth with heartfelt conviction in a clear-eyed and matter-of-fact style.
Finding the subtle difference between a brag list and self-important boasting is a skill well worth honing in the course of a nursing career.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, consultant, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at NurseKeith.com.
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