How to complete a self-evaluation for a performance review

Know how to use your self-evaluation to highlight your successes and lessons learned to help you move ahead.

How to complete a self-evaluation for a performance review

A well-written self-evaluation can help set you up for a promotion.

Ah, the widely dreaded self-evaluation portion of performance reviews. For many of us, reflecting on our own achievements can be a tricky exercise, particularly if you’re uncomfortable tooting your own horn.

However, writing a thoughtful self-evaluation is one of the key pieces to acing your performance review—and positioning yourself for a big raise or promotion. Keep the following tips in mind when the time comes to pat yourself on the back.

Don’t be afraid to self-promote

This is a unique opportunity to showcase your achievements—not hide or downplay them. “A lot of people confuse arrogance with confidence, and then they mitigate what they’ve done,” laments JoAnn Corley, founder and CEO of The Human Sphere, a talent-management consultancy based in Atlanta.

Also, many employees just assume their boss knows what they’ve achieved over the last year, yet that’s rarely true. “Managers are busy, especially those with a lot of direct reports, so you have to be able to advocate for yourself,” says Mikaela Kiner, CEO at Uniquely HR, a Seattle-based career coaching and HR consulting firm.

Your self-evaluation is your time to step into the spotlight and bring your boss up to speed on your accomplishments.

Showcase new skills you’ve gained

One way to prove your worth, says Kiner, is to highlight skills you’ve learned since your last review. But you have to convey to your manager how these new skills have made you a more valuable employee. For example, “if your employer sponsored you to take a certification program, talk about what you learned and how it’s going to benefit your company,” Kiner says.

Soft skills are also relevant—if you can back them up with evidence, says Corley. “Even volunteer work you did can teach you things that make you better at your job,” she says. For instance, mentioning that you led a group build a house at Habitat for Humanity can show your boss you’re flexing your project management skills.

Focus on dollars, percentages, and other hard numbers

You’ll want to cite hard numbers that quantify your accomplishments, advises Rob Sullivan, author of Selling Yourself Without Bragging: A Simple, 4-Part Formula For Quantifying Your Accomplishments—Even When You Think You Can't.

Corley says dollars and percentages are especially powerful—e.g., pointing out that you exceeded your sales goals by 50% or cut operating costs by 15% is more compelling than simply saying that you “hit your numbers for the year” or “improved the company’s bottom line.”

Own your shortcomings

Many employees try to gloss over their weaknesses in their self-evaluation—but managers are looking for honest and open self-reflection. “Your self-evaluation shouldn’t just be a glorification of what you do,” Kiner says.

The best approach is to frame your shortcomings as “areas for growth,” and explain what steps you’re taking to improve your performance in those areas, Corley advises. For example: “I pride myself on being a 'big-picture' guy. I have to admit I sometimes miss small details on group projects, but I always make sure I have someone who is detail-oriented on my team."

Let others sing your praises

Although this is a self-assessment, you can still share positive feedback that you’ve received throughout the year from a co-worker, higher up, customer, or client. Kiner suggests searching through emails from clients to find compliments on your work.

Don’t write a novel

You may feel like you have a lot of things you want to say in your self-assessment, but brevity is crucial. “Do not allow yourself to get off point,” says Bettina Deynes, chief human resources officer at the Society for Human Resource Management.

If you turn in a long self-evaluation, “your manager may not even read it,” warns Kiner. To conserve space, consider making a concise bulleted list of your achievements and skills. (You can expand on your self-evaluation during the review.)

Track your progress for your next review

To make your next self-evaluation easier, Deynes recommends keeping a record of your successes throughout the year. This will give you content to draw from when your next performance review rolls around.

Corley recommends logging your achievements each week. “Put a reminder in your calendar every Friday to reflect on what happened,” and be clear of what you’re tracking, she says. “Tasks, events, interactions with co-workers, and feedback from your manager and customers are going to be your best selling points.”

Boost your value

Writing a self-evaluation for a performance review is a bit like looking in the mirror and reporting on what you see. It's weird, but it helps you to see what's working and what isn't. Could you use some more help building on your strengths? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can sign up to get career advice, job search tips, and workplace trends sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy way to stay on top of important topics and keep your career moving forward.