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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Self-Assessment: 4 Tips for Writing Your Performance Evaluation

Self-Assessment: 4 Tips for Writing Your Performance Evaluation
Credit: Jirsak/Shutterstock

Self-assessments, also known as self-appraisals or self-evaluations, are popular tools used by management to learn how employees view their own performance. Theses assessments help close the gap between expectations and performance, and provide a channel to open communication about goals, opportunities and development.

While managers and supervisors share their opinions of employee performance and ability to meet expectations during evaluations, the self-assessment lets employees discuss what they see as important projects completed, share new skills and techniques acquired, and remind employers of all the great work they have done since the last performance review. 

Writing a self-evaluation can be difficult for many employees. Despite knowing themselves and their work better than anyone, employees can struggle to summarize it in a way that comes off as objective, rather than conceited.

Here are a few tips to help you with your assessment.

The main goal of the self-evaluation is to highlight your accomplishments. Employees need to point to specific tasks and projects that highlight their best work. When describing those accomplishments, employees should be sure to emphasize the impact each of those achievements had on the business as a whole, in order to show how valuable their work is to the company.

Julie Rieken, CEO of evaluation software company Trakstar, noted that employees should connect their actions with a manager's goals.

"If your manager needs to hit a certain number, share how you played a role in hitting the number," Rieken said in a blog post. "Accomplishments you list should connect with business objectives."

Honesty is another critical aspect of writing a self-review. It's more than likely that the boss knows when a good job was done, so trying to highlight a project or task that was just OK, rather than great, won't have much impact.

Being honest also means pointing out some areas that could be improved. Timothy Butler, a senior fellow and director of career-development programs at Harvard Business School, advised employees to use developmental language when critiquing the areas in which they need to improve.

"You don't want to say, 'Here's where I really fall down,'" Butler told the Harvard Business Review. "Instead, say, 'Here's an area I want to work on. This is what I've learned. This is what we should do going forward.'"

Butler also encouraged employees to use their self-evaluations as a time to ask their bosses for career-development opportunities. This should occur even if the employer isn't asking the employee for it, because if you don't ask, it likely won't happen, he said. By showing an interest, you put it in your manager's mind that you are interested, and he or she is more likely to be on the lookout for tasks, assignments and training prospects for you.

Finally, employees need to remember to always be professional when writing self-assessments. This means they should avoid using it as an opportunity to bash the boss for poor leadership skills or criticize co-workers for making the employees' lives more difficult.

Being professional also means giving the appraisal its due attention, like any other important project that crosses your desk. Dominique Jones, chief people officer at Halogen Software, advised treating your self-appraisal like a work of art that builds over time. You'll be much happier with the end result if you give yourself time to reflect and carefully support your self-assessment, she said.

"Use examples to support your assertions, and … make sure that you spell- and grammar-check your documents," Jones wrote in a blog post. "These are all signs of how seriously you take the process and its importance to you."

More information about writing self-assessments is available from the following resources:

Additional reporting by Katherine Arline and Chad Brooks.

Marci Martin

With an Associate's Degree in Business Management and nearly twenty years in senior management positions, Marci brings a real life perspective to her articles about business and leadership. She began freelancing in 2012 and became a contributing writer for Business News Daily in 2015.