Do you hate to brag?
No matter your personality type, chances are you were brought up to be humble and to wait to be recognized. But here’s the problem. That doesn’t help you to get ahead in your career. Decision-makers and people of influence need to know about your work ethic and understand your accomplishments. They should be familiar with your skill and ability and trust your talent as a result.
Although I firmly believe that it’s important to consistently talk about your accomplishments and career development throughout the year, the one chance you get to highlight your successes is your year-end review. A self-assessment survey allows you to objectively review your strengths and weaknesses using an objective system your employer can't ignore.
Completing a self-assessment is a critical part of your work review process. But where do you start when you have repeatedly dismissed and/or undervalued your achievements?
As you look at taking the next steps on your ideal career path, a self-assessment test will help you take an honest look at your skills and successes. Here’s my best advice on how to get started.
1. Keep track of your accomplishments throughout the year.
I recommend keeping a success journal as a self-assessment tool. Each day, jot down what you accomplished. It is especially helpful to share your ongoing results with your boss on a regular basis. Keeping your boss informed of your progress and success on projects helps you to establish your credibility. They should always have an understanding of what you're working on, what your core competency is and, in general, what your performance is like.
With a self-assessment tool, the results on any formal self-assessment should not be a surprise at the end of the year for either your boss or you. When you have a lot on your plate (and most of us do!), it’s easy to forget or discount your contributions. But at the end of the year, this record of your accomplishments will help you as you write your self-assessment.
2. Focus on your unique contribution.
As you highlight your accomplishments in the self-assessment, give some thought to how your work added value to the department or company. What was the benefit of the project? Did it help the organization reach its goals or support ongoing progress of an important initiative? Review what you’ve accomplished. Look for major successes, but also look for patterns of how you are consistently contributing to the organization.
In your self-assessment, address the specific results as well as the benefit of them. Tie those results into company objectives or core values. For example, if increasing customer loyalty is an objective, you state that "Project A" was completed on time despite many obstacles. The result was a 34 percent increase in customer loyalty over the past nine months.
3. Make strong and clear statements.
Make sure that your choice of words doesn’t detract from your success. Be aware of your content. As you write the self-assessment, pay attention to how you state the facts and use strong verbs and adjectives. You want it to be clear, direct and powerful.
4. Give credit to your team, but not all the credit.
When we are hesitant to come across as boastful, it’s very common to deflect the credit to others. You can acknowledge your team members, but don’t forget your participation and leadership. Be prepared to talk about your unique contribution to the team and the overall results. Remember that this self-assessment isn't just for you, it's also to assess your professional development and get you to the next step in your career.
Your year-end review is sometimes the only chance you will have to specifically address your accomplishments over the year. It’s definitely not the time to be shy. Make sure to highlight how your work led to specific positive business outcomes. Take advantage of the fact that it’s often easier to write about your successes than verbalize them. This is your opportunity to position yourself as a valued contributor.
Writing a self-assessment can be difficult at first, but it becomes easier with time. The first attempt doesn't have to be a formative assessment, simply sit down with a general self-assessment questionnaire (you can find several online) and write about yourself to get started.
Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed, is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker focused on women's advancement in the workplace. A former corporate executive and CEO, Bonnie is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and co-author of Lost Leaders in the Pipeline: Capitalizing on Women's Ambition to Offset the Future Leadership Shortage.