Self-evaluation is a necessary component of being successful — both in the corporate, professional sense but also in terms of personal growth. But when the topic of corporate self-appraisals comes up many people shutter internally, thinking, “Ugh I have to talk about myself again? This is going to be terrible.”
All employees have to fill out a performance evaluation at some point to review their areas of strengths and weaknesses and discuss their skills for possible promotions. But a career self-assessment isn't easy to fill out for most employees. A self-evaluation form asks a lot of blunt questions, and performance appraisal about yourself can feel awkward. But just remember that writing self-evaluation forms for your quarterly or annual performance review will help you showcase your skills and possibly move up in the long run.
Why do we shy away from proclaiming our successes, especially if this is a key part of professional advancement? And more importantly, how can someone who is a little timid to talk about herself do so without sounds (or more likely feeling) conceited?
9 Tips for Writing Your Self Evaluation
Here are nine ways to write your best leadership-assessment self-appraisal without sounding (or feeling!) conceited. These self-evaluation examples should help you prepare.
1. Use numbers to your advantage.
When in doubt fall back to numbers. First of all, any good self-appraisal has metrics, but it’s also a great way to let the results speak for themselves.
- Rather than writing “Had great team success in 2017!” try something like “Outperformed 2017 sales goals by over 135 percent.”
2. Speak for your results.
People sometimes say, “The results speak for themselves!” Nope, this isn’t how it works. You must give your results voice.
- Rather than assuming your manager remembers the great marketing campaign idea you had in July, try giving it a voice!
Example: “Conceived and pitched Q3 marketing program to all layers of the senior management team. Resulting program yielded 3x more exposure than the previous Q3 and double the exposure of Q1 and Q2 combined.”
3. Allow yourself plenty of time to write.
A well-written review for yourself or anyone else should take time. This is not something that you should slap together in 20 minutes and call it a day. Dedicate work time to your review.
- Rather than slapping something together in a matter of minutes on a Friday afternoon, try to mark off time on your calendar multiple times over a week or two to work on your written review.
4. Write results in real-time or find a way to bring yourself back.
It’s helpful to take notes for an annual review throughout the year but if you haven’t done this don't panic. One of my personal favorite tricks is to look back through my Outlook calendar and take myself back to what I was thinking at that time, what mattered to me and my partners, what my team’s goals were, etc. Get yourself into the headspace you were in to recall what was going on and what results you were driving.
- Rather than forcing yourself to remember all the details once a year, try taking notes for your self-evaluation as the year goes on!
5. Peer review.
You wouldn’t submit your resume to your dream job without getting someone to proof it, would you? Why would you submit one of the most important components of your success at an organization without a once over by someone else? Something goes off in our brains about self-appraisals needing to be secret, private or writing entirely on our own, but why? Peer review and editing are used by the best writers for a reason — they help!
- Rather than keeping your written self-appraisal and accomplishments under wraps as if they were military secrets, try exchanging with a close colleague or even someone external!
6. Ladder up to broader goals.
If you’re unsure what to include in a review or where to start, look to your manager's, team’s, department’s, or company’s broader goals. Everything you include should ladder up to these.
- Rather than guessing about what matters, try using the goals that have been cascaded down to you. Tip: If you haven’t gotten goals then ask for them next year!
Example: "Increase personal sales by 10% as part of the department's overall sales strategy."
7. Share what you “don't think” matters.
Here’s a tip from an unbiased coach and expert who knows nothing about your work: What you think “doesn’t matter” actually does. Part of my work as a coach includes helping leaders and professionals shift through their experiences to help unlock what matters most and what they really want. During this exercise, a funny thing tends to happen — what they think “doesn’t matter” often does. This happens in performance reviews all the time — the seemingly small task or result that you brush aside likely means way more to your manager or an outsider. Let that person decide.
- Rather than omitting things that you don’t think matter or aren’t meaty enough, try including any quantifiable accomplishment that ladders up to a broader company imperative. Tip: If your company values employee engagement and you spearhead the company picnic each year, then include that!
Example: "I spearheaded the company picnic by coordinating with the caterer, and planning activities. Employees were engaged and reported higher morale after the event."
8. Use a self-appraisal to intentionally grow.
Maybe you’re an executive assistant with dreams of moving into an operations role. Then focus on the operational side of your work to date. Tip: Your self-appraisal should highlight what you want to be doing more of.
- Rather than simply recapping your year, try highlighting what you want to be doing more of.
Example: "My goal is to streamline operations by implementing [example of system]."
9. Get inspiration from job descriptions!
Unsure of what you should be focusing on or highlighting in your review? You can use similar job postings as guides.
- Rather than laundry-listing everything you’ve done without filter or thought, try finding inspiration and guidance from similar roles — or better yet, look to the job posting to which you applied (if you’ve been in the role for a short period of time and still have it).
Example: "Overhauled employee training program to streamline the onboarding process."
Sample Self-Evaluation Template
Your company may provide you with a self-evaluation form to complete, but if they don't—and even if they do—you can use these prompts to guide your reflection. Be as specific as possible, pointing to specific numbers, projects, and tasks completed, as well as goals for the future. For example, if you're a social media manager, you might point to the number of followers you gained on Twitter and the number you hope to gain in the coming year.
Projects for which you served as a lead:
Projects in which you participated/specific roles:
Results of projects (be specific):
Other responsibilities assumed outside of your job description:
Goals for the coming year (be specific):
Goals for the next five years:
Writing your self-evaluation
Writing a self-appraisal doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing or a big production. But it should be taken seriously. After all, this document might be one of the key factors in you getting a promotion, a raise, to be considered for new projects or assignments. On top of the benefits for you at your current place of employment, your review might turn into the fodder for your next resume!
So the next time you’re sitting down to write a self-appraisal, be sure to give yourself ample time, reflect through the great accomplishments you’ve made and how these ladder up to company objectives, and overall don’t be afraid to brag a little! After all, if you don’t do it who will?
Jane Scudder is a certified leadership and personal development coach; she helps individuals and groups get unstuck. She builds and leads original workshops and training programs and consults with organizations of various sizes and is an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago. Find out more at janescudder.com.