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Comments & Phrases to Help You Write Employee Self-Evaluations

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A successful employee self-evaluation gives yourself credit without coming off as arrogant and describes your struggles without whining or pointing fingers at others. Once you've decided what you want to cover on your self-assessment, the next step is to determine how best to capture your thoughts. A carefully crafted review requires time, concentration and the ability to step outside your comfort zone. Writing a solid self-assessment makes you an active participant in the evaluation process, according to the HR department at the University of Virginia.

Praise Your Accomplishments

Nowhere is it more appropriate to use the pronouns "I" and "me" than on your self-evaluation. This is your opportunity to celebrate your achievements. If you worked as part of a team for a project, avoid using the word "we." Instead, focus on your accomplishments as part of the team. The words you use after "I" should leave no doubt in your supervisor's mind that you excelled in your work. "I successfully negotiated," "I led my team," "I developed a plan" and "I reduced our overhead" are examples of phrases that set an impressive tone.

Finish your sentence with hard data and provable facts. In other words, rather than saying, "I worked really hard on this project," include specific details of your work. "As long as you can tie [an accomplishment] to tangible data points and facts, you can use it to your advantage," says John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology, in an article published in CIO.

Tailor it to Your Industry

Include specific words and phrases depending on your profession. For example, if you're a lawyer, include your billable hours for the past year, and if they exceeded the minimum requirement, be sure to state that. When writing a self-assessment in the medical or health-care field, cite examples of both your technical and administrative expertise. Mention key phrases like maintaining HIPAA compliance, streamlining patient costs, developing patient-practitioner relationships and performing patient assessments. If you're an educator, outline your core teaching philosophies and back them up with examples used in the classroom. If you state that you "encourage students to take notes to better understand the material," describe a classroom incident in which this philosophy was particularly successful.

Identify Room for Improvement

An honest self-review looks at both the good and the bad. When you've fallen short of your goals, be very clear about what you could have done better and offer concrete examples of how your team or division can improve. Keep your statements positive. By writing the phrase "here is what I want to work on," you're showing your employer that you recognize your weaknesses and are prepared to reverse them. Use a phrase like "this is what I've learned" because it tells your boss that you're able to come back stronger from mistakes. If it's a team failure you want to describe, don't blame specific people. Instead, use an open, positive phrase like "this is what we should do going forward."

Discuss Your Goals

The employee self-evaluation is a good time to share your future goals with your boss. "If you don't ask, it's not going to happen," says Timothy Butler, a senior fellow and the director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School, in a Harvard Business Review article. Be specific. It's perfectly fine to state, "I see myself advancing to a management-level position within the next 12 months," or "I would like the chance to take specific IT classes to prepare myself for other roles in my division." Back up your goals with clear-cut examples of how you will achieve them. For example, when you say "I will build my interpersonal skills and sign up for business management courses," you are effectively telling your boss or supervisor that you're willing to go the extra mile to earn a management position. Let your employer know that you're eager for challenges by using a phrase like "I see change as an opportunity," or "I am able to handle new situations with ease."

Avoid Cliches

While key words can positively influence your self-evaluation, steer clear of catchy phrases that aren't real descriptions, Peter Cappelli, an HR expert and professor of management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, advises in in a Business News Daily article. Cliches may sound nice, but they won't do anything to illustrate your hard work. Don't call yourself "a computer whiz," instead, explain how your IT skills have been an asset to the company. Instead of saying you "bagged a client," describe the process you took to bring in some important business to your division. Eliminate words that bog down or weaken your review, focusing on crisp, descriptive phrases that best support your message.


Diane DiPiero began her writing career in New York City with Ladies' Home Journal, then went on to publications focusing on interior design and architecture. Her work has appeared in The Plain Dealer, Better Homes & Gardens, Cleveland Magazine, Woman's World and Crain's Cleveland Business, among other publications. Her online credits include

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