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How to Write an Effective and Powerful Self-Evaluation for a Performance Review

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By writing a superb – but well-written and honest – self-evaluation when it's time for your company's performance appraisals, you will relieve your supervisor of a burden many of them dread. Supervisors don't often enjoy the difficult conversations that are required with annual performance appraisals. But if you write an effective self-evaluation that makes a powerful case for your job performance, your boss may reward you for your job performance as well as your work at easing into a productive dialogue at appraisal time.

Know Your Job

If you're like many employees, your job description probably doesn't capture all of your tasks and responsibilities. Maintain a log of your job duties – including their frequency and how you accomplish them – for a couple of months. Use your log to enumerate the differences between your written job description and your actual duties. This way, your self-evaluation addresses your overall job performance and not just the tasks listed on the written job description. An evaluation that contains an assessment of your strengths in areas that aren't listed on your job description can help you articulate your value to the organization.

Toot Your Horn, But Don't Be a Braggart

In their attempt to be modest, many employees may be reluctant to express just how good they really are. Humility and modesty won't enable you to showcase your talents, which is what you must do to write an effective and powerful self-evaluation at performance appraisal time. On the other hand, no one excels at everything, so take stock of areas where your performance is exceptionally good and focus on them. Describe your accomplishments without depicting yourself as superhuman. And provide evidence of those accomplishments, such as commendations or feedback from supervisors and customers. This is how you toot your horn in a manner that's believable.

Don't Ignore Your Weaknesses

Job seekers typically are advised to stay away from using the word "weakness" when they're trying to sell their qualifications to a prospective employer. And you should avoid it, too, because you're in a position to market your past performance and your aptitude so you can get those plum assignments or that salary hike you're looking for. Instead of identifying weaknesses in your self-evaluation, acknowledge your "areas for improvement." But don't stop there. Describe your plan for improvement, such as completing a computer class to boost your technology skills. Use the self-evaluation to demonstrate initiative and your follow-through will demonstrate commitment.

Show Progress and Professional Development

Review your self-evaluations and your supervisor's performance appraisals from previous years. Measure the distance between how you rated yourself and how your supervisor rated you. Describe the goals you and your supervisor set for the current evaluation period; list which ones you achieved and how far along you are on others. An effective self-evaluation acknowledges the milestones you set by highlighting your professional development and progress. If you acquired new skills or expertise in the process of achieving those annual goals, explain how they benefit the organization.

Carve Out Your Future

Once you've written about the goals you achieved during the recent evaluation period, think ahead about what you intend to accomplish during the next year. Subtly identify your future career goals. For example, instead of, "I want to be promoted to manager within the next 12 months," you could write, "My professional goals for the next 12 months include developing my leadership capabilities and supervisory skills so that I can position myself for a future management role with the company."


Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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