Many workplaces have a regular review process that helps employers gauge how you're doing in your job. Some think of self-evaluations as the lazy boss's review method -- the boss doesn't have to do the work, but he gets something to add to your employee file, perhaps to use as a springboard from which he can choose to promote you or perhaps even shuffle you around. Don't look at it that way, however. Instead, look at it as a way to develop in your career and to share your successes with your boss.
You may be required to fill out a pre-printed review form, or you may be asked to do a more free-form review. In either case, pay special attention to grammar and spelling so you hand in a clean document. With printed forms, answer each question clearly and concisely, always painting the most positive picture of your progress possible. The forms will typically ask you to outline your duties, state where your strengths lie and where you need work, and then have you set new goals for the coming period. If your employer wants you to do a more free-form assessment, review samples of pre-made forms to get a sense of what to include.
Review Past Goals
Before completing the assessment, look at any past assessments and goals sheets you've completed with this employer. This can give you a sense of what you've accomplished, as well as give you something to talk about if you're asked to complete a free-form assessment. If you use SMART goal setting to create goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely, by the time your new assessment rolls around, you should be able to state quantitatively whether you've accomplished those goals. If you have hard data about your success, such as improved sales figures, for example, mention them.
Careful Wording is Key
Also look for ways to share your successes in a qualitative manner. In other words, be ready to toot your own horn and discuss the less-tangible progress you've made. For example, describe how you've learned a new skill or improved relations with a client. To work in the "weaknesses" your employer will want to see, sandwich your accomplishments with a mention of something you need to work on. Use "developmental language," suggests Timothy Butler, director of Career Development Programs at the Harvard Business School. For example, state the challenge, then talk about what you're doing about it and how you're moving forward. To sandwich your weaknesses with strengths, restate your biggest accomplishment, or mention something else that went well during the period.
Use It to Get More
Even if your employer doesn't ask you to, you should be using your self-assessment as a tool for asking for something more in your career, suggests Butler. You've already got your bosses thinking about you and your accomplishments, so it's the ideal time to get them thinking about the next steps. At the end of the document, say something like, "given my exemplary record, I believe I'm a candidate for promotion" or something to that effect. Whatever you ask for, always relate it back to how it will help the employer.