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If you’re job hunting, you’ve likely spent hours polishing your resume and rehearsing succinct and carefully crafted replies to commonly asked interview questions. You might, however, have overlooked another tool that could sway an employer’s decision in your favor. Offering performance appraisals from previous jobs gives employers an honest look at your past job performance, which could give you the upper hand if your last boss thought highly of you.
Determining When to Share
Consider the pros and cons before sharing a past performance review with a prospective employer. Some employers might not allow you to take a copy out of the office or share their comments with others. In addition, even with a largely positive review, a seemingly minor negative detail could influence the employer’s opinion in a way you did not intend. However, if your past employer had only nice things to say about you, your review could give you an advantage over other candidates.
Positive reviews often carry more weight than references or letters of recommendation, because they’re written as private company documents. Employers are more likely to share their honest opinions, something other employers know. You can also use these reviews to demonstrate a history of improvement. If a past employer pointed out an area that needed strengthening, bring a later appraisal that proves you listened to your supervisor’s advice and made changes. Or, discuss what you learned from the experience and how you’ve worked to become a more effective employee.
Sometimes employers request that candidates bring copies of past performance appraisals to the interview. If your company doesn’t conduct these reviews, ask your boss to write a formal evaluation for your records. If your employer knows you’re looking for another job, you can tell him you need the review to increase your chances of getting hired. You can also write your own assessment and ask your supervisor to review and make edits, or ask the prospective employer if you can submit recommendation letters instead.
How to Share
You can discuss your past appraisals during the interview, by using your past employer’s comments when replying to the interviewer’s questions about your performance at your last job. For example, if the interviewer asks about your greatest strength, point out that during your last review your boss praised your ability to motivate and inspire your colleagues. You can also leave copies with the interviewer and the human resources department. Bring a copy of your last two reviews, enclosing them in a file folder you can hand to the interviewer at the end of the meeting.