Sometimes, a company will ask its employees to write their own performance reviews. Employers use these self-reviews to obtain the employee’s perspective on his or her performance. You shouldn’t be afraid of this exercise; it’s a chance to highlight what you’ve done well. It’s very important that you showcase your work, achievements and performance in the best possible manner.
Part One of Three:
Preparing For the Review Edit
Figure out the format your company wants. Performance reviews can vary depending on the business. Some companies may send out an electronic performance review. Others will have policies that outline very specific categories that they want you to discuss.
- Use the format desired by the company, if there is one. Be careful to follow any templates the company provides carefully so you don’t miss anything or look sloppy. Sometimes the company will just ask you to fill out a form. In other cases, you will need to turn in a fully written review. 
- It’s even better if you figure out what your company wants well before the performance review is due. That way, you can keep track of accomplishments that fit the required categories throughout the year. You can also make sure you fine-tune your performance to meet performance review categories. 
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Don’t rush the review. This needs to highlight your best work, so make sure the review is typo and grammar-error free. It’s a good idea to have more than one draft, and to work ahead on it.
- Remember that this review will end up part of your permanent employment record, so take it very seriously. If anything ever happens to your employment, and you want to contest it, the performance reviews in the file could be critical.
- It’s critical that you use professional language in the review. Be concise also. To be concise, single out a handful of things you did best during the year to discuss more thoroughly. You can keep the performance review on a couple of pages. You do not need to inundate your bosses with too many details about every single thing. Focus on the highlights, while backing them up with some specific evidence. But learn how to self-edit. No one wants to read a 30-page performance review. 
Stay organized throughout the year and before writing. Before you write the review, you should gather key documents that will make the writing easier. It’s a great idea to collect these throughout the course of the year. 
- You may want to include examples of your work, if the company’s format allows this with the performance review. Choose the samples carefully; they need to highlight your absolute best work. Gather any objectives that were set in the previous review.
- Gather any performance notes you took or progress reviews your boss gave you mid-year (if you have such things). Any personal work notes you took during the year might help you with the writing process also. Such year-round journals will help you make your review more specific and meaningful.
Determine your company’s expectations. It’s a great idea to get these in writing.
What exactly does your company expect of you? If you aren’t clear what these are, ask. It’s very important to link your performance evaluation to the company’s goals for you.
- You could deconstruct your job description. Keep in mind that it might be out-of-date and doesn’t include some unstated expectations, though. But it can help you organize your thoughts.
- Break down each job responsibility listed and decide how you’ve met it in a practical sense. You have a right to receive clear expectations from your company. If you don’t have any, it can be too easy for subjective, unfair criticisms to creep into a review. 
Part Three of Three:
Using the Right Tone in the Review Edit
Keep the review focused on yourself. This sounds obvious; after all, you’re being asked to appraise yourself. However, sometimes people make the mistake of going negative and bringing up others.
- Don’t use defensive language in the review. Stay as positive as you can. For example, you could write “I respect others’ time and schedule my meetings in accordance with the schedules of my teammates, colleagues, and clients when possible.” The time of the example is positive and presents you in a good light.
- And keep other people out of it. Now is not the time to criticize other people’s work or personalities.
- It’s also not a good idea to compare yourself to other people in the review when highlighting an achievement. You can highlight what you’ve done without denigrating colleagues who didn’t achieve the same thing.
Provide some constructive criticism of your weaknesses . If a performance review is filled with only over-the-top superlatives, it’s not going to sound very realistic. However, acknowledging mistakes should be done very cautiously.
- You want to write the criticism sections so that they give the sense you are actively working on the issue. For example, you might write, “Because I am intensely focused on the my assigned tasks, and a perfectionist when performing them at times, I can sometimes be perceived as blunt toward some of my colleagues. I am working on the way I communicate in such circumstances.” This statement gives a positive sense of the writer (being a perfectionist with intense focus can also be a good thing on the job) in addition to acknowledging a weakness.
- Identify some areas where you need to improve. However, don’t fill the entire review with them. Make the review mostly about your accomplishments, while providing a couple acknowledgements of places you are working to improve or develop. However, do not be overly critical of yourself for too long or you will sound like you lack confidence. 
- One good way to do this is to focus on the positive by introducing a suggestion for the improvement. Always stay positive and action-oriented. Use developmental language. Instead of saying you failed at something, say that this is an area you want to work on, and explain how you plan to do so. 
Lobby for career development opportunities. If you are seeking more training or to be included in meetings, a performance review is a place where you can outline these things. However, don’t use a performance review to negotiate compensation.
- You could also present any thoughts you have for innovative projects that will help the company. 
- Find out how your boss will use the performance review. Determine whether it will be shared with others, whether it will be used to give out bonuses, and so forth.
Use complete sentences. Sometimes people dump their notes into a performance review, and it can sound very sloppy. You don’t want your review to sound like your abridged notes.
- For example, don’t use a phrase like “content revisions” that is too short. It’s better to use a complete sentence in which you elaborate on the point. You could use bullets to organize information.
- Keep in mind that your direct supervisor might not be the only person who will read the performance review. It might go up the chain to even higher level managers, so it needs to explain information in a clear and detailed manner, rather than assuming that everyone knows what you did or mean. 
Stay positive and honest at all times. Even when you’re mentioning an area needing improvement, you can spin it into the future. Focus on the future, not any failures of the past.
- You don’t want to sound negative, carping, angry, or arrogant. You want to stay positive, sound like a team player, and highlight your accomplishments with dignified tone.
- If there’s something you don’t like about the company, this is not really the place to unload. This is your chance to highlight why you are needed by the company.
Show, don’t tell. It’s very important that you provide specifics when you write a performance review. Don’t just provide general statements.
- For example, rather than saying, “I can always be depended upon to perform my job. My punctuality daily and at meetings and attendance is good,” you could provide exact attendance figures and give specific examples that demonstrate your dependability.
- Backing up general statements with evidence (including numbers) will make your review more meaningful and credible.
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