Writing a Self-Assessment for Your Annual Review

The launch of the annual performance review season means that non-represented employees across the Sacramento and Davis campuses are gathering information to write their self-assessments.

Lots of people feel overwhelmed by the exercise – trying to summarize a year's worth of work and accomplishments into a few paragraphs. If you haven’t kept a record of your accomplishments, you might be wondering where to start.

This is an opportunity to reflect on your performance and help your supervisor understand what you’ve achieved and how you have directly contributed to your department’s goals.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • View this as an opportunity to highlight your contributions to the department.
  • The number one priority is to get into the right mindset. Writing your self-assessment is a chance to remind or inform supervisors of what you’ve accomplished, how you’ve grown as a professional and overcome challenges to contribute directly to your position and the success of the department. After all, you’re more familiar with the nuances of your job than your supervisor is – especially if they manage a large group of people.
  • Soft skills are equally as valuable as concrete contributions.
  • When writing a self-assessment, focus on concrete accomplishments in addition to soft skills, such as how you get along with others, how well you communicate or how much initiative you take. Those are important attributes to put within the context of what you achieved in the previous year.

    You might start by asking your colleagues how they would describe your greatest strengths in a team environment. Be prepared to provide the same feedback to your colleagues. It’s a great way to get some perspective on the value you bring to a project. They might provide insight on strengths you take for granted. For example, you draft great notes at meetings, you always take time to actively listen, you respond quickly to emails or voicemail, you deliver creative ideas, and more.
  • Focus on outcomes, rather than activities. 
  • Rather than counting the number of phone calls (activity) you handle per day, focus instead on how happy clients are with their contact (outcome). Some departments and job areas are better suited to collect performance metrics than others, but every job has outcomes.

    If you haven’t keep a good record of work performed over the last year, then take some time to review past to-do lists, file folders or sent emails that will help trigger your memory. Once you have a good list of key projects, then you can begin building a record of outcomes and accomplishments.
  • Be specific and brief.
  • Saying something was a success is not enough. Instead, demonstrate why it was successful. For example, the project came in under budget, ahead of deadlines, garnered praise from users – who called it “one of the best websites I’ve seen in a long time” and resulted in a 10 percent increase in employee approval.

    At the same time, make your point quickly. Keep in mind that your supervisor may be reading multiple self-assessments, so keep your written answers short and concise.
  • Don't be falsely modest, but don't oversell yourself either.
  • Practicing self-awareness is an important part of a successful annual review. Keep in mind that your supervisor wants a true assessment of the work you’re doing. They aren’t deterred by understanding your achievements, but be careful not to come across as out of touch with your weaknesses.

    In addition to reporting on your performance, think about what you’ve learned over the past year. Demonstrate how you have applied the learning in your daily work to support organizational goals and objectives. Describe the ways in which your enhanced skills will help you achieve your own career goals and aspirations.
  • Be honest about your challenges. 
  • The annual performance review is an ideal time to have a conversation with your supervisor about an area or particular skill you would like to develop. A good employee has a growth mindset, meaning s/he thrives on challenges and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a springboard for growth and for stretching existing capabilities.

    Use this opportunity to reflect on what’s going on and how you can improve. A good supervisor is likely to bring it up anyway, so acknowledging areas for growth in advance will lead to a more productive conversation.
  • Start thinking about next year.
  • It’s never too early to develop goals for the next year and for your career. Reflecting on your future goals will put you in the best position to get a jump start on next year’s annual review. It’s also an opportunity to develop a process to record and track your performance throughout the year, so writing your next self-assessment is easier.