Helpful Tips for Writing a Self-Evaluation

Trying to summarize a year's worth of work and accomplishments into a few paragraphs can feel overwhelming. 

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.

Quotes from employees like you

"Organization is key"

I create a spreadsheet with different tabs for different activities that directly relate to my goals, which I made as measurable as possible (write X newspaper articles, complete Y online courses). I have a tab to track the newspaper articles I write, one for the professional development classes I complete, one to track the classes and events I participate in with my program, and more. This helps me show my supervisor measurable activities I've accomplished to meet each goal. It takes just a moment to open the file, go to the right tab, enter the date and a short description, and then move on with my normal work.

"Track your goals"

As one evaluation period ends and another begins, I create a Word doc that has categories along with my goals. For example, I am responsible for self-supporting activities so I have that as a category. At the start of each month, I look back through the prior month’s calendar and log those activities on my Word doc. I also have a category called “learning”. In that bucket, I put the various trainings I attended or new skills I learned. I never know until the end of the evaluation period which things will be important enough to include in my accomplishments but by updating the doc every month, it enables me to have everything right there at my fingertips come evaluation time instead of having to remember what I did 11 months ago.

"Hold onto your thank you notes"

I've created a folder in my inbox for P4P where throughout the year I'll drop in emails from others that include kudos or a special thank you for my work. When writing my summary of accomplishments I include a quote or two from the compliments received. Anything helpful to the process of writing a self-assessment could be included in the inbox folder. For anything relevant that may not be documented by a formal email communication, I'll write myself a quick email reminder with the details.