Regardless of the type of job you have, or the industry you enter after graduation, chances are that you will have an annual evaluation period at work. In many cases, this process begins with a writing a self-evaluation, and reflecting on the past year (or sometimes six months), then submitting the self eval to your direct supervisor. Often, they will read your self-eval and then use it to inform their formal evaluation of you for the year. While this process sometimes seems like it has just ended when another one begins, or sometimes you hear yourself complain that you don’t have time to write your own self evaluation (we’ve all been there! it’s been a busy year, to say the least!) this process doesn’t have to be arduous, and should be looked at as an opportunity, not a burden. Reflection is a key part of any role you take on, and you’ve probably done a good amount of thinking already (without realizing it!) about the past year, your goals, and what you would like to achieve in the future. Here are some tips to writing a self-evaluation – whether it is your first, fiftieth, or five hundredth time writing one!
Plan Ahead & Be S.M.A.R.T!
A great way to be prepared for your self-evaluation is to make goals for yourself – even if you haven’t been told to do so! Having goals makes it easier to reflect on the past year – how far have you progressed through your goals? What did you achieve? What are you still working on? When you brainstorm at the beginning of each year and do some goal setting, I highly recommend you make your goals S.M.A.R.T! Each letter in this acronym stands for something that helps make you actually make progress on your goals. Ask yourself, and make sure each goal you set is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-Bound. You can read more about S.M.A.R.T. goals here , or also through a simple google search. Get reading, and get planning! Planning your goals now will make writing your performance evaluation later much, much easier!
When writing your performance evaluation, make sure you consider both your successes and areas of improvement. Not every S.M.A.R.T. goal you make at the beginning of a year may be met, and a lot of times, that is okay – you only work so many hours in a week, month, and year! Additionally, many times, other goals and other projects and tasks pop up throughout the year that you did not anticipate, and as things are delegated to you, you can find a lot of your time going towards goals you didn’t know were coming, and that’s okay! Just be honest with yourself about which goals you planned for that you did make strides towards, and which ones need more work. You should also be honest about areas of improvement. Chances are, if you think your motivation has dipped recently, or your communication methods need improvement, your supervisor has probably noticed these things too, and by being honest in your self eval, you make everyone’s life easier. By owning up to areas you need to improve in, you are already on the path and completing the first step towards improvement!
Celebrate your Successes!
While honesty is key, sometimes we find ourselves doubting our own successes and achievements. Whether its imposter syndrome, or feeling like you’ve had an “off” year, its important to not only think about what you need to work on, but also to celebrate your successes! Go in depth about what work you’ve done this year that has really excelled, and made you proud. Think about the impact some of your projects have had on others, and what makes you most proud in your role. Don’t sell yourself short – your contributions to your company, organization, or team are pivotal, and you should articulate your excellent work in your self-evaluation, to make sure your supervisor knows all the great work you’ve done!
Self-evaluations are a key part of nearly any career or industry, and they don’t need to be something you dread. By using goals that are S.M.A.R.T., being honest, and celebrating your wins, the reflection involved in writing a self evaluation can be something not only helpful for your supervisor, but also for yourself. As you reflect on the last year, you are growing as a professional, and continuing your career journey – make sure to check in with yourself not only once a year, but continually, about what you want professionally, and where you are on that path!