How to write a self-assessment for a performance review

Patrick Ward Patrick Ward Follow Jul 02, 2022 · 15 mins read
Performance review self-assessment: strategy, written examples

Performance review self-assessments should follow a simple template: start with a professional goal, identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, and end with action and an overall performance statement.

Within that template, effective self-assessments emphasize the employee's impact on high-priority business goals, while highlighting the employee's continued self-development within the company.

Creating a thoughtful performance review self-evaluation is among the most impactful internal marketing activites you can undertake.

Before typing up your self-evaluation, consider the strategies below to maximize your chances for merit-based pay increases and job security.

Top 3 Performance Review Statement Mistakes (and What to Do Instead)

MistakesTry This Instead
Not listing any weaknesses.You can always improve at something. List at least one area of growth.
Being too vague.Be very specific about your goals, strengths, and areas of growth. Use numbers and examples when possible.
Not preparing ahead of time.Block out an hour on your calendar to prepare for your review by reflecting and gathering relevant data.

List Your Weaknesses

Even if you are a top performer, there are always areas you can improve in. Not listing any weaknesses can give the impression you are arrogant. It also makes it seem like you didn’t invest any time in your performance review or that you don’t care about the process and the outcome. Think about what those things say about your work ethic. Listing at least one area to improve in, even if you don’t consider it to be a weakness, can pay off in the performance review process.

Be Specific

One of the biggest mistakes employees make is being too vague with their professional goals, strengths, and areas for improvement. If you can’t show tangible evidence of your successes, then how will your supervisor know how well you are doing? The same is true for your weaknesses. If you use a broad statement, it may appear that you have more weaknesses than you actually do. This is why you need to use specific examples to your advantage.

For example, “One of my weaknesses is time management.” This can mean several different things such as tardiness to work, not meeting deadlines, going past allotted meeting times, etc. However, using a specific statement, “One of my areas of growth is adhering to allotted meeting times,” makes a huge difference. This statement shows there is only one area of time management that is an area of growth, instead of several aspects.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Not taking adequate time to organize your thoughts, reflect on your achievements, and gather relevant data can have negative consequences on your merit increase. When you take the necessary steps to prepare, you can better advocate for yourself and negotiate a better merit increase. The Society of Human Resources Management recommends quantifying your achievements and recommitting yourself to the organization for the best performance review outcomes.

3 Easy Psychological Tricks to Look Better on Your Performance Review Self-Assessment

Psychological TipsEffect
Leverage key performance indicators.Emphasize your strengths and show "proof of value" for a compensation increase.
Be confident and driven.Your boss is more likely to rate you favorably.
Use "we" and "us" language.Shows your commitment to the organization and ability to work together as a team.

Leverage Key Performance Indicators

A great strategy to use in your self-assessment is to figure out which key performance indicators you need to meet that most directly impact your supervisor’s evaluation. What does your boss care about? How does your performance affect their evaluation? Use this information to your advantage, especially if it is one of your strengths, and emphasize it heavily in the review process.

You can also use one of these key performance indicators that are important to your boss in your areas of growth. Identify the specific area and set goals for that area in your performance review. When you achieve those goals next time, you will have something to brag about as “proof of value” and the reasoning behind the compensation increase.

Be Confident and Driven

Walking the line between confident and driven can be a useful strategy when going through the performance review process. When you exude confidence, your boss is more likely to rate you higher than that of a more passive employee. You can build your case by starting with small wins in your performance to build momentum to your bigger wins and eventually you ask for a merit increase.

Use “We” and “Our” Language

Use “we” and “our” statements when talking about your performance. This shows your commitment to the company and its success as well as your willingness to work as a team. Using this type of language reaffirms your dedication to doing your part to achieve larger organizational goals. During your performance review meeting, be sure to make enough eye contact, especially when you’re using this language. Eye contact has been proven to increase the success of persuasive efforts.

Self-assessment statement examples

Below are some great examples of performance review self-assessments. Notice how they each follow a similar progression.

  1. Start with a professional goal.
  2. Highlight strengths.
  3. State areas of growth and own up to any mistakes.
  4. End with an action plan on how you will grow in these areas.
  5. Overall self-assessment statement on your performance.

Consider these example statements:

My main professional goal is to grow my knowledge and understanding of software as a service industry. Over the past year, I have worked to accomplish this goal in my job functions by attending training sessions and keeping up with industry news and trends. I have successfully led team projects around the development of new software. I turned in projects on or before deadlines and collaborated with my team and other subject matter experts. I have, however, recognized my need for growth in the area of timely communication. Oftentimes I would get wrapped up in a project and wait a week to respond to important emails or voicemails. I recognize this is not conducive to a collaborative environment. I will be using organizational strategies like calendar reminders to keep myself on track for responding in a timely manner. Overall, I’m pleased with my performance and my progression towards my goal of growth in the software as a service field. I’m looking forward to continuing my progression towards this goal with the company.

As a marketing professional, I am always looking for ways to perfect my digital marketing skills and implement new, effective strategies. Throughout my six months of employment at the company, I have successfully created and implemented a new digital marketing strategy that has brought the company 20% more leads and sales. I worked well both leading and participating in departmental and cross-departmental projects. However, I have noticed my time management is in need of improvement. When I would lead meetings, they would often go beyond the allotted time frame. This not only impacts my productivity, but the productivity of the marketing team, and even other departments. I recognize my need for additional time management and meeting management training. I will be seeking out and attending training sessions specifically around conducting efficient and effective meetings. Then, I will implement these strategies so that my meetings are more productive and respectful of my colleagues’ time. As a whole, I am very satisfied with my performance at the company. I’m excited to continue growing both personally and professionally with my employment here.

My main professional goal as a recruiter is to stay current with Human Resources trends when sourcing and interviewing applicants. It’s important for me to stay ahead of the competition so that our company hires the best and brightest employees. Over the last quarter, I’ve managed to develop and implement new, cutting edge recruiting and sourcing strategies. This has led to the company attracting and hiring the best candidates in our industry. I do recognize that I need to grow in the area of problem solving. I often require the help of my colleagues or supervisors to help me solve problems that arise. I realize this can be problematic not only for my productivity, but for the productivity of my supervisor and co-workers. I will be seeking additional training and access to company resources for my specific job functions. Overall, I’m happy with my performance and am looking forward to continuing my growth as a Human Resources professional with the company.

How do I start a self-assessment statement?

Before you begin writing your self-assessment statement, reflect on your performance as a whole since your last review period, or since starting your position. Be honest with yourself about what has gone well and what has been a challenge for you. You can use these questions to guide your thinking.

  • What specific job duties or functions are going well?
  • What specific job duties or functions are a struggle for me?
  • Do I have data to back up my claims?
  • Why do I think this specific job function is going well? Is it something that comes easy to me or is it something I’ve had to put a lot of effort into?
  • Why do I think I’m struggling with this specific job function? Have I struggled with this in the past?

Once you’ve reflected on your performance, start writing your self-assessment statement by stating your professional goals. These can be general or specific goals.

Some examples of professional goals include:

My goal is to expand my knowledge and understanding of the marketing industry

I’m looking to grow professionally by expanding my sales and marketing knowledge to the recruiting industry.

I would like to work towards achieving a Six Sigma certification.

How do I end a self-assessment statement?

After you’ve identified your goals, areas of strength, and skills to improve on, end your self-assessment statement with action and an overall evaluation of your performance. Think about your areas of growth.

You can ask yourself these questions:

  • How am I going to improve my performance in my areas of growth?
  • What resources or training sessions will I need to improve my performance in these areas?
  • How will I implement strategies to improve my performance?
  • What does progress look like for these areas?

After you’ve given it some thought, finish your self-assessment statement with an action plan and an overall assessment of your performance. It can be something along the lines of, “I will attend training sessions and implement time management strategies to ensure my projects are completed on or before deadlines. Overall, I am satisfied with my performance and I’m looking forward to continuing my progress towards my professional goals and growth with the company.”

What to include in an action plan for your self-assessment statement?

As you’re wrapping up your self-assessment statement with an action plan, you need to reflect on your overall performance, and specifically any areas of improvement. Consider how your improvement can better the company and figure out how you can make that happen.

I’ve written a full guide to effective “areas of improvement” statements previously.

Your action plan can include some of the following steps:

  • Attend a training session
  • Find a mentor within the company
  • Identify company or industry specific resources
  • Find online courses to better a specific skill
  • Ask a peer or supervisor to shadow your process and give feedback
  • Volunteer for more projects that give an opportunity to better a specific skill set

Some sample action plans are:

In order to achieve my goal of being more organized during my projects, I will attend training sessions on organization in the workplace and implement the strategies I learn. I will also start using calendar reminders and weekly emails to stay on task with my current and future projects. Additionally, I will find an accountability partner to help keep me on track with this goal.

I will work towards my goal of expanding my knowledge of the marketing industry by joining my local American Marketing Association and attending meetings. This will help me network with other marketing professionals and give me the opportunity to grow my knowledge in this industry.

What to write for “What are some things I do well?”

Take some time to reflect on projects or initiatives that went well for you. How do you know they went well? What was the outcome? If you’re struggling to identify your strengths, consult your supervisor, team members, or other co-workers. Ask them what they view your strengths are and what value you add to the team.

You can also think back to anytime you got verbal or written praise from your direct supervisor, the leadership team, or your fellow team members. These aspects can help you identify patterns and guide you when you write about your strengths.

Here are some sample statements for “What are some things I do well?”:

Throughout my time at the company, I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback on my collaboration and leadership on projects with coworkers. I believe both collaboration and leadership are some of my strong suits. I thoroughly enjoy working with others to solve complex problems. I appreciate learning different perspectives and solutions. I also find it fulfilling to lead a team and help everyone work together towards a common goal.

Some of my strengths include adhering to strict deadlines and communicating effectively in both written and oral communication. I have gotten positive feedback from my supervisor specifically on my communication skills. I not only relay my message clearly and professionally, but I do so in a timely manner. I also turn in the majority of my projects and work assignments on or before the agreed upon deadline.

What to write for “What are some areas I could improve on?”

This area can be difficult to write about. Reflect back on projects that did not go well, challenged you, or did not have the outcome you anticipated. Think of any skills you have gotten negative feedback on.

  • You can ask yourself things like:
  • Is there any skill that I struggle with?
  • Do I need extra help in any aspects of my job?
  • What have I gotten negative feedback on?

You can also reflect on any time your supervisor or co-workers gave you constructive criticism. Do you notice any patterns? What stands out to you? Use that to guide what you write for your areas of improvement.

Here are some sample statements for “What are some areas I could improve on?”:

After some self-reflection, I’ve determined some areas of improvement for me are time management in meetings and written communication. I’ve noticed that I frequently hold meetings that go beyond the allotted time frame. This not only disrupts my coworkers’ day but my schedule as well. I have also gotten feedback that my written communication is unclear to others.

I’ve gotten feedback from my coworkers that I can do a better job of collaborating on team projects. After reflecting on this feedback, I have also noticed that I typically prefer to work alone, instead of on a team. This often leads me to leave out the perspectives of important project stakeholders, which ends up dragging the project out longer.

Takeaways & Resources

Performance reviews, specifically the self-assessment portion, can bring about anxiety. It’s difficult to reflect on your performance, particularly any weaknesses you have. However, taking the proper time and energy to complete this section of your performance review can pay off with high level merit increases.

The most important points to remember when writing your self-assessment are:

  • Avoid the 3 most common mistakes.
  • Be sure to include a goal, strengths, weaknesses, an action plan, and an overall assessment.
  • Use psychology to help you look better.

If you’re still struggling with your self-assessment, try using the five-step format listed above and then have a trusted co-worker or friend review it. Getting a second set of eyes on it can help you identify any weak points and areas for improvement. If you don’t have anyone to help you, write your self-assessment, then come back to review it in a day or two. A fresh look will help you to determine if it is accurately portraying your goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

Patrick Ward
Written by Patrick Ward Follow
Hi, I'm Patrick. I made this site to share my expertise on team augmentation, nearshore development, and remote work.
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