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How to Write an Effective Self Evaluation

Evaluating yourself can be a challenge. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also need to make sure you don’t come off as too full of yourself either. Use these tips to write a self evaluation that hits the mark.

Overview of a Self Evaluation

A self evaluation is a tool used by many managers to get their employees’ perspectives about performance, attributes and weaknesses. Although self evaluations are not useful as a stand-alone tool for assessing performance, they can be invaluable when it comes to reviewing past events and learning how employees feel about work processes. Using this information, managers can make changes to improve work environments and processes.

Benefits of a Self Evaluation

Managers will request self evaluations for several reasons. Learning how you see yourself within an organization and how you understand expectations helps managers be more effective. Your manager can gain insight about inter-personnel communication as well. These evaluations can also be effective for motivating employees, especially those that are intrinsically motivated to grow and improve.

Points to Cover

Your self evaluation should include specific data and quantifiable results you produced during the review period. These details demonstrate specific skills and tangible results. Make sure to include these points:

  • Organize your accomplishments into a few categories. If unexpected projects came up, include these items too, so you can demonstrate your adaptability.
  • Include quotes and feedback you’ve received that supports your skills and performance. This feedback might come from coworkers, managers or customers.
  • Highlight strengths you have to show how your skills had a positive impact.
  • List a couple of goals you have or skills you’d like to develop over the coming year. Inquire about opportunities for growth that might arise.
  • Use action words and phrases to describe your accomplishments.

What to Skip

You may be tempted to include the following, but doing so will likely reflect poorly on you.

  • Resist the urge to criticize others in your self-evaluation. You are writing about yourself, no one else. Avoid taking a defensive tact as well.
  • Address any weaknesses you have as an opportunity to improve instead of focusing on negatives.
  • Don’t make excuses for errors or failures. Instead, frame these situations as learning experiences, taking responsibility and making specific goals to succeed.

Using Self Evaluation Examples

It may help to review a few self evaluation examples as you work on your own self examination. These examples will usually show organized accomplishments and projects, highlighting skills used and actions taken to finish these tasks. You’ll also get ideas for how to describe challenges with positive framing and how to ask for new growth opportunities for the coming year.

Once you finish writing your self-evaluation, ask a coworker or family member to read it. Make sure you proofread it carefully so that it’s free of errors and typos.


how to start a self evaluation essay

Self Evaluation Essay

Self Evaluation Essay

This semester was challenging but fruitful for me because I had to work hard so far but I have managed to reach a considerable progress in my learning and I believe I have been successful so far. In this regard, my failures are as important for me as or even more important than my successes because I have learned from my failures more than I have done from my success. Therefore, the main lesson I have learned is probably the fact that I should not rejoice, when I succeed, but I should rather stay aware and focused on my progress to perform well and succeed in my learning.

            On analyzing my performance during the semester, I believe that I was quite successful to a significant extent. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that I have completed seven essays during the semester and almost all of them were quite successful because I received “A” grade for the majority of my essays. I really liked my performance but I am always concerned with receiving “A” grades for my work which is the only acceptable grade for me. I am success-oriented person. This is why I just cannot afford the grade below “A”.

            Such personal position urges me to do my best and to work hard to gain the possibly highest degree but, on the other hand, it is sometimes difficult and even frustrating to pursue the highest degree, especially if it is extremely difficult to receive. For example, there were cases, when I felt the task was quite challenging for me to complete it successfully. This is why I had to work really hard to obtain “A” degree for those papers. Nevertheless, I am aware that such tasks have made the most significant contribution to my progress and academic development because they encouraged not only my creativity but also stimulated the development of research skills which helped me to learn more about the subject I wrote about and to improve my writing and academic performance overall (Frosh 103).

            By the way, I believe research skills became particularly important for me during the semester because, while writing my papers, I conducted some research first. I have noticed that I was not really enthusiastic about researching topics which I believed I knew well. However, when I started the research, I found out many important and noteworthy facts, which I have never known before. Such revelations encouraged me to conduct the research of any topic I was writing about because it would be just arrogant from my part just to write the paper from the scratch on the ground of what I believe I know about the topic (Elliot 135). Now I believe that too much self-confidence seems to be not the best feature of a good writer.

            At the same time, there was one paper which I was not really good at and which I perceive as a sheer failure. I did not receive “A” grade for that paper because it turned out to be unbalanced, not clear and too broad that made me think of the lack of focus I had, while working on that paper. Frankly, my failure was probably the best lesson I learned from the semester. This failure made me focused on my paper and encouraged me to organize my papers better since I singled out the main point and attempted to draw back-up points to support it throughout my papers.

            Thus, I made a considerable progress during the semester and I am ready to keep working hard and learn not only from my success but also from my failures.

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How to Write a Self-Evaluation With Examples

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What is self-evaluation?

How to perform a self-evaluation, examples of self-evaluations, top self-evaluation tips.

Self-evaluations are an important tool in all kinds of workplaces to promote self-awareness, increase productively and encourage employees to set personal goals. Writing a successful self-evaluation that accurately represents both your strengths and weakness can be challenging. This article provides step-by-step instructions, examples and tips that will help you write high-quality self-evaluations.

Read more:  Employee Evaluation Examples

In the workplace, self-evaluation is the process of examining your own performance. Self-evaluation involves considering your strengths and weaknesses and being self-aware of how they affect your activities at work. Many employers require employees to complete a self-evaluation once every quarter or once a year. Most self-evaluations include reviewing accomplishments, addressing mistakes and setting goals for the future. Self-evaluations are sometimes called self-assessments or self-performance reviews. 

Read more:  Personal Goal Setting and How It Affects Your Work

Here are several steps to help you successfully complete a self-evaluation:

1. First, know your audience

The first step in writing a self-evaluation is finding out who is going to read it. Knowing to whom to address your self-evaluation will help you be more specific and efficient when writing. For example, if you know that a direct supervisor, who is already familiar with your work, is going to read your evaluation, you probably will not have to define any terms or provide much background information. However, if your evaluation will be read by the manager of another department, you may need to include more specific details or even a brief personal introduction.

If you are unsure of who will read your self-evaluation or if your employer intentionally withholds that information, you should try to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible. This may require eliminating jargon and using a more common vocabulary.

2. Second, list your accomplishments

The next step is making a comprehensive list of what you have achieved since your last evaluation. This includes any skills you have acquired, all projects you have completed and any company wins to which you contributed. Once you have your list, tailor it down to only the most relevant and significant. Your most important accomplishments are the ones that specifically benefited your team or the company at large. If you can prove your performance had a definite impact on others in the workplace, your self-evaluation will likely get a positive response.

When considering your accomplishments, try to find quantified data that can verify your claims. For instance, if you broke your personal sales record in the last quarter, it would be helpful to find out the exact number so that you can calculate how much your sales average has improved in the last 12 months. Including that figure in your evaluation will increase the impact of your accomplishment.

3. Third, comment on any challenges

In addition to summarizing your successes, you should also address any mistakes, challenges or shortcomings. Review specific areas in which you feel that you did not meet expectations. Avoid making excuses and instead, focus on how you plan to overcome your challenges. Whenever possible, frame your weaknesses as opportunities for growth. Acknowledging your mistakes and suggesting possibilities for self-improvement will help your evaluation seem mature and honest.

4. Then, set future goals

Next, you should set personal goals for both the short and long terms. Provide a specific overview of how you plan to improve your performance and overcome your weaknesses. if possible, include a general timeline or set deadlines for when you expect to achieve these goals. Establishing your goals in your evaluation will help you to stay accountable and motivated as you work toward your objectives.

5. Finally, give feedback

Finally, your evaluation should end with a paragraph that gives both positive and negative feedback. This paragraph is an opportunity for you to acknowledge other employees who have helped you during the last quarter or year. Mention them by name and provide specific instances in which their efforts contributed to you meeting a goal or acquiring a skill. There is nothing wrong with taking full responsibility for your own achievements, but it is always a good idea to recognize anyone else who also shared in your success.

Read more:  Setting SMART Goals to Enhance Your Career

Here are two examples of successful self-evaluations:

‘In my first six months as a customer support technician for Anderson Electronics, I have held myself to high standards for customer communication and satisfaction. I believe my commitment to excellence can be seen in the results of my work. My team has an established goal for keeping all technical calls under 12 minutes in length. In the last three months, I maintained an average call time of 10.33 minutes according to my direct supervisor. I have also maintained an average customer satisfaction rating of 89% since I began taking unsupervised calls. That is only 2% lower than the average rate of 91% for more experienced employees with the same role.

I believe the greatest factor in my success has been my ability to absorb information quickly and to learn from my mistakes. My supervisor, Riley Nottingham, was an amazing trainer who was so helpful during my first four weeks on the job. Under his supervision, I was able to become extremely familiar with the company’s information databanks. Since I began making calls, I have never made the same mistake twice. I look at each and every call as an opportunity to improve my performance and to exceed expectations.’

‘After reviewing my personal performance data from 2019, I have determined that my customer satisfaction ratings for the entire year are equal to: Q1 – 87%, Q2 – 86%, Q3 – 88%, Q4 – 85%. My total average for the year is 86.5%. That number is almost 3% higher than the department’s total average of 83.8%. My data entry error rate was 3.2%, the lowest in my team. The packaging and distribution team recognized my efforts in September for the quality, accuracy and clarity of the orders I submitted. As of last week, all of my customer orders were officially processed in less than 24 hours.

In regards to the areas in which I could improve, I will be the first to admit that I struggled when interacting with one of our distribution partners, Endsley Shipping. I found Mr. Wright, our contact within the company, to be unreliable and difficult to communicate with. I have made efforts to always send follow-up emails after every phone call to eliminate the possibility of miscommunication. I am still uncertain as to how to improve our professional relationship and stabilize our companies’ partnership. I would welcome any suggestions or guidance that you might have on the matter.’

Here are some additional tips to help you write a self-evaluation:

  • Be specific.  Provide data, figures and dollar amounts to back up your statements. The more specific you are, the more impressive your accomplishments will be.
  • Provide updates on past goals.  If you set goals in your last self-evaluation, update your reader on your progress. Mention the goals you have successfully met and comment on the ones you still need to work on.
  • Focus on the future.  If you feel that your performance has fallen short in any way, outline a specific plan for how you intend to do better in the future. If you feel that you have exceeded expectations, be sure to make it known that you would be interested in pursuing opportunities for advancement.

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How to Write a Self-Evaluation Essay

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Once you are given the task of preparing a self-assessment essay, the pressure might build to dangerous levels. You are required to submit a brief appraisal of your professional achievements during the last year. Furthermore, it should be done in such a manner that it demonstrates your desire to continue to improve. How tough could it possibly be? Yes, it is possible to get lost in your ideas on how to write a decent self-evaluation essay. The best essays of this kind tick the boxes of the topics covered in this post on steps for writing an evaluation essay .

Furthermore, lengthy preparations are required for this sort of work. So it is usually a good idea to keep track of your accomplishments during the whole year you are referring to. However, this is not always achievable. This is especially true if you had not anticipated having to cope with the self-evaluation paper. There is a method to completing the finest self-assessment essay possible. It is beneficial when you know from the beginning what a good assessment must appear like and how it can be utilized to make decisions. This specific self-assessment is not the time or place for hesitancy or indecision.

According to an expert in this field, Angelina Grin, if you are able to provide a thorough self-review, you demonstrate that you are a self-aware individual. It implies that your cognizance is founded on your self-assurance and not vice versa.

how to start a self evaluation essay

What Exactly is a Self-Assessment Essay and How Does It Work?

how to start a self evaluation essay

What distinguishes a self-assessment paper from any other piece of writing is that you will not be required to do any academic research in order to complete this paper. You will be evaluated entirely on the basis of your character, your strengths and limitations, your successes and failures, and your educational background.

There is a very obvious aim to the self-assessment essay: by taking a close look at yourself, you see how far you’ve gone, how much you’ve accomplished, and what you can do to accomplish even more. Using the self-assessment document, you’ll be able to see what you’ve done well and wrong during your trip, as well as the modifications you can make to your leadership and workplace habits in order to reap the benefits of many future successes.

Scholars often employ this sort of study, but students may also benefit from doing research on their own personalities and accomplishments. It is possible to write a self-assessment essay even if your professor has not specifically requested that you do so. Whenever you are experiencing self-doubt or wondering what went wrong when you were unable to achieve your goals, writing a self-assessment paper will provide you with an insight into your journey thus far, where everything you have achieved and failed to accomplish is clearly visible.

How to Write a Self-Assessment Essay

Create an essay outline.

The precise format of your paper is pivotal to the success of your work, even if a self-assessment essay is unlike any other write-up you have ever completed. Think about the information you are including in your paper before you begin drafting an outline for it.

Before drafting an outline, it is a good idea to decide on the criteria for self-assessment. 

Typically, the outline acts as the opening to a self-assessment paper, which is why you may include a brief explanation of each area that will also function as a preface to each section for the reader.

Talk about your recent performance on a variety of assignments

The concept is similar to that of creating a statement of purpose, but with far less work. If you’ve reached the stage where you need to create a self-assessment report, it’s likely that you’ve accomplished a great deal. The very first element the reader wants to see in the essay is your comment on the successes of the most recent project, which you should provide in the introduction. Give some specifics about the projects, including who they were for, who participated in the project, when the project was due, and how you individually performed on the project. Provide an explanation of both the ways in which you contributed to the project’s outcome and how you judged the effectiveness of your contribution.

Identify your own personal strengths and shortcomings

Providing an honest appraisal of your own strengths and limitations is a crucial component of any self-assessment essay. Discuss your positive and negative characteristics without making any reference to your previous undertakings, but do discuss how those characteristics assisted you in completing those tasks. The previous experiences that shaped you as a person may be discussed here; though not all of the experiences had a great result, understanding what events led to your personality characteristics is significant for individuals who will be reading your work. If the events of the past have resulted in you developing new talents or discovering new facts about yourself, be sure to highlight that as well.

Copyright: Maggie Parker <[email protected]>

Describe your objectives

You may be very satisfied with your achievements to date, but if you haven’t any objectives in mind, you will come across as a person who is lacking in ambition. Discuss in detail what you really want to accomplish in the near or even far future, as well as which of your personal characteristics and prior experiences will assist you in achieving your goals.

The Most Important Tips for Writing a Self-Evaluation Essay

how to start a self evaluation essay

It is possible that you may be requested to create a self-review in order to demonstrate your professionalism and your willingness to continue your professional development. The process of coming up with appropriate concepts for self-reported data takes time. In any case, you must make a decision on what will be included in your report from the beginning. Furthermore, you should have an awareness of the reasons why your company has requested that you submit a self-review.

  • Always come up with creative solutions.

When you are requested to share your successes, strengths, and flaws, you must think about solutions as soon as you are asked to do so. If you admit to a flaw, you must demonstrate how you will ultimately overcome it. Instead of attempting to conceal your vulnerabilities, it is preferable to identify them and determine how to combat them successfully. There is always room for growth and development.

  • Continue to be imminent but fleeting

If you have had any professional setbacks, there is no reason to dwell on them excessively. Utilize the same recommendations and deliver effective solutions. It is preferable to keep this section as brief as possible.

  • Make your successes known

You must, without a doubt, concentrate on your own achievement. At about the same period, the pieces that have flaws and faults are necessary to function well. It would seem unfair to do a self-review based just on facts of achievement. Even yet, while you’re concentrating on your successes, tell the truth.

  • Demonstrate your professional worth

It is imperative that you should not fail to acknowledge the contribution of your company to your successes. No way are you going to be able to conduct a campaign on your own. Demonstrate your significant contribution to corporate efforts, but do not fail to do so as a member of a well-organized collaboration environment. It will distinguish you as a highly effective team member.

If you follow the suggestions and in-depth explanations that have been offered above, you should be able to write a well-written self-evaluation essay without difficulty. When writing, keep your sentences short and to the point. Only share relevant experiences.

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How to Write a Self Evaluation (With Examples)

how to start a self evaluation essay

Given a choice between cleaning the office microwave and writing a self evaluation, most people would probably grab the all-purpose cleaner and a roll of paper towels.

Self evaluations are performance assessments that bring you and your manager together to rate your performance over a given time span (quarterly, semi-annually, annually) either using a scale (one to 10 or one to five) or by answering open-ended questions. You complete the evaluation and so does your manager. During the performance review , the two of you compare notes to arrive at a final evaluation.

Writing about yourself, especially if those words are going to be part of your permanent work record, can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, self evaluations give you a voice in your performance review , and they’re opportunities to outline your career goals and get help in reaching them.

What Is an Employee Self Evaluation?

Workplace employee self evaluations can be traced back to management theorist Douglas McGregor, author of the groundbreaking 1960 book The Human Side of Enterprise . McGregor believed that employees enjoy work, are intrinsically motivated to work and have the self-direction and ambition to do so.

In a 1957 Harvard Business Review article, McGregor presented self evaluations as a way to give employees and managers a way to work together to judge workplace performance, rather than handing a manager total control. “Managers are uncomfortable when they are put in the position of ‘playing God,’” he wrote.

Today, the goal of self evaluations is twofold, according to Leslie Mizerak, an executive coach at edtech company NimblyWise . They give managers an understanding of where their employees think they are in relation to their goals, and they give employees a voice that is heard and documented.

Below, we’ll examine self evaluation examples, types of self assessments, why companies use self evaluations and how both employees and managers can complete them successfully.

More on Self Evaluations Self-Evaluations Make Stronger Leaders. Here’s How to Write One.

Benefits of Self Evaluations 

Academic literature indicates that employees are more satisfied with evaluations that involve two-way communication and encourage a conversation between manager and employee, according to Thomas Begley, professor of management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute . 

The thing is, employees have to trust that the process is fair, Begley added. If they believe it is, and they’re treated fairly and respectfully during the process, employees react positively to self evaluations. “If unfair, they lose trust in the manager and process, become disgruntled and are more likely to leave the organization,” Begley said.

Self evaluations might seem as a way to shift the burden of the review to the employee from the manager, but in reality, they benefit both.

“Self evaluations enable employees to see their work in its entirety,” Jill Bowman, director of people at fintech company Octane , said. “They ensure that employees reflect on their high points throughout the entire year and to assess their progress towards achieving predetermined objectives and goals.” 

Some companies see tangible results from self evaluations. For example, Smarty , an address-verification company, enjoys low staff turnover, said Rob Green, chief revenue officer. The self-evaluation method, coupled with a strong focus on a communication-based corporate culture, has resulted in a 97 percent retention rate, Green said.

Since self evaluations are inherently reflective, they allow employees to identify and examine their strengths and weaknesses. When identifying strengths, employees will be able to use specific metrics and examples from their work to demonstrate their value. This helps employees both know their worth to an organization and what they still have left to learn. 

For Bowman, employee self assessments also help managers more accurately remember each employee’s accomplishments. 

“As many managers often have numerous direct reports, it provides a useful summary of the achievements of each member,” Bowman said. “Self-evaluations also help account for performance across the full year as opposed to just the most recent tasks and accomplishments that are likely still top of mind.”

It may seem obvious, but self assessments also help prepare both employees and managers for performance reviews. Completing a self evaluation can help guide the conversation in a structured, but meaningful, way. It also helps both parties get an idea of what needs to be discussed during a performance review, so neither feels caught off guard by the conversation.

Types of Self Evaluations

Self evaluations come in several varieties. One involves open-ended questions or statements asking employees to list accomplishments, setbacks and goals . Another gives a list of statements where employees are asked to rate themselves on a scale of one to five or one to ten (generally the higher the number, the more favorable the rating). Hybrid evaluations combine the two. Each approach has its own set of pros and cons to consider.

Open-ended Question Self Evaluation

Open-ended questions can vary from company to company and can serve different purposes, depending on the angle of the question. The goal of open-ended questions is generally the same: to get employees thinking deeply about their work, how they’ve accomplished their goals and where they need to improve. 

Open-ended questions allow employees a true voice in the process, whereas “self ratings” can sometimes be unfair , Fresia Jackson, lead research people scientist at Culture Amp , said. 

With open-ended questions, employees tend to be more forgiving with themselves, which can be both good and bad. Whatever result open ended questions bring about, they typically offer more fodder for discussion between employees and managers.  

Rating Self Evaluation 

Rating self evaluation systems vary widely too. For instance, Smarty uses a tool called 3A+. Unlike most self evaluations, this one calls for employees and managers to sit down and complete the evaluation together, at the same time. Employees rate themselves from 3, 2 or 1 (three being the best) on their capability in their role; A, B or C on their helpfulness to others, and plus or minus on their “diligence and focus” in their role. Managers rate the employees using the same scale. A “perfect” score would be 3A+, while an employee who needs some TLC would rate 2B-.

At the performance evaluation meeting, managers and employees compare their ratings, and employees ask for feedback on how they can improve, Susan Young, human resources manager at Smarty , said.

Young likes the approach, developed by management company Arbinger , because the second part of the evaluation acknowledges that employees don’t work in a silo, and that their actions affect others. “It’s a win-win,” Young said.

But rating systems can have their challenges that are often rooted in bias. For example, women are more likely to rate themselves lower than men. People from individualistic cultures, which emphasize individuals over community, will rate themselves higher than people from collectivist cultures, which place a premium on the group rather than the individual, Jackson said.

Hybrid Self Evaluations

Hybrid self evaluations, such as the ones from the Society for Human Resource Management , include a rating scale where employees score themselves one through five on skills including project management, collaboration and teamwork and communication. Here’s an example of some questions that might be asked in a hybrid self evaluation:

  • List your most significant accomplishments or contributions since last year. How do these achievements align with the goals and objectives outlined in your last review?

Since the last appraisal period, have you successfully performed any new tasks or additional duties outside the scope of your regular responsibilities? If so, please specify.

What activities have you initiated, or actively participated in, to encourage camaraderie and teamwork within your group and/or office? What was the result?

  • Describe your professional development activities since last year, such as offsite seminars, onsite training, peer training, management coaching or mentoring, on-the-job experience, exposure to challenging projects, etc. 

Describe areas you feel require improvement in terms of your professional capabilities. List the steps you plan to take and/or the resources you need to accomplish this.

Identify two career goals for the coming year and indicate how you plan to accomplish them.

Self-Evaluation Questions for Performance Reviews

If you’ve never done a self evaluation, or if you just need a refresher before your next performance review, looking over some examples of self evaluation questions — like the ones below — can be a helpful starting point. They provide a sense of what to expect from your next self evaluation, and they may even help you craft your answers (or help you write your next round of questions, if you’re a manager). 

Self Evaluation Questions for Performance Reviews

These are some questions commonly found in a semi-annual or annual performance review:

  • What are you most proud of?
  • What would you do differently?
  • How have you carried out the company’s mission statement?
  • Where would you like to be a year from now?
  • List your skills and positive attributes.
  • List your accomplishments, especially those that impacted others or moved you toward goals.
  • Think about your mistakes and what you’ve learned from them.
  • What are your opportunities to grow through advancement and/or learning?
  • How do the above tie to your professional goals?

Self Evaluation Questions for Career Planning and Growth 

Questions on this type of evaluation tend to focus on an employee’s goals for their job and career:

  • What are you interested in working on?
  • What are you working on now?
  • What do you want to learn more about?
  • How can I as your manager better support you?
  • What can the company do to support your journey?
  • How can the immediate team support you?
  • What can you do to better support the team and the company? 

Self Evaluation Questions for Performance and Career Goals

This type of self evaluation puts a premium on career goals and how well employees meet them:

  • How did you perform in relation to your goals?
  • What level of positive impact did your performance have on the team?
  • Did your performance have a positive impact on the business?
  • What was your level of collaboration with other departments?
  • What corporate value do you bring to life?
  • What corporate value do you most struggle to align with?
  • Summarize your strengths.
  • Summarize your development areas.
  • Summarize your performance/achievements during this year.
  • How would you rate your overall performance this year? 

More on Career Development How to Set Professional Goals

How to Write a Self Evaluation

The ability to write a self evaluation is a critical career skill, said Richard Hawkes, CEO and founder of Growth River , a leadership and management consulting company. 

“Self evaluations give you a platform to influence your manager and in many cases, reframe the nature of the relationship with your manager,” Hawkes said. “And all results in business happen in the context of relationships.”

6 Tips for Writing a Self Evaluation

  • Keep track of your hits and misses throughout the review period.
  • Take your time writing the evaluation.
  • Have a mentor, trusted colleague or friend read over your draft.
  • Acknowledge mistakes and how you learned from them.
  • Be clear about your career goals.
  • Use the evaluation as a starting point for a conversation with your manager.

In Hawkes’ estimation, the ability to write a comprehensive self evaluation becomes a career tool and a life tool. 

Below are some tips from Hawkes and others on how to complete a self evaluation.

 Track Your Work

Daily or weekly tracking of your work can help you keep track of your progress and also prevent last-minute “what on earth did I do the last six months?” panic at performance evaluation time, said Peter Griscom, CEO at New York-based Tradefluence , which makes a stock-picking app. “Strip down the questions to two or three, and just ask yourself, ‘How well did I communicate today?’ ‘How well did I solve problems today?’ ‘What have I achieved today?’” Griscom said. 

“Get in the habit of writing those things out and keeping track and over time, that will help you get very comfortable with self evaluations and understand the purpose behind them,” he said, adding that he’s done just that over his career in tech.

Take Your Time

“It’s not something you can do in 15 minutes,” Hawkes said. “Slow down, take time and let your objectives stew a little bit.” Write a first draft as soon as possible after getting the email or message from your manager. Let it sit for a few days and then return to it to polish and revise.

Griscom remembers his first self evaluation, asked of him when he was head of product at a consumer-goods company. He remembers wondering whether he had to be overly brutal on himself, deciding how to best answer the questions, and trying to figure out how the answers would affect his career. “I think I over-thought it the first time,” he said.

Rather than plague himself with questions, he asked his manager, the CFO of the company, for guidance. “He said, ‘just give me your honest answers; there is no right or wrong,’” Griscom recalled. So Griscom answered the questions as accurately as he could. “What came out of it was really valuable, because it gave me a chance to reflect on my own achievements and think about where I can improve,” he said. “It forced me to do the thinking instead of just accepting feedback.”  

Tout Your Wins

If your boss has a handful of direct reports, chances are good they haven’t noticed each of your shining moments during a review period. This is your chance to spotlight yourself. Quotas exceeded, projects finished ahead of schedule, fruitful mentoring relationships, processes streamlined — whatever you’ve done, share it, and don’t be shy about it, said Alexandra Phillips , a leadership and management coach. Women, especially, tend not to share achievements and accomplishments as loudly or often as they should, Phillips said. “Make sure your manager has a good sense of where you’ve had those wins, large and small, because sometimes they can fly under the radar,” she added.

More on Career Development Long-Term Career Goals: How to Set a Successful Development Plan

Admit Weaknesses (and How You’ve Grown From Them)

If you’ve made a whopper mistake since your past review, mention it — and be sure to discuss what you’ve learned from it. Chances are good your manager knows you made a mistake, and bringing it up gives you the opportunity to provide more context to the situation. “It’s the perfect time to do so,” Culture Amp ’s Jackson said. 

Acknowledge Where You Can Improve

When you’re meeting with your manager, listen to what they say, both positive and negative. And be prepared for your manager to point out a few areas for improvement. This tension point is where career growth happens. “If you want something,” whether it’s a promotion or move to another department, “you need to know how to get there,” said Phillips. Just as people find it hard to brag, some find it hard to acknowledge their weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses, “you can make some personal choices as to how to potentially bolster those spaces.” 

Get a Second Opinion

Share a draft with a person you trust, whether it’s your partner or a colleague, advised Jackson. It’s a good way to have someone else weigh in, especially if you have difficulty bragging about yourself, she said. Plus, an extra set of eyes can help spot typos and grammatical errors. 

Self Evaluation Examples and Templates Answers

Still not sure what to do when you put pen to paper? Here are six open-ended questions from a sample self evaluation from the Society for Human Resource Management, as well as example answers you can use to prepare for your own self evaluation.

List your most significant accomplishments or contributions since last year. How do these achievements align with the goals/objectives outlined in your last review?

How to answer with positive results: In the past year, I successfully led our team in finishing [project A]. I was instrumental in finding solutions to several project challenges, among them [X, Y and Z]. When Tom left the company unexpectedly, I was able to cover his basic tasks until a replacement was hired, thus keeping our team on track to meet KPIs. 

I feel the above accomplishments demonstrate that I have taken more of a leadership role in our department, a move that we discussed during my last performance review.

How to answer with ways to improve: Although I didn’t meet all of my goals in the last year, I am working on improving this by changing my workflow and holding myself accountable. I am currently working to meet my goals by doing [X, Y and Z] and I plan to have [project A] completed by [steps here]. I believe that I will be able to correct my performance through these actionable steps. 

How to answer with positive results: Yes. I have established mentoring relationships with one of the younger members of our team, as well as with a more seasoned person in another department. I have also successfully taken over the monthly all-hands meeting in our team, trimming meeting time to 30 minutes from an hour and establishing clear agendas and expectations for each meeting. Again, I feel these align with my goal to become more of a leader.

How to answer with ways to improve: Since the last review period, I focused my efforts on improving my communication with our team, meeting my goals consistently and fostering relationships with leaders in other departments. Over the next six months, I plan on breaking out of my comfort zone by accomplishing [X, Y and Z]. 

How to answer with positive results: I launched the “No More Panicked Mondays” program to help on-site and remote colleagues make Mondays more productive. The initiative includes segmenting the day into 25-minute parts to answer emails, get caught up on direct messages, sketch out to-do lists and otherwise plan for the week ahead. NMPM also includes a 15-minute “Weekend Update” around lunch time, during which staff shares weekend activities. Attendance was slow at first but has picked up to nearly 90 percent participation. The result overall for the initiative is more of the team signs on to direct messages earlier in the day, on average 9:15 a.m. instead of the previous 10 a.m., and anecdotally, the team seems more enthusiastic about the week. I plan to conduct a survey later this month to get team input on how we can change up the initiative.

How to answer with ways to improve: Although I haven’t had the chance to lead any new initiatives since I got hired, I recently had an idea for [A] and wanted to run it by you. Do you think this would be beneficial to our team? I would love to take charge of a program like this. 

Describe your professional development activities since last year, such as offsite seminars/classes (specify if self-directed or required by your supervisor), onsite training, peer training, management coaching or mentoring, on-the-job experience, exposure to challenging projects, other—please describe.

How to answer with positive results: I completed a class on SEO best practices and shared what I learned from the seminar during a lunch-and-learn with my teammates. I took on a pro-bono website development project for a local nonprofit, which gave me a new look at website challenges for different types of organizations. I also, as mentioned above, started two new mentoring relationships.

How to answer with ways to improve: This is something I have been thinking about but would like a little guidance with. I would love to hear what others have done in the past to help me find my footing. I am eager to learn more about [A] and [B] and would like to hear your thoughts on which courses or seminars you might recommend. 

I feel I could do better at moving projects off my desk and on to the next person without overthinking them or sweating details that are not mine to sweat; in this regard I could trust my teammates more. I plan to enlist your help with this and ask for a weekly 15-minute one-on-one meeting to do so.

One is a promotion to senior project manager, which I plan to reach by continuing to show leadership skills on the team. Another is that I’d like to be seen as a real resource for the organization, and plan to volunteer for the committee to update the standards and practices handbook.  

More on Career Development How to Find the Right Mentor — and How to Be One

How Should Managers Approach Self Evaluations?

It’s clear here that self evaluations, as a type of performance review, are more employee- than manager-driven. That said, managers are a key ingredient in this process, and the way managers handle self evaluations determines much about how useful they are and how well employees respond to them.

To make sure they’re as effective as possible, consider these suggestions from Elisabeth Duncan, vice president of human resources and Adam Kanouse, chief technology officer at Evive , a provider of IT systems and platforms for HR teams.

Train Managers on How to Use Evaluations

“If you don’t, there’s no point in doing them, because the manager is going to be the one driving the conversations,” Duncan said. “Without training, the (evaluations) will be a checkbox and not meaningful.”

Don’t Use Ratings Formulaically

The results of self evaluations that employ a scale (say, one to five) can vary wildly, as one manager’s three is another manager’s five. Use the scale to identify and address discrepancies between the manager’s and employee’s answers, not to decide on raises or promotions across the company. 

Hold Self Evaluations Often

They work best as career-development tools if they’re held semi-annually, quarterly or even more often. “It’s about an ongoing, consistent conversation,” Duncan said. 

Tailor Them for Each Department

Competencies in sales very likely differ from competencies in tech, marketing and other departments. Competencies for junior-level employees probably differ wildly from those for senior managers. Self evaluations tailored to different employee populations will be more effective, and fairer. 

Stress that the Rating Is Just the Start

The rating or the open-ended questions are the beginning of the evaluation process; they are not the process itself. “These are tools to trigger a conversation,” Duncan said. 

Overall, think of self evaluations as a way to engage with your manager and your work in a way that furthers your career. Embrace the self evaluation, get good at writing them, and in no time at all, you’ll find they’re more productive — and definitely more fun — than scrubbing the office microwave.  

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Evaluation of My Self-esteem

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