Proving Yourself for the Performance Review

It’s performance review season! For many of us, this can be a stress-inducing experience, but really those key performance reviews can serve as a huge opportunity for growth and development.

Last year, I walked into my supervisor’s office holding my breath. I’d been told repeatedly that information on my performance review would “not be news to me,” but that still didn’t wash away the lingering stress. I sat down in the chair across the desk from my supervisor and she started with, “I actually had to change your performance review score from ‘meets expectations’ to ‘exceeds expectations’. I had forgotten about everything you did this year!”

Until that moment, I thought the self-evaluation my employer required was annoying and monotonous.  But as it turned out, the act of reviewing my own achievements over the course of the year served as a tool to advocate for myself even before my performance review began!.

Here’s how to prepare for your performance review #likeaboss:


  • Ask to perform a self-evaluation.

If your employer does not require one, you can ask your supervisor if you can complete one. A performance review is a great time to have a two-sided conversation about how you can improve your performance. Completing and sharing your own self-evaluation is an excellent way to start the conversation. Even just having a copy of the document you are reviewed with can help you ensure you’re meeting your marks.

  • Complete your self-evaluation early.

Completing your self-evaluation early in the performance review process is important. If you are going to send the document to your supervisor, you want them to have received it before they complete your evaluation. This makes it easier for them to review your work, while also giving them direction on what you want to focus on.

  • Think critically prior to completion.

A self-evaluation isn’t a document you’ll be able to complete in a half hour. The self-evaluation can be a way to open the conversation to discussing a raise, a promotion, or professional development opportunities. Start your process by completing a brain dump of everything you’ve done since your last evaluation. After your initial brain dump, start to sort these project or tasks out chronologically and fill in the gaps between them. Highlight the things you want included in your review. When you start writing and scoring yourself, keep this list close by.

  • Use tangible examples.

You can tell your supervisor about how excellent you are all you want, but if they don’t remember the things that made your performance excellent it doesn’t really matter. Use examples in your self-evaluation that remind them of that fantastic project you completed, the cost reduction measures you created, or the efficiency improvements you made. Pull specific data that supports your case and be sure to include numbers that show improvements you created.

  • Provide direction on what skills you want to develop.

If you feel like your performance is weak in a particular area of the review, don’t hide it. This is your chance to show your self-awareness and ask for help. Write out an action plan for how you would like to develop these skills further. You don’t have to say you’re incompetent in an area if you aren’t, but acknowledge your weaknesses so your supervisor can support your growth. Be sure to keep your impostor syndrome in check during this part of the self-evaluation. It’s likely you’ll be more critical of yourself than a supervisor might be.

The review process is an excellent time to advocate for your next raise or promotion if you prepare right. Starting with a self-evaluation gives you the chance to advocate for yourself before the review even takes place and your supervisor has made up their mind on what you deserve.

Are self-evaluations part of your office’s performance review process or do you plan to ask for one in the future? Tell me in the comments below!


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  1. Africa Jackson says:

    Excellent piece. Certainly reflected my experiences in the corporate world.


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