Follow this step-by-step guide to write a self-assessment

Written by
Bola Sokunbi

Apr 17, 2020

Apr 17, 2020 • by Bola Sokunbi

It’s performance review time — and you’ve been asked to come prepared with a self-assessment. But, if you’re worried that the information you provide might be used against you in the future, how do decide what should (and shouldn’t) be included?   

The key is to treat your self-assessment as an exercise in self-discovery. By completing it, you’ll learn more about how you view yourself, how your co-workers view you, where you’re doing a great job, and where you could do better. Read on for your step-by-step guide.  

What a self-assessment is

A self-assessment is a record you create of your performance that you will review with your manager. It will serve as a roadmap for you to track your progress toward growth in your career, a promotion, and the overall trajectory of your career.

To really nail the self-assessment, you’ll want it to be as accurate and honest as possible. For example, showcasing only your wins will come across as insincere. But, being transparent regarding both wins and losses (in a thoughtful way), will let your manager know that you truly care about your growth as an employee.

As much as you want to shine in your self-assessment, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to be honest. At the end of the day, we’re all human and there’s no faking being perfect at your job. It just isn’t true.

Why companies ask for self- assessments

The first and most direct reason your company would have you put together a self-assessment is for your own growth. Your manager will want a channel to get feedback from you to help you track your progress toward your career goals. It’s a helpful touchpoint to have, as it gives both you and your manager focused discussion points to go over.

Additionally, your organization’s human resources (HR) department will use the self-assessment.   HR doesn’t get to interact and engage with you on a day-to-day basis, so the self-assessment helps them understand what you are looking to accomplish professionally. This will help them (and you) to ensure you are properly positioned for your career growth.  HR teams review self-assessments to help them know how you’re tracking against your performance goals and to note any red flags that could come up.

How to write a self-assessment

The good thing is that most companies will give you a template, so you’re not starting from scratch.

If you don’t have a template, you can start by answering some of the prompts below:

  • What have you worked on that you’re most proud of? What about the projects makes you proud?
  • What did you learn while working on those tasks?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently?
  • What’s coming up in the near future that you’re most excited about?
  • Have you received all the support you needed to succeed from your manager? If not, what could be done differently going forward?
  • During the past period under review, have you received feedback from your manager and team? Was this consistent with your own take on the situation?
  • How did you collaborate with others on your team or in different teams? Did you find that your contributions made an impact?
  • What areas do you want to work on in the coming months?
  • What additional feedback are you looking to get?

Think through these questions and make a cheat sheet with responses. It will make a huge difference to walk into a performance review with some thoughtful responses to questions versus winging the meeting.  Typically, an employer will provide a structured self-assessment form or portal with specific questions or categories for you to complete your assessment.

However, if you don’t have one, you can break your assessment into sections using the questions highlighted above. Keep your paragraphs short, straight to the point and easy to read.

You might not remember what exactly you did as it relates to certain projects months in advance, especially if a lot of details were involved or it was a fast-paced project. If you need a refresher, look through emails, to-do lists, calendar invites, meeting agendas, and other notes for details you can include to support the story you have to tell.  

Additional information to consider including

Although the document you’re creating is called a “self-assessment,” it often has little to do with you.

In many jobs, people work as part of a team. So while it’s not mandatory, it’s a good idea to ask your teammates for feedback. Were you a good team player? What could you do more of? What should you do less of? Ask about the skillset they see you bringing to the table, your communication style, and what training you could benefit from.

This can be helpful in highlighting your accomplishment, strong skillsets and area of improvement not just in your self-assessment but for yourself and can be a great to include within the relevant sections of your assessment. Alternatively, in the “additional information” section of a self-assessment

You’ll also want to build on your last review. Have you made positive progress toward what was discussed in your last review? To jog your memory, look through your last performance appraisal.

Take note of the action items from it, and address those in your self-assessment.

About the Author

Bola is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI), finance expert, author, speaker, and founder of Clever Girl Finance, a financial education platform and community for women empowering them to achieve financial wellness and live life on their own terms. Clever Girl Finance is one of the largest personal finance platforms for women in the U.S. In addition, Bola and Clever Girl Finance have been featured by several media outlets including, Money Magazine, CNBC, Forbes, Fast Company, Essence, Black Enterprise, Cheddar TV, ABC News, Good Morning America, Fox Business and The Chicago Tribune as well as on several other finance websites and podcasts.


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