Many employees think of the performance review as a time to passively receive their boss’s opinion of their worth. If that’s your view, you may be missing a valuable opportunity. Instead, look at the performance appraisal as a chance for an in-depth discussion about your work and career. Capitalizing on this opportunity requires advance planning, so use the following steps to prepare for a useful talk with your manager.

Watch this video for some tips for making the most of your next evaluation:

1.   Honestly evaluate the past year

An annual review should be just that – a look back at the previous year.  So you need to consider all the successes, problems, and challenges that occurred during the past twelve months.  We naturally tend to interpret circumstances in our favor, so try to be objective.  Denying obvious problems will just make you appear self-serving and biased.

Also, avoid nasty surprises during your performance review by seeking feedback all year long. Don’t assume that no news is good news when it comes to how you’re doing at work. Schedule a few minutes periodically to check in with your boss. Give her a status report and ask if you’re working in the right direction. Use the feedback as a guide to address shortcomings and build on successes.

2.   Embrace criticism and use it to improve.

Even if you are dutiful about getting feedback throughout the year, chances are you’re still going to hear some criticism during your performance evaluation. Open your mind to criticism. Don’t be defensive. Don’t dismiss it out of hand – use it to improve.

3.   Be ready to prove your worth

Before your employee review, put together a summary of goals you met and accomplishments you made over the past year (likely you’ll need this info for a self-evaluation, as well). These are concrete examples of your worth to the company. The point is to show that you have exceeded expectations – gone above and beyond — rather than just satisfactorily completed your required job tasks.

4.   Show that you have grown

Be prepared to show how you have addressed weak spots brought to your attention during performance reviews past. Show that you respond to criticism and improve. If, for instance, your boss last year told you that that you haven’t demonstrated leadership skills, then provide some examples of how you’ve successfully taken on leadership roles since then.

5.   Have a plan for the future

A performance evaluation is a great opportunity to take part in developing your role in a company. Come prepared with a list of goals you can pursue and skills you’d like to develop over the next year. If you’ve faced legitimate challenges in meeting some performance expectations, be honest about it and have a plan for how you can meet expectations in the future (such as more training in a specific area).

6.   Decide whether to discuss pay concerns

If you feel you deserve a salary increase, you need to determine the best time to ask.  In many organizations, pay decisions are made before the performance review discussion, so you might want to make your request prior to review time.

If you would like to get some help with your career challenges, please answer a few questions at to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Margaret Buj is an Interview Coach who’s helped hundreds of professionals across Europe and the US to get the jobs and promotions they really wanted. Margaret also has 9 years of experience recruiting for a variety of positions at all levels across Europe and in the US, primarily in technology and e-commerce sectors. If you want to find out how recruiters read resumes, why you are not getting hired, how to sell yourself successfully in a job interview, and how to negotiate your best salary yet, you can download her FREE “You’re HIRED!” video course.



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