4 Tips to Write a Promotion-Worthy Self-Review


This is a 2-part blog:

  • Part A: 4 Tips to Write a Promotion-Worthy Self-Review (templates included)

  • Part B: How to Write a Thoughtful Employee Review (to be published at a later date)

Part A is a 5-minute read. Below is a summary of items discussed.


  • To write an impressive self-review, share your accomplishments and areas of opportunity in a story sequence that highlights the specific actions you took, the results you achieved, the impact you had on the organization, and the skills you developed throughout the process.

  • Use this Self-Review Template to help you write your self-review.

I like to see the self-review as a free pass to professionally brag about the contributions you made to the company and how you added value to the business. This is not a time to be modest about all the sweat and tears you put into your work, instead, it should be an opportunity to proudly share the incredible results you produced. I mean, who else is going to vouch for you besides your mom?

While you’re writing about your accomplishments, you’ll also need to be honest about 2-3 areas for continuous learning and improvement. You can discuss projects where you fell short or emphasize skills you’d like to develop to produce more favorable results for your organization.

In this blog, I’ll share with you four actions you can take to make your self-review more impressive. To supplement the reading, I’ve also created a template you can use to jumpstart your process, including where to gather all the data for your self-review.


1. Tell a series of short stories.

I've had the chance to review hundreds of self-reviews in my experience, and unfortunately, too many do not do the employee justice. The most ineffective reviews are the ones that only share a list of accomplishments. Even if you share a remarkable set of achievements, the longer the list does not necessarily mean the more valuable the employee.

Look at the goals you set forth for this past review cycle, and tell a series of 3-5 short stories that spotlight your significant achievements or areas of opportunity connected to the business goals and objectives. Writing in a story format is a great way to show your perspective on the rigorous process it took to achieve your goals--this helps remind your manager of your effort and contributions that they may otherwise have forgotten. You should be able to paraphrase your value to your manager within 4-7 sentences for each story.

  • For each accomplishment, share the problem or project you had to overcome, the actions you took to resolve it, the results you've achieved, and the impact you made for everyone around you. Focus on the value you add to the company.

  • For each area of opportunity, share the area you’d like to improve, actions you plan to take to produce more favorable results, why it’s important to develop this skill, and any lessons learned throughout the process. Focus on your growth and development and how you will continue to add value in the future.

2. Highlight your growth via skills you developed.

Most skills are transferable. When you emphasize a skill you developed, you illustrate your growth potential, making it easier for your manager to consider you for future projects or roles that require those transferable skills. Whereas if you only mention projects you've completed, there may not be another time you’ll work on that project again (but there will be plenty of opportunities when you’ll use the skills you developed in that project). In other words, the project lifecycle ends when you've completed it, but the skills lifecycle carries on to future projects.

Note: When your manager and HR are considering you for a promotion or raise, they’re measuring the skills you possess in addition to the projects you’ve completed.

Ask yourself: “What am I able to do today that I wasn’t able to do last year? How have my interpersonal, technical, business or functional skills improved?’ or ‘What skills would I like to improve?’

Example: This year I excelled in my project management skills while working on the Netsuite integration.

3. Provide specific, actionable examples.

With any story, supporting facts are needed to paint a picture and help the reader understand the information. In your self-review, you want to provide examples of specific actions you took to help reach your accomplishment, or things you can do differently to obtain a better result.

Ask yourself: ‘What observable actions did I take to help me achieve my goal?’ or ‘What can I do moving forward to produce more favorable results?’

Example: I was able to help our company meet the July 1st go-live date by ensuring all parties did their share of the project. Anytime we were running behind schedule, I called, emailed, or pinged stakeholders to remind them of the deadlines and their role in the overall success of the project. I also facilitated check-in meetings to update everyone on the project status and obtained feedback to better the process.


4. Show your impact.

This is your chance to illustrate that you are an asset. Think about the impact your contributions have made or will make on the team, department or company, and use quantifiable facts with supporting qualitative evidence to portray your value.

Ask yourself:
“How did I make the experience for my colleagues or customers more positive? Did I support company growth, increase revenue or help acquire more customers? Did I reduce expenses, save time or make the process more efficient for those around me?’ or ‘How will I be able to add value in the future?’

Example: With the successful, timely implementation of Netsuite, we are able to increase our data integrity with a better system and workflow for everyone involved, and no longer will have to cross-reference multiple spreadsheets for the most accurate data (which is very time-consuming and frustrating for the team). We also helped the company save a projected $50,000 in additional consultation fees. These savings will allow us to redirect our focus on the technical training essential to helping us build out our video strategy next year.

Ready to try it out?

For those of you who just received a reminder email from HR to complete your self-review pronto, I’ve created a couple of templates to help you get started.

Examples of Weak and Strong Self-Reviews - I find it can be helpful when you see a comparison of what good and bad look like.

Self-Review Template - I sometimes get writer's block so find it helpful to write down my thoughts when specific questions are asked to me. When you’re ready to write your review, use this template to guide you through a step-by-step self-review process.

Good luck! For more support, contact us at hello@feedlearning.com.

Happy learning!

Founder, Feed Learning