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So it’s time for your annual performance review — more commonly known as: The Most Terrifying Day of the Year. But no matter how much you may be dreading sitting in front of your boss for the Moment of Truth, there is actually a lot you can personally gain from your end-of-year review. That is, if you treat it like a conversation rather than a lecture.
Rather than going into full-on panic mode worrying about what your boss may or may not say, just take a deep breath and relax instead — because you’ve got this!
1. Be Proactive
Don’t wait until the annual review to talk to your boss. It’s good to have weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings with your boss that are solely for the purpose of touching base and ensuring that you’re both staying on the same page. If you’ve never taken the time to ask your boss how you’re doing, then you’ll never have the chance to correct anything before it becomes a problem.
Ideally, if you have good communication with your boss throughout the year, your review will simply be touching on the accomplishments or failures from the previous year rather than the first (or only) chance your boss has to address an issue that you may have been completely unaware of.
2. Assess Yourself
Any information you gain from your end-of-year review shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Being honest with yourself and self-aware about the accomplishments (and failures) you’ve had throughout the year is the best way to approach this conversation with your boss. Not only will you be able to accept any shortcomings, but you will also be able to point out your achievements if you feel they are being overlooked.
3. Track Your Progress
Going through a self-assessment is a lot easier if you’ve been keeping a record of things as they happen throughout the year. Got a thank you note from a client? Keep it. Receive positive feedback from a co-worker about a project? Make a note. Gain new responsibilities? Update your job description. It’s easy to forget small things like this as they happen throughout the year, so make sure you’re creating ways to help yourself remember by the time your end-of-year review rolls around.
Not only will this help you to be realistic about your progress throughout the year, but this information and record-keeping can also be used as ammunition if necessary. If your end-of-year review is used to evaluate your eligibility for a raise, then you have to come armed and ready to fight for what you know you deserve. If your boss is someone who doesn’t interact with you on a regular basis, then he or she may not even be aware about some of the things you have accomplished throughout the year. Reminding them — and being able to provide solid proof — is never a bad idea.
4. Set Goals
End-of-year reviews aren’t just set up to discuss the past — they are also intended as an opportunity to share with your boss your goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. Taking the time to set some goals for yourself and being prepared to talk about them during your review lets your boss know you’re serious about the future of your career and that no matter how well the previous year has been, you are always willing to push yourself to be better.
5. Update Your Resume
This doesn’t necessarily have to do with acing your end-of-year review, but once you’re in the working world, it’s a good idea to take the time at least once a year to look over your resume (and LinkedIn profile) and make sure it’s up-to-date. Though you may not be in the market for a new job currently, updating your resume as you go is a lot easier than trying to think back and remember everything that has happened if you find yourself looking for a new job five years (or more) down the road.
Since you’re already taking the time to review the previous year, both on your own and with the help of your boss, this is a good opportunity to go ahead and translate your achievements to paper while they’re fresh on your mind.