Tips on writing self-reviews from Women in Tech’s panel

If you're still working on your annual self-review, you're in good company. I'm still putting the finishing touches on mine, and I have list of requests for coworker feedback that I'm also chiseling down on. With deadline looming, I thought I would share some advice from Yahoo! leaders about the process.

Last week, Women in Tech gathered a panel to talk about the process, offer tips about how to write an effective self-review, and share what the review process really accomplishes. We were grateful to host the following esteemed speakers:

  • John Matheny – SVP, Media & Commerce Engineering
  • Rusty Berg – VP, Service Engineering - Platform & Data Services
  • Alison Hu – Talent & Organization Development

Here are some highlights from the meeting, for inspiration. You can also keep them in mind in our next round of self-reviews, in Q1. Enjoy!

How much time should you spend on your self-review?

Our panelists agreed that no matter what else you might have on your plate, your self-review is important. Plan to spend at least an hour on it.

However, John Matheny pointed out that the annual review is just part of an ongoing self-review/feedback process. Throughout the year, document what you're doing and accomplishing, because you're not going to clearly remember everything that happened 6 months before.

What if you haven't had the same manager all year?

If your manager wasn't your manager all year, be sure to do a good job documenting your performance under previous managers in particular. Your current manager may not have the complete context of what you've done.

How impactful is your annual self-review, really, in determining promotions, compensation increases, rewards?

A well-written review doesn't make or break it, when it comes to promotions and other rewards -- it's one piece of the whole picture. Your manager already has a good idea of what your contributions have been, how you've been doing, and where your performance fits in with the rest of the team. You are your best advocate, though, so think about what projects and accomplishments you'd like your managers to thinking about in evaluating your performance. Be sure to highlight not just what you've accomplished, but why it matters -- how did your work contribute to the success of the company?

Think about your review as something that could be used an elevator pitch for you, in a management meeting where all people in the room may not know you. By arming your manager with a succinct summary of your accomplishments, your review can make a small difference in the final outcome of the review process.