5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Annual Job Review

It's a simple equation: What you get out of your annual job review depends on what you put into your annual job review.

It's that time of year again: review season. While some creative professionals consider the annual job review to be a perfunctory chore to endure, others choose to view the performance evaluation as an important event worthy of significant thought and preparation. Guess which approach is better for your career?

Here are five tips for making the most of this yearly meeting with your manager:

1. Call attention to your most notable accomplishments. Your boss is busy, right? Don't automatically assume that he or she has kept track of all your achievements. Jog his or her memory by writing a list of key contributions you've made in the past year. This is your chance to sell yourself, so start making the list well in advance of your job review rather than hastily jotting down whatever comes to mind the day before your meeting.

2. Quantify your contributions. Don't just cite your successes; link them to the positive effects they've had on your department or company. For example, did you identify a workflow inefficiency and find a solution that saved your employer time, money or resources? Did you increase your output despite absorbing the duties of a colleague out on leave? Did you receive notes of praise from clients that underscore your value as an employee? Make the time to reflect upon your biggest accomplishments ­– and document them in detail.

3. Be optimistic yet realistic. You obviously hope that your hard work will lead to a sweet bonus and salary increase. It might. But don't go into the meeting focused solely on your compensation concerns. If a fatter paycheck isn't in the cards, remember that changes in your work arrangement or responsibilities can boost your job satisfaction too.

4. Explore training options. The annual job review provides an opportunity to pinpoint potential career paths with your supervisor's input. One way to get to the next level is through education. Consider asking if your employer will pay for you to pursue some additional training opportunities. Do your homework and have on hand a list of conferences or courses geared toward creatives that will help you build the skills you need to advance your career and do your job even more effectively.

5. Don't fear feedback. Rare is the employee who receives a perfect review. Be prepared to hear about areas in which you can improve. Upon receiving constructive criticism (even if it's a fair critique), some employees shut down and become dejected. Others bristle and get defensive. Those types of reactions won't help you. Be open. Expecting a less-than-glowing comment or two can take the sting out of them, allowing you to focus on your boss's broader assessment. 

Related post: Thanks for the Career Advice, Boss