Nailing Your First Review

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Every organization works on a different timeline, but at most employers, you’ll have a performance review sometime within the first year after you start. It might come after 30 days, 90 days, half a year, or on your one-year anniversary, but no matter when it comes, it will give both you and your supervisor an opportunity to sit down and discuss how things are going. For the most part, the success of your review will depend on the work you do leading up to it, but the way you act during the review itself can also impact your standing in your new job, including, in some cases, your pay.

In order to nail your review, you’ll need to customize your actions during it to the expectations of your employer. Some employers will expect you to prepare remarks on your own performance or complete another type of self-evaluation. Others will provide you with their comments ahead of time so that you can respond to them. Either way, do what’s asked of you and prepare for the review.

One of the most important parts of nailing your review is putting together a solid list of your accomplishments. Write down projects you’ve completed and goals you’ve met, much as you would if you were preparing to add them to your resume. Even if you never give that list to your employer, having it in the back of your mind will allow you to present yourself in a positive light. If you do plan to give the list to your employer, take the time to lay it out clearly and present it professionally, as you would a formal report.

In some cases, your supervisor, who will typically be responsible for your review, may not take an active role in giving you good feedback. If that happens, be prepared to take the lead yourself. Create a list of things you want to talk about and make sure you get through it all. If you can, consider scheduling periodic meetings throughout the year so that nothing in your review surprises you. And no matter what happens, aim for an open and honest discussion of what you’re doing well and how you can improve.

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