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How to Take Charge of Your Annual Review

Updated on October 7, 2012

Take Charge

For a lot of people an annual review is the time when an executive calls you into their office, they sit on one side of the desk and you sit on the other, they talk at you for twenty minutes or so and then tell you whether or not you are getting a raise and how much. If they are a good manager they may discuss things like goals and objectives, performance and reward, etc. If they are not such a great manager, they will talk extemporaneously and your raise may be based purely on company economics.

Instead of letting your annual review just happen to you, why not take charge of it instead? Consider taking the following steps:

  1. Find out when your annual review will take place.
  2. When you know your review is imminent, send or give the person who will be reviewing you a list of your accomplishments from the past year.
  3. Prepare a presentation for your review.

It's All About Communication

Save The Date

Ask Management when your review will take place. Well run companies have a policy on when reviews happen, less well run companies may not. Managers at some companies don't like to give reviews at all. You, however, want to have a review because you want your raise to make sense. You want your hard work and your contribution to company success recognized, hopefully in a financial sense, but at least some verbal or written recognition of your performance.

Why do you want this? Because you spend several hours a day at your job. It takes up a lot of your life. Wouldn't you want it to mean something besides a paycheck? Well, no guarantees, bucko, but a great way to help make your job meaningful is to get Management to recognize that your contribution indeed is meaningful, is valuable, to the company. And the best way to make that kind of recognition is through your annual review.

If Management hedges about your review date, be pleasantly persistant. Send them a few emails a week. Mention it at the coffee machine. Or, combine Steps One and Two by sending Management a list of your accomplishments over the past year in order to spark interest. Then follow up by inquiring after your report.

"How did you like my personal assessment?"

You may get an impromptu review on the spot.

List Of Achievements

Knowing in advance that you are going to list your achievements for the past year is incentive in itself for you to go out and achieve. You are, in fact, self-incentivizing. Be sure and tell your boss.

Write you list of achievements well. Write it for your audience. The person who will give you your review is probably a very busy person. Be brief. Use bullets. Edit it down to one page.

Begin your list of achievements with an Executive Summary, just in case your manager or supervisor is too busy (or too attention deficient) to read one whole page. For the Executive Summary, boil down everything you talk about in your list of achievements into one short paragraph. Headline the paragraph, "Executive Summary". Next, create bullets and fill in between each one, and follow everything up with a brief conclusion. For example:

Annual Review: Patricia True
Prepared for Management
Date: 6-2-2009

  • Executive Summary
    This year I became more productive, implemented new procedures to enhance company efficiency and suggested cost cutting measures to management that were later implemented.
  • Improved Productivity
    Over the past year I was able to rearrange my personal life, enabling me to come in earlier and leave later. As a result, I became more productive, getting more work done at no additional cost to the company.
  • Implemented New Procedures
    In November, 2008, I redesigned the model delivery procedure so that fewer mistakes would be made. Since my new procedure has been implemented, mistakes have been virtually eliminated.
  • Cut Costs
    In February, 2009, I suggested to Management that if we eliminated paper coffee cups we could save over $400 per year. In March, 2009, I suggested to Management that the air conditioning could be set one degree lower, saving the company over $4,000 in annual energy costs.
  • Conclusion
    During the past year I have become more productive at no cost to the company and I have saved the company money by increasing efficiency and helping to cut costs.


Do not go empty-handed to your review. At the very least, bring your list of achievements. At best, create a presentation about how you will improve in the coming year and how you will improve the company.

Whatever you decide to present, it must be brief. To many managers, giving annual reviews is an odious task. Try to make it fun as well as informative. Use a little humor. Use graphics.

Your review can be an opportunity to impress Management and advance yourself in the company. All it takes is for you to make the effort to make it just that.

Of course, some managers are just plain mean, or just not interested in rewarding performance. Even so, preparing in this way for your review is an opportunity for personal growth. And, of course, it will help you assemble the material you need to sell yourself through your resume, cover letters and job interviews as you search for a job where they do, in fact, reward performance.


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    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      The same principals are applicable to the job interview, AIDY. Take control. Interview the interviewer. They will be impressed. Thank you very much.

    • profile image

      Am I dead, yet? 

      10 years ago

      I will definitely keep this bookmarked when I find the job I will retire from. Very useful information. A keeper!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Ray and Homes.

      Thanks Team Building. I think the last place one wants to be as an employee right now is under the radar .

    • Team Building profile image

      Team Building 

      10 years ago from Bedford, Texas

      Excellent advice for handling your annual review. In today's economy and with the unemployment rates as high as they are, you need to be proactive in your job.

    • homes88m profile image


      10 years ago from North Adams, MA

      great work

    • ray898 profile image


      10 years ago


    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      It would at that! Thanks, Earnest.

    • earnestshub profile image


      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A very useful hub Tom. I would think this advice would be good for managers to read!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      Great idea, Shibashake! Thank you.

      Oh no, Frieda! Did Mr. Shnicklepopper actually mention the socks?!?

      Hi Teresa! In my own situation the review process is pretty disorganized. It helps to come at it prepared.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      10 years ago from The Other Bangor

      This gave me dreadful memories of the full ring-binders we had to produce every year to justify our existence. Activities were divided into five categories, and outside evidence, publications, peer reviews, correspondence, programs, anything else you can think of, had to be presented. It was soul-destroying, because it took so much time to compile that it became ludicrous -- no one could ever read it all, anyway.

      But your suggestions and ideas here sound reasonable, do-able, and sensible. Wish my bosses had been as receptive to common sense.

    • profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      10 years ago

      Uh, Tom? Your annual review? Did you forget about it? I'll have to reschedule the meeting, but I'm afraid Mr. Shnicklepopper is NOT pleased. You may need to take your headphones off and take a look at your calendar. There under the socks, Tom. Really need to do something about those.

    • shibashake profile image


      10 years ago

      Really good tips Tom.

      One thing that really worked for me was to forward my boss good e-mails that I get from the other higher ups. I also saved all of those e-mails, and used them in my review.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      There's no shortage of lousy managers, Candie! Unfortunately I am a peon, so hiring is not up to me.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      10 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Great hub, great hints! I've had some lousy managers.. are you hiring? Lol, I will commute!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thank you Daweii and JJ for your excellent input!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Good hub! My annual review was 3 months late and finally when I got in there my boss says that there is a salary cap for my position. Ofcourse I haven't got to that point yet but he gave me a meesly raise. I found out that is how he is. CHEAP!

      we were all promised a certain amount of money after our review and now he changed it. LAME! What good advice for us. But I think with my case it would not have done any boss is an old goat set in his ways! =)

      GOOD HUB!!

    • dawei888 profile image


      10 years ago

      Hey Tom - Excellent hub about job reviews. My view is that these reviews are like mid-job interviews - kind of a chance to remind management why you're still a good fit for the job. Two things I'd strongly recommend: 1) If management makes a written report about the meeting try to get a copy of it and 2) While it's probably not kosher to record such a meeting on MP3 the employee should write down exactly what was said during the meeting right when it finishes while it's still fresh in her/his mind. This way if the employee ever has a dispute with management over questionable termination he or she can use these records to argue his case in court. Thanks. -Dawei888 :-)


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