How to Use the Year-End Review Process to Your Greatest Advantage

Four ACS Career Consultants share proven methods to get the credit you deserve
Industry Matters Newsletter
Martins Oderinde, Principal Scientist, Bristol-Meyers Squibb
Martins Oderinde, Principal Scientist, Bristol-Meyers Squibb

"Positive feedback from colleagues should be sought and shared with your manager."

  • You are your #1 advocate; do not simply assume that your hard work is noticed and will be rewarded appropriately. Begin with a fair reflection and self-assessment for the year. 
  • Positive feedback from colleagues should be sought and shared with your manager.  
  • Succinctly highlight those high-impact contributions that you made in the year, such as how you provided a novel solution to a critical problem that helped a program; how you reduced synthetic steps and saved cost; how you made a process more effective and greener; how you made a timely no-go decision; how your timely delivery on a program helped the management/leadership team make strategic decisions; or the new technology and innovation that you introduced and their impact on programs. State how you helped your colleagues as a subject matter expert to solve their problems. Highlight your internal and external collaborations, presentations, recognitions, awards, and publications. It would help if you mentioned your mentorship activities and the significant achievements of your mentees and team.
  • If you believe you should be promoted to a new role/level, explain how you have already been performing at that role/level. 
  • Identify mutual growth opportunities for yourself and your organization.
  • Finally, expect negative feedback. Negative feedback presents growth opportunities and should always be appreciated. Avoid being defensive, do not point fingers, and show that you are willing to take necessary actions to improve and grow. Set up a structure to self-monitor progress and growth.

Joseph Moore, Industrial Market Sales Specialist, Bruker BioSpin
Joseph Moore, Industrial Market Sales Specialist, Bruker BioSpin

" ... Jot down small and large wins as they happen."

Be diligent about tracking your successes throughout the year. Keep a document easily accessible on your computer where you can jot down small and large wins as they happen. This makes writing your performance review much simpler, and you can focus your brainpower on communicating the impact of your accomplishments.

Lori Ana Valentín, Forensic Scientist, New York State Police
Lori Ana Valentín, Forensic Scientist, New York State Police

"Documentation, documentation, documentation! "

Prepare throughout the year for your year-end review by saving and compiling documentation of your accomplishments. Make lists and charts of the targets you met and solutions you devised. And be sure to include language about how that contributed to your organization's mission. Save any positive feedback you receive from clients, coworkers, and collaborators. Don't be shy about asking them to share their positive words with your boss!  

Then practice, practice, practice! Work on your confidence by practicing how you will deliver this information during the year-end review. You can try practicing in front of a mirror or recording yourself.  

Jeff Ares, ACS Career Consultant
Jeff Ares, ACS Career Consultant

"Update your achievements against the work plan as they occur."

I recommend taking the following steps throughout the year to help advocate for yourself in year-end reviews:  

  •  At the start of the year: With your manager, establish a clear, actionable work plan for the year. Be sure your work plan focuses on key business needs and is well-defined and stretching, yet achievable.
  • Throughout the year: Update your achievements against the work plan as they occur. Do not delay this documentation since important details may be lost over time. Review progress at least quarterly with your manager for his/her perspective and to ensure that these work plan elements remain priorities in a changing business environment. Update the work plan if needed.
  • Prior to the review: Document your achievements formally. Many organizations have standard templates. If not, be sure your written summary is succinct (I recommend bullet points), uses action verbs to communicate your contributions, and articulates how these achievements drive business results. Share with your manager ahead of the review.
  • During the review: The structure of these reviews can vary. Be prepared to discuss your major achievements, how you accomplished them, and how they drive the business - essentially continuing the discussions that have occurred all year.  

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

ACS Career Consultants are experts and leaders working in the field of chemistry who have volunteered to support other ACS members’ career development through one-on-one career counselling. They can stimulate your thinking, ask important career planning questions to help clarify goals, provide encouragement, teach strategies for making meaningful career decisions, and aid you in your job search. Connect with an ACS Career Consultant today!

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