Knowing how to write your own performance review is a valuable career skill that needs to be in your toolbox.

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[caption id=”attachment_18860″ align=”alignright” width=”300″](Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)[/caption]A recent episode of “Mad Men” featured Peggy going to Don for her annual performance review. She had just been told to write her own, but she didn’t want to do that. She wanted a “real” review, from a superior.

It wasn’t surprising that this move didn’t go well for Peggy (or for Don). What was surprising was that writing your own performance review was already a workplace reality so long ago.

Certainly, it’s very common today, as well as a lot harder that it might seem. Here are some tips to writing your own review or self-assessment:

Don’t be too modest. Find a way to list all your successes — some of which your superiors may not even be aware of — with clarity and precision. Also, be tactful. You don’t need to make someone else look bad to make yourself look good.

Use facts and figures. That list of your triumphs will have significantly more impact if you cite actual data and anecdotes to back up your claims. How much money did your office reorganization save? How many more new clients did you sign on? Did you save the day by working overtime when a key player became ill? You get the picture — show, don’t tell.

Look to the future. Don’t make your performance review all about the past. Set goals and specify how you plan to achieve them. This is actually a great place to own up to any setbacks you may have experienced. Acknowledge them and state how you intend to improve your performance.

Put yourself in your boss’ shoes. We naturally think that our performance reviews are all about us. But when your boss reads your review, he or she is not thinking about you, per se, but more in terms of how you and your performance affect the company. Try to present your accomplishments — and especially, your goals — from that perspective.

Finally, take your time. Expect to write more than one draft. Have your mentor (What? You don’t have a mentor? Now’s a good time to find one) take a look at it. Make sure it is as articulate as you can make it, and absolutely clean — no typos, no grammatical errors and no fuzzy logic.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at