Performance review season is right around the corner, so it’s a good time to plan ahead for the information you’re about to receive. Proactively leveraging your annual performance review information to plan for the coming year can help you move your career more effectively toward your future goals.

Here’s how to use your performance review to build your career plan:

Before Your Performance Review

Before this year’s performance review, look at your review from the previous year. Collect examples of projects you’ve completed or tasks you’ve performed that demonstrate you are applying your strengths and working on your weaknesses.

Then, think about your next career goal. For instance, if you intend to earn a promotion before the end of the year, review what the new job demands. If you’d like to step into a specialist or other lateral position, consider what that job entails as well. Then, look at what you’ve achieved in the past year and how those accomplishments might help you make your case for your next move.

During Your Performance Review

Arrive prepared to your annual performance review with copies of your previous review and samples of your achievements in the past year, if available. This information will help you and your manager contextualize your work and provide a clearer view of your abilities.

Also, don’t hesitate to create a list of questions for your manager. For instance, if you’d like a specific project or position, consider asking what you need to do in order to be the ideal candidate for that work. Ask for advice on concrete steps to take to address any weaknesses raised in your review.

After Your Performance Review

After your performance review, take a look at the new information. Create a list of specific goals you’ll work toward in the coming year, whether to improve on certain weaknesses or to position yourself for your next career step.

Finally, don’t hesitate to seek support if you need it. For instance, a staffing firm can help you explore comparable jobs and companies, put your performance review in context, and choose a career path that fits your skills and abilities.

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