Ditch Annual Reviews. Rewrite Your Job Description.

When I worked in corporate America, I hated getting a review. I think the worst part was that I always went in with so much optimism. I enjoyed getting a lot done and working hard regardless of the job description. When the review season came, I would get the hope that bonuses and promotions were coming. Somebody would notice all of my hard work, and I would move up in the organization. 

Instead, they ended with disappointment. It felt like everyone got promoted, except me. I didn’t understand what I wasn’t doing to reach that next level.

The worst part? I had to sit in a room awkwardly with my manager in silence. She had no issue with quiet. I didn’t need that when I was already second-guessing myself.

I don’t think I can recall one annual review where I walked out thinking, “wow, I know what to do, and that was so helpful.” Instead, I’ve gone into most of these scenarios able to distinguish precisely who said what about me, who gave the harshest feedback, and which responses were politically motivated for promotions. 

Rather than finishing the year on a high note, I spent the rest of the quarter paranoid and a little pissed off. It wasn’t worth my time. What always made annual review time worse? They hit at the busiest time of the year. We all saw them as more work stopping us from hitting goals and earning bonuses. 

Switching It Up: The Annual Job Description Rewrite

I’ve taken out my frustrations on assessments before, but I’m revisiting the topic because this year isn’t like every other year. Everyone has seen a lot of change at work. If you get a lot of joy out of predicting or feeling safe and routine, it’s not a good time for an assessment.

That’s why I’d like to suggest something a little more productive. Instead of harassment by email automation, why don’t we all write ourselves a more accurate job description? We can go back to the drawing board to talk about expectations, skills, learning opportunities, and growth opportunities. 

Rewriting your job description is a great place to do that. Start with my hiring manager intake and answer the questions as if you were hiring another you. Use recording software or your phone to take notes verbatim. 

Then, organize that transcript into categories of work. What are you doing right now that reflects those skills? Tell the story of your work and set goals. Also, include a section called “nice to have.” Build a plan for growth opportunities.

Have your team present their job to each other in a team meeting. I’m confident you’ll discover new things people forget they even do. Keep these descriptions on file for your next review cycle so you can reflect on how this person has worked toward their goals.

Voila. Already more useful than your last review cycle sitting in a digital filing cabinet with dust bytes. 

If you need a how to, you know I wrote the book on this, right?

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Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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