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8 Steps to Ace Your Annual Review

8 Steps to Ace Your Annual Review

Sara Gallagher | Ms. Career Girl

I’m always surprised when I hear that a recent college graduate has failed to earn a raise at her first annual review. Getting a raise after your first year on the job should be easy. After all, as an entry-level employee, you’re not yet earning a substantial salary; raising it shouldn’t put an undue financial burden on your employer.

Additionally, your learning curve the first year on the job is extraordinarily high. By the time you sit down with your boss for your first review, you will probably have learned many skills you didn’t know the day you interviewed.

Nonetheless, some supervisors are just tough negotiators – and in this economy, budgets are tight and competition is fierce. Here is an action plan to help you succeed where others have failed:

Learn to manage projects.

You probably won’t be managing many people during your first year on the job, but you will be managing tasks and projects. In my experience, the hardest thing to learn as a newbie career woman is how to get started. Fresh out of college, I found myself waiting for my boss to give me assignments. I didn’t understand yet that in many companies, the only assignment you’re ever going to get is your job description. While some supervisors will give you things to work on here and there, you’re responsible for meeting the objectives of your position whether or not your boss gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do so. The great thing about project management is that unlike “people management,” the results of projects are easier to quantify and communicate on a self-evaluation.

Don’t press your luck.

Gen Y has a reputation for self-entitlement and assertive office behavior. Understand that you have a lot to learn, and be careful about suggesting too many changes. Ideas show you have energy and initiative, but constant, unsolicited criticism of your company’s current systems and policies can sever important working relationships. Remember, getting a raise during your first annual review is easy–but so is getting canned before you get the chance to argue your case.

Next Page: Document your success →

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    almost 4 years ago


    I'm going in for my review next week but my whole office has already been told that we aren't receiving any raises this year. I appreciate the advice, nonetheless, especially about not disclosing negative opinions about how things are run at my company. That was good advice.

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    This was great stuff. I compiled it all to go into my review this month and it looks good and sound.

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