Writing a self-appraisal for your annual performance review requires a careful and introspective look at your job performance for the previous year, examination of your skills related to the essential functions of your job, and an understanding of your employer's performance appraisal system. Employers and employees benefit from employee self-appraisals. Self-appraisals lend themselves to open dialogue between employees and their managers about job performance and introduce objectivity to the appraisal process.

Review your job description, any personal documents--such as congratulatory letters, commendations and awards related to your performance--as well as previous performance appraisals. If this is your first year with the organisation, review your performance appraisal from your previous job to look at your transferrable skills and what you bring to your current employer. Write down your strengths and areas where you might need improvement. Compare your list of strengths and weaknesses to your written job description.

List each of your job duties and responsibilities, leaving space between each one to write about your performance in every area. As objectively as possible, describe your performance for each job duty and responsibility. Use this opportunity to express confidence in your abilities and your contributions to the company. Don't simply state that you think you're doing a good job--describe the level of your performance, the steps you take to accomplish your tasks and how you attain high levels of performance standards. Conversely, if you believe you need development in certain areas, explain why, how and what type of training would benefit your performance.

Look at your calendar for help in including all your accomplishments for the previous year. It's sometimes hard to recall what you did 11 months ago, but if you maintain a personal and professional calendar, it's easy to construct a list of achievements throughout the year. Compose your self-appraisal as though you are updating your resume. The difference is you're not trying to get an interview, you are qualifying your skills with definitive statements. Use wording such as: "Reduced legal costs by 15 per cent in third quarter; utilised previously acquired knowledge in legal services field to review overstated attorney's fees."

Draft a statement about your short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals may include learning a new type of technology; long-term goals could include finishing a degree or gaining certification in your field. Be specific about what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them. Develop what are called SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive. The University of Maine System gives the following advice to supervisors whose employees must identify goals: "The number of goals is not nearly as important as their quality. Two or three well thought out, specific goals that will have a positive impact on the employee and department can form a strong, appropriate performance plan."