Why professional praise matters

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Particularly if you use it strategically, the various forms of positive professional feedback you receive may help you accelerate your advancement and boost your salary. Here’s why:

Outstanding evaluations may help you land promotions. Some federal job applications require submission of annual evaluations. So, the better your evaluation, the bigger boost it will give your application.

But even if you’re applying for jobs that don’t require evaluations, brandish your outstanding evaluation anyway to strengthen your case. How? By uploading it to your application as an optional document and by including it in the success portfolio you bring to interviews.

Also, state in your cover letter and/or resume that you consistently receive outstanding evaluations, or that you “received an outstanding evaluation in 2014.”

If your evaluations, an award or praising emails from a manager include glowing comments, quote excerpts of them in your resume, writing something like:

“Sample praise from my agency’s executives: Joe is a vital asset… His contributions are multi-faceted…regularly goes the extra mile…always provides executives with insightful advice…an excellent team member.”

Your evaluations may impact your salary. Feds on the General Schedule system usually receive within grade step increase (WGIs) at regular intervals. However, a fed’s WGI will usually be blocked if he does not receive at least a “fully successful” or the equivalent rating on his most recent evaluation.

A quality step increase (QSI) is a faster than normal WGI awarded to a high producer. But to be eligible for a QSI, a fed must receive the highest possible rating on his annual review. Also, the size of a fed’s annual bonuses is usually proportional to his annual rating.

Outstanding evaluations may strengthen your job security. If you’re a new fed on probation, a positive evaluation signals that you’re on the right track — although even an outstanding evaluation will unfortunately not guarantee your ultimate probationary success.

If you’re not a new hire, a positive evaluation suggests that you’re valued by your boss, and so indicates that you probably won’t be forced into an unwanted detail assignment — a fate that all too frequently befalls undervalued feds.

Also, in the unlikely event that your organization undergoes reductions in force, a record of favorable annual evaluations is an important factor that can help protect your job.

Another reason to strive for high ratings is to avoid sliding down the slippery slope of minimally satisfactory or unsatisfactory ratings, which would likely jeopardize your job.

If you don’t receive a positive evaluation, take heart: Not all federal applications require submission of an applicant’s latest evaluation.

Suppose you recently received an egregiously unfair evaluation while you’re applying for new jobs that require submission of your latest evaluation. Under such circumstances, you may submit your previous evaluation while you challenge the newer evaluation. If you land a new job in another agency, none of your previous evaluations will follow you in the HR materials that are sent to a new agency.

Meanwhile, maintain an updated success file. Why? Because your success file, which would be virtually impossible to reconstruct in hindsight, will help you generate the achievements list you will submit to your boss before he writes your annual evaluation or when you request a promotion. It also helps you update your resume with your latest achievements and accolades when you job hunt, and provides vital evidence of your success that will, if necessary, help you challenge an unfair annual evaluation.

Lily Whiteman is a federal communications expert and author of “How to Land a Top-paying Federal Job,” and a trainer of career advancement skills and communication skills. Her website is IGotTheJob.net. Ask your career questions by email to lwhiteman@federaltimes.com or by Twitter to @Lilymwhiteman. View her blog at blogs.federaltimes.com/ federal-careers.

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Lily Whiteman is a federal communications expert and author of “How to Land a Top-paying Federal Job,” and a trainer of career advancement skills and communication skills. Her website is IGotTheJob.net. Ask your career questions by email to lwhiteman@federaltimes.com or by Twitter to @Lilymwhiteman.

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