Does winning an award boost your career?

Ask yourself these 7 questions before putting in for a career award.

Seven key questions to ask before entering.

We all like to be recognised for our achievements.

The 2014 INTHEBLACK Young Business Leaders list celebrates those making a mark in business at an early age. There is definite kudos in being named as part of this high-achieving group.

Some awards have global renown and recognise the peak of achievement – think Nobel Prizes or Academy Awards. But as a business professional, what is the true value of winning an award in your field and what should you do to put yourself out there for consideration?

Here are 7 key questions to ask.

Who is the awarding body?

The more well-known and reputable the awarding body in the relevant field, the more value the award will bring to your CV or your LinkedIn profile.

What is the calibre of the judging panel?

Most awards will be selected by a panel and the more recognisable and relevant these experts, the more value others will ascribe to your win.

In some circumstances you may have the opportunity to meet with or present to the judges and potentially make a direct impression and new business connections. Any specific feedback from a judging panel may also contain valuable insights and information.

Who is the competition?

Consider whether this is company you aspire to keep and if you would be pleased to be mentioned as peers with the other nominees or winners. Will you have the opportunity to meet with the other, potentially like-minded, participants?

How is the award publicised?

How well known are the awards themselves and how will they be promoted? While sharing the award with your own networks may be appropriate, the further the reach and readership of the awards, the greater the potential impact on your professional reputation.

How do I win?

Some awards will be open for nominations, while others may be by selection only. If there is a call for nominations then it’s relatively easy to bring yourself to the attention of the judges – or at least to the attention of those who will filter numerous submissions before the big-name judges see a shortlist. (It is kind of like television talent shows in this regard – far more people are likely to audition off-camera than to make it in front of the judges.)

If you cannot nominate yourself but can be nominated, then think carefully about who you want to nominate you, as your nominator may also lend credibility (so don’t ask your mum).

Other awards don’t offer a nominations path – they will be selected by an expert panel. In this case it is obviously harder to put yourself forward. This requires a longer game to build profile and reputation.

In essence, it is the same as being head hunted for a role versus responding to an application. The more senior roles are often filled via search and the more prestigious awards tend to work the same way. But there is a selection process for each and either way you need to make the grade to be successful.

What do judges look for?

For awards that focus on work outputs – such as the effectiveness of a marketing campaign or the quality of a project – there are clear criteria available and submissions should address these.

For awards that are more individual, such as ”young business leaders”, the criteria may be less obvious, and the professional judgement of the panel comes to bear. Remember that who you are – your values, your passion – can matter alongside what you do – your achievements. How well rounded ayou are, and how you contribute or give back to your profession or community, is also relevant.

Activities or achievements that differentiate you or make you stand out among other professionals will be noticed – such as speaking engagements, publications or thought leadership –  and your profile within your field.

These will help to bring you to the attention of selection panels as well, if you aren’t able to directly nominate for an award. These activities are also an end in themselves – whether they contribute to a formal award or not, they will all help to build your profile, reputation and expertise in the professional arenas that matter to you.

Will awards help your career?

From an employer perspective, Liz Malady, general manager of people and culture at CPA Australia, believes that the achievement of an award “can make a CV stand out where the award is relevant to the role and is from a reputable, professional organisation”.

It will not make up for your skills and experience, though. According to Malady: "A candidate’s CV is assessed on their experience and education foremost and the achievement of an award will reinforce the capability and performance of the individual - and this will create additional interest.”

Awards are one ingredient of a bigger recipe.– Rose Filippone, Filmont Recruitment

As a recruiter, Rose Filippone, of Melbourne firm Filmont Recruitment, believes that "if you have an award on your resume, it will stand out”.

“I would always read the resume and call the candidate to discuss their resume. During this conversation the award will be questioned along with other factors. You need an edge in this market as it’s competitive.”

However, while an award may bring you to the initial attention of a recruiter it is only one factor. In addition to the relevant skills and experience for a role, ”an award doesn’t mean that culturally you are aligned to what that client is looking for”, says Filippone. "Awards are one ingredient of a bigger recipe so all the other components must be right for the cake to rise.”

Whether or not it influences the careers of our 20 Young Business Leaders, they should all enjoy the public acknowledgement of their success. 

Lisa Carroll is Executive General Manager, Communications, Content and Publishing at CPA Australia. She has been involved in the annual Young Business Leaders list since its inception in 2012.

Read next: INTHEBLACK's 2014 Young Business Leaders list

March 2020
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