8 essential tips to creating a winning award application

With the glamorous movie industry award season upon us, we’re joining the buzz of the glitzy ceremonies by adding our own little twist.

Not only is it the Hollywood elite hoping for recognition for their hard work, but we want employers in the East of England to also seek out awards that’ll boost their profile. A bit of media coverage always helps – whether you’re the amazing Cate Blanchett or a local cupcake baker. The

But before you start indulging in the fantasy of working your way to the stage in your tuxedo or oscar style frock to collect your award, let’s go back to the beginning. Let’s look at how you can win the award in the first place!

1.    Read criteria and eligibility guidelines

Before putting in any work into the application make sure your organisation is actually eligible. Check the rules for geographic restrictions, size of workforce, turnover or form of organisation (e.g. social enterprise, profit-making or charity). Also, think about cherry-picking aspects of your business that meet the award’s criteria. So you have a strong sustainability policy? Do you have a highly successful employee engagement strategy, which is reaping fantastic results?

 2.    Check the small print

As with many competitions worthy of winning, there are rules to obey! Take the time to read every word so you don’t complete an application only to have it disqualified immediately. Find out if you can enter more than one category. And, importantly, note the submission deadline. Mark it in big red letters on your wall planner, in your private diary and in colleagues’ diaries if they’re involved. Miss the deadline even by one hour and you could be left bitterly disappointed.

 3.    Find out who the judges are

Researching the judging panel could help you plan your application. For example, including case studies of projects that are of more interest to middle managers when the judges are director level, you probably won’t do yourself any favours. Show them something new or show off your innovation. Whatever you do, blow their socks off with a relevant application that is aimed at senior decision-makers.

 4.    Understand the scoring system

Do you know how the awards will be scored? Will you be scored highly on areas that you feel may be your weaker points? If so, is it worth applying this year? By looking at the scoring you can plan your application strategically and pull out areas of your work that are appropriate to the highest scoring sections.

 5.    Ask questions

Some award programmes offer webinars or videos to help applicants with the process. Alternatively, give the organisers a call to go through your questions. It’s always better to make sure you have everything straight before you even so much as fill out your name on the application form. 

6.    Write inspired words

Completing award applications can be a bit of a time-consuming exercise, but don’t let your language reflect your fatigue! Remember, the judges are likely to be busy professionals who are looking for applications that grab their attention immediately. Although some of the text may need to be a little dry (to describe services or functions for instance), you can still make your narrative engaging. Aim to build excitement through your writing – include the best results, key customer benefits, favourite testimonials and use words that have an impact (but don’t go over board since you’re not writing the awards speech – yet!).

 7.    Always be truthful

You can talk about being the best in your field, but stick to the facts. Don’t exaggerate or be dishonest; if you get the award your customers are likely read about why you won. If they recognise misleading information you can bet they’ll either question you, leave you or, even worse, tell the world about it via their social media networks.

 8.    Proofread your application

Get someone else to give the application a final proof before you submit it. Especially if you’ve left it until the last minute and it’s been a bit of a rushed job (it happens!). If you want the application to reflect your organisation’s excellence in your application, typos and bad grammar will drag down the quality and undermine your chance of being shortlisted.

As a quick, final summary: choose your awards and categories carefully, plan your approach and put effort into it. If you’ve done a good job, you’ll soon be dusting off that black-tie outfit and practising your Oscar-worthy smile for the cameras. Good luck – we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you!

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Written by

Lynn Walters

Lynn is a founding Director of Pure and leads Pure Executive. She has over 25 years’ experience recruiting for executive appointments, and helps east of England-based businesses with senior management and board-level recruitment. Lynn also leads our Best Employers Eastern Region initiative and Women’s Leadership Programme, both of which help companies and people develop.

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