As human beings, we are wired to respond to positive reinforcement, and what’s better than being honoured with an award? Awards exist to highlight the achievements of our best and our brightest and winning one can be a life-altering moment that can catapult your career to the next level. However, we increasingly find that entrants are hesitant about applying, whether due to the hassle involved in the application process, the entry fee, or simply believing that their projects aren’t good enough. Here’s why we think the benefits in applying to an awards program far outweigh the costs.
Recognition feels good.
You’ve toiled over your project for a long time, and you’re proud of what you’ve achieved. A little part of you thinks, “I would give myself an award for that.” What’s stopping you from applying, then? Achievements make you feel good, and being in the running for that award or prize you’ve always dreamt about starts with submitting an application. It almost sounds counterintuitive, but today’s dynamic and hypercompetitive awards environment is an advantage to the applicant — because it also means that there are that many different awards opportunities out there to be seized. Success awaits the applicant who is sensible enough to seek out the right opportunities at the right time, but also who is dog-headed enough to never take no for an answer the first, second, third or fifty-second time.
It’s a priceless networking tool.
Certain awards out there can catapult your personal brand to the next level. Some refer to these programs as “resume simplifiers” because the title stays with your name long after you’ve actually won the award. It’s what we in the awards industry also call “third-party credibility.” Winning a prestigious award also means unprecedented access to a long list of alumni members who will always be willing to lend a hand and offer invitations to events with a guest list studded with connections. On top of that are the benefits that come with winning the award itself: winning one award often puts the winner on the path to winning another similarly prestigious award. Not only will the connections you make through the program help build your confidence, the award itself will also serve to open many doors throughout the course of your career.
It helps you hire good talent.
If you’re an agency or a company that has recently been honored with an award, it represents a massive recruiting advantage by attracting the talent you want for your company. Job seekers pay attention to the fine print when it comes to looking to join a new firm, so having them see those little badges of honour below your email signature can serve to impress. Also, eager job seekers and recent graduates will be looking at industry news websites and magazines, which often highlight industry award winners. It’s not fluff when they say the entry fee for an awards program pays for itself — it all pays into the pipeline by attracting a bigger client base, providing a dopamine boost to your current staff, and getting your name out there to industry talents who might want to come on board and further feed into your company’s success.
There’s always an awards program out there for you.
There are two different schools of thought to approach an awards application – or any application at all. Some people argue that the “just apply” approach doesn’t really work — in fact, you should save your effort for the awards where you really hit all the criteria. Others argue that it’s better to try and carpet the field, especially given that more and more organizations are introducing new awards programs. However, once in a while, there will be an award program out there that serves exactly to honour achievements like yours. Say you’re an association professional working to meet the needs of those exposed to hurricane-related disasters. Enter the Power of A Awards, an awards program by ASAE which seeks to highlight the amazing work of association executives in meeting important needs of our wider American and global society. It’s all about finding the exact award to apply for, and sometimes, the right one comes a-knockin’.
It’s the journey that matters.
You’ve done all the hard work — cleaned up your portfolio, tightened up your CV, collected all the recommendation letters. Everything is in one neat application form and you click submit. You wait a couple of weeks in anxious anticipation, and boom — that email you’ve been waiting for from the awards committee is at the top of your inbox. You pace back and forth a little bit before deciding to open it.
“Thank you for your interest in XYZ Awards 2019. Unfortunately, your submission has not been moved to the next round. Keep your head up — we encourage you to consider applying for the next round which will open in.…”
Rejections are disheartening. However, the steps you have taken to apply to that program — regardless of its outcome — end up paying dividends in the long term. The time you spent putting together that application is time spent on professional self-assessment — time you otherwise would not have spent poring over your goals and achievements. It can be a career-aligning experience, making sure that you understand your narrative as to where your professional goals are. Reaching out to former bosses or senior colleagues for nominations or recommendations can assure you of their support in your future endeavours, and it also gives you an opportunity to receive constructive feedback about your work. An award is better than no award, but sometimes, the journey itself is worth the entry fee.
Have we convinced you yet? When it comes down to it, it’s about how much you believe you are prepared and the willingness to put yourself out there. In the end, all it takes is the guts to believe you can win it, a bit of elbow grease to get the work done to complete the application, and a little bit of heart in pressing the “send” button — and that’s all there is to it.
About the author
David Lincoln is an associate brand manager with OpenWater. He works to build awareness of the OpenWater platform within the association industry, and to make sure that OpenWater follows industry trends and demands.
CSAE Honours & Awards recognize the best and brightest in Canada’s association and not-for-profit sector. Applications for this year are open till July 19, 2019.