Seven top tips for award applications

Putting your name forward for an industry award is a lot like applying for a job. The effort you put in to it shows and the same principles apply – address the criteria, don’t have any spelling mistakes and make sure you are telling a good story.

With a view to helping those of you who are considering whether they should enter this year’s RCSA Awards, we have put together our top seven tips for how to complete and submit your awards application.

1. Make sure you qualify

Have a close look at the selection criteria before you start your application. Do you actually meet ALL the criteria set down to be eligible for a particular award?

Aspirational applications may be good for your self-esteem, but otherwise they are a waste of your time and that of judges. If you are not sure if you meet the criteria, run the idea past a trusted peer to see if they agree.

If you do not meet the criteria for a particular award, look for other awards where you are eligible. Or, make a note of what steps you need to take to be eligible to apply for the award next year.

2. Stick to the criteria

We cannot stress this enough – read the criteria for the award and stick to it. If you want your application to stand out, don’t let it be for the wrong reasons such as telling a great story which has nothing to do with the awards criteria.

When an industry body sets awards criteria, it is not done haphazardly. The criteria has been set for a reason. If the judges are to judge your application against others, you will have no chance if you have gleefully disregarded the criteria which is clearly stated.

3. Check you grammar and spelling

This is where you need to follow your own advice to jobseekers. How many times have you stressed to candidates the importance of clean applications, resumes and cover letters with no spelling or grammatical mistakes?

The same applies to those entering industry awards. Award applications riddled with spelling errors are treated in the same way job applications with the same errors would be; the content of the application is lost behind the mistakes and the application is immediately discounted.

4. Stick to word limits

If the application criteria asks you to answer a question in 250 words or less, do not exceed that limit.

Judges are looking at a lot of applications and those which ignore the rules by including too much information will be binned. It’s that simple.

5. Answer EVERY question

Some applicants may be tempted to gloss or skip over sections or questions they don’t feel they are particularly strong on, or which they feel is repetitive of other questions.

If you are asked to answer a question, do it. If you are asked to answer three questions, answer three questions. If you cannot follow the rules of the application process, your application will not be considered.

6. Give yourself plenty of time

There are very few people who produce their best work under pressure. Unless you are one of them, we suggest not leaving your application until the last minute.

If you are taking the time to submit an application, surely it is worth taking your time to give it your best shot.

A rushed application is likely to show, have spelling and grammatical errors in it and, worse still, may mean you miss addressing specific criteria. If you need to, take a Sunday afternoon with a glass of wine (just the one!) and dedicate a chunk of time to the process.

7. Tell your story and make it good

Again, in much the same way you tell candidates to present themselves well at an interview and to be clear in their answers, you need to make sure your award application is telling a story in a clear, well-presented way.

Stick to the point and what is relevant for the application. Unless your holiday in Aruba is somehow relevant, don’t mention it in your application.

Put yourself forward in the best way possible. Focus on what you do well, be honest, be humble.

To see the full criteria for this year’s RCSA awards, click here and good luck.

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