Very recently, I was asked to be a judge at an awards ceremony for the hospitality industry. I was delighted and honoured to be part of the judging panel amongst other industry experts.
What I learned is that filing an award application is not everyone's strength, and they can be an injustice to the actual applicant. 90% of the written applications we received were well below average. In some cases, the answers did not match the questions, or the explanation that was given was not factual, or the answer was just simply too short.
Thankfully, at this particular awards, we were allowed to shortlist several applicants and interview them face to face. To be honest, I went into the interviews with low expectations, based on the applications we had received. But when I met the candidates, they blew my mind! Every single person had achieved a lot more than what their written applications reflected and had I not met them face to face during the interview stage; most of them would not have been successful.
So why is it that we can not build ourselves up on paper?
An award application needs to do exactly that, build you up, not mark you down. An award application is the right place to boast and explain all those things you have achieved that you are proud of. Maybe it is an Irish thing? Where we don't like highlighting the positives in case, we think we sound cocky, and we rather play it down. Don't do this to yourself! If you can't boast on this type of platform, you will never be in a position to win.
Tips for award applications
- Make sure the right person is dealing with the application, not a colleague, or a member of the team, but the person in charge of that award category at your business.
- Ensure time is dedicated to the written application. You might think you do great things, but unless you take the time to explain that on paper, the judges will never know.
- Read all questions carefully, answer what you have been asked on each question carefully and ensure it makes sense.
- When you have answered all questions, go over the application again and give them even more information than what they asked for.
- Be factual, state facts with numbers, percentages, key milestones and benchmarks. Without data, your answer is just words.
- Adhere to the word limit and other rules.
- Be passionate, be bold, and always give them more than what they asked for.
You might be saying to yourself, 'oh sure, those applications take a long time', and yes they can do. But the time you can dedicate to enter awards, is time well spent.
Benefits of winning awards
Winning awards can be of massive benefit to your business!
- They put you in front of the media. If you release a press release afterwards, you might even get your name in the papers or radio more than once.
- They can boost your team's morale. Awards usually are not won by one person; there is usually a team behind them. Acknowledging the team's efforts by entering and winning awards will make them want it even more.
- They can be a team bonding experience. If you are shortlisted for an award and there is a ceremony taking place, try and take with you as many team members as you can, the night will help you all feel much closer, and therefore work better in the future.
- If you win, shout it from the rooftops! Your website, social media, hang the award in your reception/lobby area, let your customers know how great you are.
- Local community engagement. Believe it or not, receiving an award can also boost the way your neighbours view your business - especially if you are based in a rural area. You must assume most local people do not know much about you, but if they see your business recognised at a national level, they will start taking more of an interest in what you do.
I personally LOVE awards. I have entered them for years now, some for me, some for my team, some for places I have worked on and some for clients. You could say I am an award addict, really! Now, as I approach the big 40 in my life, I have been asked to judge the younger generations, what a blast!
So my advice to you today is, ENTER AWARDS! Have a look at your business, pinpoint what areas you or your team excel at, even if you don't think you are the best, it all depends on the competition! And of course, submit a great written application.
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