When it comes to awards, recruitment companies are not only spoilt for choice in terms of the sheer number to choose from, but they are also faced with the pressure of writing the all-important winning submission.  And all this means that the team at BlueSky is frequently asked by clients and industry contacts to steer them in the right direction. So with this in mind, what are our top tips for entering awards?

Prepare

If there’s one thing that really irks me it’s when I get requests to write a submission for a company when the deadline is less than a week away…and believe me it happens more than you might think! Submissions take time and shouldn’t be rushed – you’ll not only be doing your company a disservice, but the judges can spot a last minute entry from a mile away, so there really is no point in entering if you haven’t prepared. A really good tip is to create a calendar of awards for the year ahead – that way you can pick the right award(s) for your business.

Less is more

I think there’s often a tendency to adopt a ‘spray and pray’ approach to award entries. In other words, agencies think that if they enter almost every one out there they’ll surely win one or more.  This is not a good strategy – instead, use your content calendar to choose awards that you have a good chance of winning and have the time to prepare for.  I’d much rather enter one or two well than five or six badly – wouldn’t you?

Choose wisely

In the same vein, once you have decided which ones to go for, think very carefully about what the best category is for you and your business. Depending on what particular awards you are entering, it’s likely that some will be far more crowded than others. If we look specifically at recruitment awards there are often very popular categories such as ‘agency of the year’, and ‘recruitment company of the year’ – and while this may be split by turnover levels they are always fiercely competitive categories. There may be others that you are more suited to so pay careful attention to the criteria of each category before deciding which to enter.

Answer the questions

Another big bugbear of mine is when I read an award submission and it bears no relation to the questions asked.  Take time to read (and re-read) the guidelines and ensure that every part of your submission addresses the question and doesn’t, as some entries still do, just state what your day job is. If, for example, you are entering an award for outstanding client service don’t simply explain how you source talent and shortlist individuals for interviews – what’s outstanding about your service levels? How do you go over and above what is required of you?

Don’t have a committee

I’ve worked on many awards over the years and something that is guaranteed to make a submission harder than it has to be is by involving a committee in every decision.  Now that’s not to say that multiple people won’t need to be involved along the way – for information gathering, for example –  but when it comes to writing, editing and agreeing the final copy it really is best to only involve one or two people.

Back everything up

When you’re writing your entry make sure you provide evidence to support everything you– you might know that something happened but the judges aren’t going to simply take your word for it. Quantify results and make use of the supporting documentation section of the entry that most awards offer.

Think format

Put yourself in the judges’ shoes – they have huge numbers of entries to go through and will want them to be as easy to read as possible. Consequently think about what format is going to make their job easier – bullet points and using bold type for key points, for example, will help them navigate the entry with ease.

Proof

It may sounds very obvious, but ensuring your award submission is error free is absolutely vital.  As I’ve mentioned before, judges are time short and submitting an entry that has typos or is grammatically incorrect won’t go down well. If a judge doesn’t think you’ve put in the effort to check your submission they won’t view it as credible – some may even refuse to mark it altogether – so ensure you check and get someone else to read it too.

Leverage success

If you’ve put huge efforts into entering an award and are lucky enough to be shortlisted, highly commended or win, make sure you don’t stop there!  Leverage your success through your PR and marketing programme.  There are numerous ways to do so – producing a press release for the trade or local press, writing a blog post on what makes you an award winning agency, and creating a video highlighting your own top tips for producing a winning award – are just a few examples.  So if you’ve been recognised – shout about it, after all you deserve it!

Being recognised for your company’s – or indeed your own – achievements can be a fantastic way to not only increase team morale and attract talent,  but it also offers a great chance to really look at your agency and see where there is room for improvement. By following our top tips you’ll be in an even better position when you come to putting together your next submission – good luck!

Guest Author: Stephanie King

Stephanie King helps deliver international PR & marcomms for the recruitment, HR and talent management sectors. Stephanie provides media relations campaigns, quality content and thought leadership material to BlueSky PR's ever expanding client base.

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