As part of my job, I review many resumes every day, and this one mistake always gets me.

Many people receive awards, get into selective programs, and do other impressive things, but fail to convey the full magnitude of impact.

Since they don’t show the competition, they don’t reveal how many people were vying for the same spot & that they cut past all that to emerge as a winner.

Another common resume error is just listing the awards and recognition without showing why they received it.

Robert Cialdini believes social proof is one of the most powerful principles of influence. Showing your competition emphasizes how coveted your accomplishments are. You succeeded where others failed. As a result of giving full context, you protect yourself in case the recruiter hasn’t heard of your program, award, or honor, which most likely they haven’t and won’t bother looking up.

Here are some best practices:

📌Create a separate section called Awards and Recognition.

📌Incorporated into relevant professional experiences.

📌Use bullet points for readability, ATS compliance and impact

📌Quantify your reasons/achievements for receiving the award.

📌Customise to include only relevant to the target role details.

📌Showcase industry-specific awards and specify awards relevant to your industry.

📌Highlight any leadership recognition in your academic/professional journey.

📌Include the number of participants and the competitive achievements.

📌Be sure to include academic honors and extracurricular activities.


Weak: Won XYZ University’s Innovation Competition

Strong: Won $1,000 for XYZ University Innovation Competition against 80+ entrepreneurs, for showcasing XYZ Project that saved XYZ.

❎Weak: Won the Project Management Excellence Award at XYZ company.

✅Strong: Completed a $1M project on time, winning the Project Management Excellence Award in a cluster of over 50 projects.

To highlight your achievements and highlight your unique strengths, strategically place your awards and recognition throughout your resume. Ensure your resume is clear, concise, and focused on your qualifications based on the specific job you’re applying for.

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