10 top tips for creating a winning awards entry

2016 guest host Gaby Roslin takes a photo of SAB Miller's winning team

The entry deadline for the 2017 Personnel Today Awards is Friday 9 June, so the sooner you send in your entries, the better. Here are 10 tips on what to include, and what to leave out, to maximise your chances of success.

1. Keep it simple

Be clear and specific. Ensure your entry is easy to explain concisely, give some background and outline your objectives and strategy. Give specific examples – facts, not fluff – and avoid jargon.

2. A clear format

Structure your entry. For example, say what the issue was, what you did and what the outcome was. Be consistent, logical and tell a story. Creating a narrative can help keep the judges’ attention.

3. Answer the question

For example, if you are entering the award for excellence in HR through technology, telling the judges what systems you have invested in is great, but they will also want to see the impact this has had on the business. Make sure you check the criteria for the category.

If you’re entering HR Team or L&D Team of the Year, make sure you explain how the team made a difference, how they worked together and why it was their talent that was critical to the success. Tell the judges what was different about your project and how you addressed the unique needs of your organisation – give a sense of what was innovative, creative or different about your approach.

4. Evidence

Provide solid evidence against the criteria. Spell it out – avoid vague generalisations. To give your entry the best possible chance include HR measures such as employee turnover or cost of employee absence, as well as business measures, such as customer service or profitability. Can you prove a causal link? Has absence dropped because of your wellbeing initiative or is it due to lower job security in uncertain economic times?

5. Stick to the word count

Judges have many entries to review, so keeping your entry within the word limit will work in your favour. Don’t include too much extra literature – make sure any supporting documents are relevant, not just included for the sake of bulking out your entry. The message will come across far more clearly if you can describe the project with energy and passion in a few short words than if you submit huge amounts of generic supporting material that is unlikely to be read.

6. Keep timescales in mind

If you are still in the middle of an initiative, make sure you can demonstrate some results, rather than simply speculating what the impact might be in the future. Preference will be given to completed actions rather than prospective results.

7. The business case

Try to relate your HR initiative to the requirements of the business – how did it support the business and what was the return on investment? Tell the judges what business problem you were trying to resolve and how your solution helped in commercial terms. Show how the initiative was done by HR for the business, not for HR.

8. Be passionate

Ask someone objective to read your entry. If they are not impressed, our judges won’t be either. Tell them why you are passionate about your project and why they should care about it. If your project has saved money, what is that money worth to your organisation? Provide context so the judges can understand the scale of what you have achieved.

9. Proof read your entries

Make sure your entry has been carefully read by at least one other person not directly involved in compiling it before you send it in. Spelling mistakes and typos can ruin an otherwise sound entry. You’ll be surprised how many judges have bemoaned entries that are simply confusing and complex.

10. Start early

Give yourself plenty of time to put together a really solid entry. Don’t leave it too late and be forced to rush something – start now. Don’t assume that the awards deadline will be extended by one week; it’s something we often do, but not always.

More detail on how to enter can be found here.

With thanks to previous Personnel Today Awards judges Nick Holley, Alan Boroughs, Stephen Moir, Peter Reilly, Mark Wilcox, Charles Cotton and Ron Eldridge for their suggestions.

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