Personnel Today Awards: 10 top tips on writing a winning entry

Last year's overall winners Magnox

The entry deadline for the 2013 Personnel Today Awards is Friday 14 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.

3. Answer the question

For example, if you are entering the Innovation in Recruitment category, a list of what you are doing is fine, but make sure you explain why this was innovative. If you’re entering HR 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 Health at Work initiative or is it because of increased job insecurity during 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 put in 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.

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.

Go to the Personnel Today Awards 2013 page for full details on how to enter.

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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