The Dos & Don’ts for Your Awards Section in Your Resume

You’ve likely spent years playing sports, doing community service, earning good grades, or going above and beyond at school to line your bookshelves with trophies and your walls with awards. As a high schooler, your motivation may have been to help yourself get into college—as an adult, it’s likely to impress prospective hiring managers.

So, now that you’ve done the work to earn those extraordinary accolades, you may be wondering how best to make employers aware of them without seeming like a showoff. Lucky for you, we’ve got some tips!

Including an Awards section in your resume is the best way to showcase your biggest achievements. Here’s how to do it right:

Provide background information with each award.

Along with mentioning your earned awards, you’ll also want to give a quick explanation as to what each award means. Put them into context, and when possible, briefly explain how or why you earned each one.

You may also want to say just a couple of words about the organization that presented the awards, if that information isn’t obvious.

Make sure your awards section is prominent, but not the focus of your resume.

No matter how proud you are of your achievements—and you should be proud—they shouldn’t necessarily be your main “selling point.” We’re not saying you should subtly throw in some information about the awards you’ve earned. We’re just saying they shouldn’t be the focus of your resume.

Your resume should tell your story, and your accomplishments are part of that. So, you may want to consider including your Awards section right under your Experience section, which is the resume section that should be the focus of your resume.

Keep formatting consistent.

Another way to not make this section the main focus is to keep it consistent in terms of formatting. It shouldn’t be a larger font or a brighter color.

If you’re using bullet points throughout your resume, then use them in your Awards section as well. If you’re writing narratives in paragraph form, then use that format in your Awards section.

Again, you should be proud of these accomplishments, but you don’t want to paint yourself as a showoff! (And if you need some additional guidance on the subject of formatting, check out our resume samples and examples).

Separate your professional awards from your personal awards.

A resume needs to be easy to consume and that means having it broken down into sections. Your Awards section will be easier for your reader to scan if your resume is broken down into components based on professional and personal achievements.

Don’t go too deep into your past.

It was probably neat to win the Most Outstanding 3rd Grader Award as an eight-year-old kid, but it doesn’t really need to be included in your awards section on your resume.

As a 20-something job seeker, it’s best to just stick with awards from high school on up. As a more seasoned professional, you should only include career-related awards.

As a rule of thumb for this section, and the rest of your resume, you should only include relevant information that shows who you are as a person, and why you’d be a great employee.

Don’t use too much technical industry jargon in your awards section.

Your Awards section descriptions need to be helpful, but not loaded with terminology that the hiring manager may not understand. If you have a group of awards from a professional organization you belong to, then you’ll want to keep the professional lingo to a minimum.

Describe each award in the Awards section in your resume in the same way you would describe them to someone who had no idea what you were talking about. Just remember to keep your descriptions short.

Don’t worry if you don’t have many impressive awards.

Don’t have many awards? Don’t fret! Awards are of course a great way to stand out, but this isn’t something you should stress over. If you really want an impressive awards section but don’t have any under your belt, then go out and earn them!

Don’t lie.

Never lie to the employer about awards, or anything else! It almost never ends well, and if you get caught, which is very possible, you could not only ruin your chances with the company, but within your entire industry.

Remember: if you make up awards in your Awards section, it may come back to haunt you. An Awards section needs to be an accurate account of your lifetime accomplishments.

Your Awards Section Can Be A Great Conversation Starter

Having an Awards section in your resume can really help you stand out and give you an edge in your interviews.