An effective resume needs more than an education and experience section. To stand out from the competition, you must show hiring managers your history of excellent performance.
But creating an eye-catching resume isn’t an easy process. And attracting attention is challenging when other job seekers often hold similar education and work experience.
When you’re brainstorming things to put on a resume, don’t rule out non-traditional additions. If you performed well in school or a previous role, consider leveraging your achievements in the job application process. It’s a great way to show a track record of success and hard work when you don’t have a lot of professional experience to fall back on.
Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking to land your first role or a seasoned professional navigating a career change, don’t shy away from celebrating your accomplishments. Let’s explore how to integrate these milestones in your application package and honors and awards resume examples for inspiration.
What’s the honors and awards section of your resume?
The honors and awards section is a resume component designated for past successes. Here, you can list achievements that pertain to the job description of the role you’re applying for. This might include your college GPA, an industry award, or a scholarship you received for higher education.
Past successes show recruiters how well you perform academically and professionally. If you’re a recent graduate, proof of your academic excellence can compensate for your lack of experience and prove you’re a top contender for the role.
3 reasons to list honors and awards on your resume
Being selected for a job interview for a competitive role can be difficult, whether the position is entry-level, junior, or senior. Here’s why listing honors and awards on an academic resume is beneficial for any role:
Make your resume stand out
Many job seekers only list their responsibilities during their past roles and forget to show proof of their achievements. Don’t save discussing your accomplishments for the job interview — instead, use your awards and achievements to demonstrate your ability to excel.
Compensate for a lack of experience
If you’re a recent graduate with limited work history or have career gaps, listing school awards and academic achievements can compensate for your lack of experience. Achievements show recruiters that despite any holes in your resume, others have commended you for your skills and knowledge.
Highlight your value
Although the previous job titles and education highlight your qualifications, achievements demonstrate your soft skills. Accreditation given by others validates the strengths of your basic professional skillset in any role and highlights your value to potential employers.
3 types of awards to put on your resume
The type of awards you should include on your resume depends on the role you’re applying for. If you’re tossing your hat in the ring for a management position, you want to list awards that display your leadership and communication skills. If you’re applying for a technical assistant job, you should choose achievements that illustrate your industry-specific knowledge and capabilities.
Here are three types of awards and examples of each you can adapt for your resume:
Academic awards display your commitment and the quality of your work. They illustrate your ambition to surpass what’s required and compete with the best of your peers. They may include:
Professional honors range from internal company awards to industry-wide achievements. These awards show you’re an asset in a work environment and the industry at large. Professional awards may include:
You may have received awards for leadership and dedication if you’ve worked for the military. Although your service may feel unrelated to the position you’re applying for, you’ve likely gained transferable skills that will impress a hiring manager. Possible honors include:
Military academy awards
Where to put honors and awards on a resume
When determining the placement of awards and achievements on your resume, consider what you’d like to accomplish. If the section includes widely recognized achievements you want to put a spotlight on, consider placing it near the top of your resume, before work experience. If the section is small or niche, you may choose to put it toward the bottom of the page.
Aside from the location, you can list accomplishments on your resume in two ways:
Creating a separate honors and awards section: Use a separate awards section on your resume if you have three or more notable distinctions. A specific section for achievements calls attention to your performance and gives you space to list awards that fall outside the scope of your education or previous jobs, such as community or volunteer distinctions.
Distributing honors and awards across your resume: If you have less than three distinctions, you may decide to mix the awards among relevant experiences. For example, if an award relates to an educational experience, you can list the achievement under the institution in the “Education” section of your resume.
5 tips for adding honors and awards to your resume
Take additional steps to make each distinction more informative to the recruiter. Use these five pointers to make your honors and awards sound impressive and credible when building your resume:
1. Mention the purpose of the award
Describing the purpose of the award adds context for those who are unfamiliar with the distinction. It also emphasizes the specific attributes that contributed to you earning the award.
For example: “Earned Excellence in Engineering Award 2020 for leading a team of four engineers in developing the best-performing robot.”
This description states the name of the award and spells out the skills in leadership and engineering skills that earned the prize.
2. Only choose the most significant awards
More isn’t always better. Mentioning minor awards can detract from the importance of your significant ones. When determining which honors you should list, consider whether they pertain to the particular role you’re applying for by displaying relevant skills.
If you’re unsure of the significance of your awards, you can distribute them throughout your resume instead of placing them in their own section.
3. Include the date the distinction was granted
You should always add the date you earned an award or achievement. The date makes the award appear relevant and shows employers that your skillset is up-to-date.
4. Use measured achievements
Quantified achievements impress hiring managers. When possible, clarify the value and time frame of your accomplishment.
For example: “Increased company sales by 10% in 6 months.”
Numbers make achievements easier to visualize and your claims more credible.
5. Show your consistency
Showing that you’re a consistent high-performer is imperative on a professional resume. Awards that are time sensitive, such as repeated “Employee of the Month” distinctions or appearances on the Dean’s list, show you’re persistent.
On the other hand, if you’ve only received these distinctions once or twice, they may make your performance appear inconsistent. Make sure to include awards that prove your ability to do well long-term.
4 examples of awards and achievements on a resume
Adding honors to your resume doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. Use the following examples as inspiration when creating your next resume:
Example 1: awards section
Write out each distinction in an ordered list under a separate awards section. To make the honors a focal point of your resume, use concise bullet points.
How to format awards
- Excellence in Leadership Award 2022 from XYZ organization
- Top Sales Award 2020 at XYZ company
- Employee of the Month Award at XYZ company, January 2018
Example 2: awards and achievements combined
To draw attention to both your awards and quantifiable achievements, create a section for both. Use a similar format for each bullet point so the section remains visually cohesive and easy to read.
How to format awards and achievements
- Drove a 20% increase in sales revenue in 12 months at XYZ company
- Best Resolution Award, Model United Nations, 2018
- Dean’s list and GPA 4.0, Harvard University, 2017
Example 3: education with awards
If you have less than three achievements and adequate work experience, it’s reasonable to list awards within your “Education” section. Including your college awards and honor examples on your resume with your credentials communicates your expertise and education all at once.
How to format awards with education:
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA — Bachelor of Arts, Classics
GPA 3.7, Dean’s List
Example 4: awards with experience
Similar to the education example, you can list awards and achievements in your job experience section. This saves space when you have a lot of work experience.
How to format awards with experience
Sales Associate at XYZ company
Employee of the Month January, February, and March 2020
Land your next big role
In competitive job markets, listing examples of honors and awards on your resume is a simple but effective way to stand out from the crowd. Remember to weigh the significance of your achievements and only include those relevant to the role you’re applying for. With a concise and competitive list, you’ll be fielding interview requests in no time.