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Should You Include Honors and Awards in Your Resume?

Most conventional, standard resumes contain subheadings for education, skills, and relevant work history. But what about awards and special honors? If your proudest career moments or academic accomplishments include life-changing accolades, grants, blue ribbons, or competitive victories, how can you work these items onto the page in a way that makes organizational sense? Believe it or not, almost every job applicant in the world has faced this conundrum at least once.

Here are a few ways to move forward without missing opportunities or leaving your proudest moments out of your profile. If you think you'll need a helping hand getting honors and awards added to your resume, put our professional Resume Builder to work (and get help with all other resume sections, too).

Adding a new section

There's nothing wrong with simply adding a subheading to your resume titled "Awards and Accomplishments" – especially if you have multiple inclusions to speak of. And while you'll obviously list the name of each accolade here, keep in mind that awards often require explanations and context (What the heck is the Francis Jellybean Memorial Award for Excellence?).

Making sense of each entry can require a full line of text or more. So if you choose this path, you'll need to master the art of short, clear, impressive descriptions that help your readers understand what you're talking about and that communicate the level of prestige or distinction that came with the achievement.

Adding to an existing section

If you won the Francis Jellybean Memorial Award for Excellence because you earned the highest GPA in your class during the third semester of your senior year, you can include this award in your education section. Just add a tagline after your degree and institution. If you won this award for perfect attendance at your workplace, add it as a tag in your work history section.

But if you won this award for an action that has nothing to do with your education or your job history, tagging won't work, so you'll need to consider another option. A text box might do the trick.

The magic of text boxes

Most resumes are created in programs like Microsoft Word, which has a host of desktop publishing features that are constantly evolving and are often underused. Play with these features a little and you may find some interesting ways of presenting information that you didn't know existed. The text box can be a very handy tool, for example. You can add a box of any size, and as long as the information inside the box is consistent, employers will easily see what you're trying to do.

You can use a separate box for each award, or you can categorize your awards into types, placing one type in each box. For example, add a box for published poems or simply box each publication separately, including the poem title, publication, date, and volume.

Which items should you include?

Even if you have to do a little creative maneuvering, include any award that can help you land this job. Here's a rule of thumb: Would you like to be asked about it during your interview? If the answer is yes, shoehorn it into your resume.

If the answer is no, then on some level you don't find it relevant, and your employer probably won't either. A peewee soccer victory might get bumped if you played halfback and won at the age of nine, but it should stay on the page if you played coach and your team won the award just last year. Generally, artistic accomplishments, sports victories, and volunteer and humanitarian awards are all smart additions to a resume.

Rely on your organizational skills, your creativity, and your judgment as you move forward. You can also rely on the resume creation and formatting tools on MyPerfectResume.

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