Explore how to boost your application by adding special recognitions to your CV.

In this competitive age of hiring, it’s important to have a CV that stands out in a stack of other applications. By incorporating your unique honors and awards, you will set yourself apart from the crowd of other candidates. However, you need to know when, where, and how to include these special recognitions on your CV. In the following guide we will tell you what awards and honors you should write about, when it’s appropriate to list them, where to include them within your CV, as well as some special writing tips, format structures, and examples.

Which special recognitions to include on your CV

There are several different kinds of special recognitions you can include on your CV. If you are a current student or recent graduate, it is recommended that you add scholarships, academic awards, and honor societies to an honors and awards section of your CV. On the other hand, if you are a professional with a few years of experience, it is more to your benefit to include career related certificates or special recognitions gained throughout your profession. In any case, the accomplishments you decide to highlight on your CV should ideally be relevant to the position that you are applying for or somehow relate to the work field as a whole.

When to include honors and awards on your CV

If you have the space on your CV and the achievements are relevant to the applying job role at hand, then it is recommended to list your awards and honors on your CV. It is especially important to incorporate any special recognitions that you have earned in the case that you are a current student or recent graduate, as you will most likely not have as much professional experience to include on your CV. This can be accomplished by creating a separate section just for your awards and honors. Another option is to include the specific awards that you earned during your academic years within the education section, under the area of study/degree, institution name, and year. These awards and honors will show off some of your skill areas as well as your effort for high achievement.

When it comes to candidates who have a large amount of experience, it is best to highlight awards and honors that you earned during your career rather than those that you earned back in your school days. Although they are no less deserving of recognition, they will no longer have as much significance to employers and hiring managers. Employers prefer to see the notable gains that you have made in your area of work, and how you may be able to apply similar skills to deliver similar accomplishments at their company.

Where to list your special recognitions or accomplishments

The appropriate place to list your awards and honors depends on where you are in your career. For example, if you are a student or you graduated a short while ago, you probably don’t have as much experience in your desired career field. Thus, it may be worth it to create a separate honors and awards section, as you will have a sufficient amount of space on your CV to do so. If the honors and awards were awarded during your academic experience, you can include them in your education section. On the other hand, if you have several years of work experience, you don’t have enough room on your paper CV to create a separate section just for your special recognitions. In this case, seasoned professionals can list honors and awards within the specific work experience where it was earned. In addition, it is always a recommended to mention your most significant recognitions in your executive summary. Remember in either case, if you do not have enough room on your PDF CV to write about your honors and awards in great detail (including descriptions about the award and its significance), you can always add more detailed explanations on your online CV.

Tips for writing about your honors and awards

  • You should always include, the name of the award, the year earned, and the institution where it was earned.
  • Ideally, you should also write a brief description about the qualifications needed to receive each award (as they relate to the position/field at hand). The employer may not be familiar with the award or the organization, so briefly explain them by including the significance of the accomplishment.
  • Focus on the elements of the award or honor which are directly relevant to the position you are applying for. Do not add unnecessary information if it is not applicable to the job or field at hand.
  • In the case that you are writing about your awards, and achievements earned while fulfilling a specific role (exclusively within your work experience section), consider using a special bullet sign symbol, such as a star, or bolded text to highlight the difference between this achievement and your other responsibilities.
  • Similarly, if you are incorporating any scholarships, awards, or honors earned during your educational experience section, it is best to use bullet points to put a special emphasis on these recognitions as well as facilitate readability.
  • Don’t include high school honors on your CV. No matter whether you recently graduated from college or are an experienced professional, it is always recommended to discard information from high school. It will seem like you’re desperate to fill up CV space that you can’t adequately occupy with more recent accomplishments.

Awards and honors format

Whether using a separate awards section or highlighting your recognitions within the education or work experience sections, you can use the following formats to help organize your honors on your CV. Remember you can always modify these templates according to your circumstances as well as the job that you are applying to.

AWARDS AND HONORS FORMAT 1 (separate section)

Name of Award | Institution | Year

Description of the award, it’s significance, requirements to earn it, and any other information pertinent to the position or career field you are applying to.

Description of the award, it’s significance, requirements to earn it, and any other information pertinent to the position or career field you are applying to.

AWARDS AND HONORS EXAMPLE 2 (within education section)

Degree in Major(s) | College/University Name | Year of Graduation

  • Latin Honors & GPA - Brief description of what it means to achieve this particular ranking of Latin Honors and GPA.
  • Name of Award - Brief description of the significance of the award (scope & purpose).
  • Name of Award - Brief description of the significance of the award (scope & purpose).

AWARDS AND HONORS EXAMPLE 3 (within work experience section)

Position | Company (Start Date - End Date)

Brief description of the company and your role:

  • Primary responsibility/achievement
  • Primary responsibility/achievement
  • Primary responsibility/achievement
  • Honor awarded and brief description of significance & scope (Year).
  • Honor awarded and brief description of significance & scope (Year).
  • Honor awarded and brief description of significance & scope (Year).

Awards and honors examples

AWARDS AND HONORS EXAMPLE 1 (separate section)

Distinction in Writing | Michigan State University | 2017

Among my proudest achievements, the Distinction in Writing award was only given to two other students in my graduating class. I had to meet a wide variety of criteria far beyond the standard curriculum of the writing major as well as compile an extensive portfolio.

Mells Sustainability Scholarship | Michigan State University | 2015

I was awarded this scholarship for my environmental writing and ambitions. Recipients must hold high academic promise (3.5 GPA or higher) and demonstrate environmental awareness and advocacy.

AWARDS AND HONORS EXAMPLE 2 (within education section)

Bachelor of Arts in French | Lake Forest College | 2016

  • Summa Cum Laude - Graduated with highest honors and a 3.9 / 4 GPA.
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society - U.S.’s most prestigious honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences.
  • Mary Coles Prize in French Literature - Awarded annually to one senior in the French Department who has "made the most distinguished record in the study of French letters.”

AWARDS AND HONORS EXAMPLE 3 (within work experience section)

Line Check Flight Attendant | Delta Airlines, Atlanta, GA (July 2011 - July 2018)

Line Check Flight Attendant certified by the FAA to teach and perform all inflight safety, customer service and cabin preparation duties, along with communicating and cooperating with airline management, flight crew, safety and ground personnel. My greatest achievements included:

  • Ensured 100% high-quality flight safety and security including the facilitation of line checks and observation of flight legs, safeguarding FFA compliance and adherence to Delta policies.
  • Created a supportive environment, enabling accurate assessment of FA performance/proficiency in resource MGMT and customer service.
  • Collaborated on Delta's FA Open House hiring process design.
  • One of 9/400 chosen FAs to administer the beta group for Delta's "Point the Way" inflight training program (2016) - ensuring that all Delta FAs have the knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm to fulfill the requirements of the position.
  • Received (OFA) Outstanding Flight Attendant Award five years in a row (2014-2018), awarded to FAs who provide exemplary service and show dedication and commitment to the position and customers alike.
  • Placed 1st in a company-wide customer satisfaction competition (2017).

No matter whether you are a current student, recent graduate, or seasoned professional being honored for your academic or work-related achievements is always an impressive sign of accomplishment and should never be downplayed when applying for a new job. Showing off your special recognitions, awards, and honors could be the key to setting yourself apart from candidates with similar academic backgrounds, work experiences, and qualifications.

Don’t diminish your achievements. If you have received several awards in your industry or accomplished something unique within a previous job experience, play it up! Always keep in mind that the purpose of your CV is to sell yourself. By highlighting your awards and honors you can more effectively exhibit your distinguished expertise in a field as well as your drive for excellence.