Tips for How to List Awards Honors on Your Resume

Marsha Hebert, professional resume writer
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Today’s job market is highly competitive, especially for those just graduating from school or college. With roughly 44% of US adults over the age of 25 possessing a college degree in 2023, that’s a lot of competition – equating to more than 100 million Americans. 

You will probably find yourself up against other candidates with far more actual work experience, especially if you’re applying for roles that are above entry-level. Relying on your resume with scant work experience from spring and summer breaks can work against you. 

  • So, how can you separate yourself from the competition and land that much-needed interview you require to get hired? 

  • If you don’t have the relevant work experience, what else can you focus on that will set you apart from the rest?

To overcome those challenges and impress hiring managers, you need to demonstrate that you have real achievements and ambition. The best way to do this is to list accomplishments, awards, and honors on your resume in a clear and concise manner. 

This will help show your worth, demonstrate what you’ve achieved in the lecture hall or elsewhere on campus, and how you can then apply that in the real world of work.

Key Takeaway

Having awards and honors on your resume bolsters your application. If you want to improve your chances of getting noticed by hiring managers, this small tip could make a big difference.

Why should you list awards and honors on your resume?

The fact is that hiring managers need to see something that suggests you’re a better employment prospect than other applicants. Without valuable hard skills obtained from a solid work history, you will need to focus all your attention on other key achievements. Here are some of the reasons you should list awards and honors on your resume. 

  • Showcase your capabilities. Having awards and honors on your resume can serve to demonstrate your ability to complete tasks, your ambitions, and your key competencies.

  • Boost your value. Awards show that you went above and beyond. When you put them on your resume, you let the hiring manager know that you are a cut above the rest.

  • Emphasize your soft skills. Soft skills can set you apart from the competition. When you include awards and honors on your resume, they provide evidence for these skills. 

  • Highlight your passion. You don’t win awards and honors without being passionate about your industry. If you want to show that you have some real enthusiasm for your sector, including these on your resume is a smart way to do just that.

Having awards and honors on your resume could indicate that you’ll also be an exceptional employee if you’re hired. If you have achieved these in your schooling or work, don’t be shy about it. It’s well worth using them to take your application to the next level. 

Which awards, honors, and accomplishments matter the most?

Most career advice experts will recommend that you focus attention on the most relevant accomplishments, awards, and honors on your resume. The problem is that few define “relevant” in that context.

How can you tell which professional achievements will matter to a given employer? Yes, you should certainly be proud of all your awards, honors, and accomplishments – but will a hiring manager care about the same things you hold in high regard?

The key is to align those awards and honors on your resume with relevant skills in the job description. It’s tailoring your resume in such a way that it matches what the employer is looking for. That way, when the hiring manager reads your application, they will want to interview you.

For example, let’s look at some common professional achievements that you may want to include in your resume:

  • Any academic or athletic awards

  • Scholarships

  • Your degree, Master’s, or PhD information

  • Awards provided for excellence in voluntary activities

  • Awards that target specific academic achievements

  • Job-related awards, if you have ever been employed

  • Placement on the Dean’s list or honor roll

  • Exceptional grade point average (GPA)

  • Leadership positions at your school

  • Being a member of an accredited professional association

Keep in mind that achieved recognition should only be limited to things that go above and beyond ordinary expectations. There is no added merit attached to showing up on time, getting along with others, or doing the required work according to instructions. These are all admirable skills, of course, but they involve nothing more than meeting the basic expectations and requirements of any role.

When listing relevant academic excellence, awards, and honors on a resume, you should focus on your truly exceptional achievements.

Where to put educational honors on a resume

Where you put your honors and awards on your resume matters. However, this decision usually depends on where you are in your professional career. Let’s take a look: 

Recent graduates

If you’re a recent graduate, it’s best to put the education section near the top of your resume, under the Professional Profile. That way, the hiring manager can see straight away that you have recently graduated from college and are looking for a first job. They can also easily spot which college you went to and what degree you obtained, and whether it was “cum laude,” another honor you can apply to your resume if relevant.

Key Takeaway

The designation of cum laude translates from the Latin as “with praise” or “with honor” and represents a certain level of academic achievement. It should always be written in lowercase and italicized.

Seasoned professionals 

On the other hand, if you have been working for a while and your experience is more relevant, you might want to shake things up. In this case, you can include a specific Awards section on your resume. Generally speaking, this section sits beneath your Education section. You can also include awards and honors beneath the roles in which you earned them. 

Key Takeaway

If you have been in work for a matter of years, you might want to rethink where you include awards and honors on your resume. Be smart about the placement of these additions. 

Examples of awards and honors on a resume

If you’re feeling confused, don’t worry. We have a simple ‘listing awards and honors on a resume’ template that you can use. Check out the examples below before you get started on yours.

Education and Awards

Bachelor of Arts in Communication – Seattle University

Award – Student Journalist of the Year, 2022

  • Given in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the world of student journalism and awarded for a series of articles printed in the newspaper regarding the increasing dropout rate among students from the university. The award offered national recognition from a coalition of newspaper and broadcast media.

 Possible titles include:

  • Awards & Honors

  • Awards

  • Professional Development and Awards

You can even combine it with your education section:

  • Education and Awards

Since these accomplishments, awards, and honors on a resume are often difficult to tie in with employment qualifications, you need to be careful as to how you present them. This means only including information that bolsters your prospects for getting hired and omitting any personal achievements or awards that are completely irrelevant to employment. 

Expert Tip

Make sure it’s relevant! 

Forget about that state fair cook-off award you won several years ago – unless you’re applying for a job as a chef. Chances are that an accounting firm won’t care that your chili con carne was voted best in the state three years in a row!

Be specific about the professional awards, honors, and accomplishments you’ve achieved and avoid vague language. If you were on the Dean’s List for two straight years, don’t just put down that you graduated with honors on your resume. Instead, hone in on that fact. 

Dean’s List 2022-2023, 3.9 GPA

Received Student of the Year Award in 2023 while at ABC University

Should you put GPA on your resume?

Your GPA (grade point average) is the numerical value relating to the average letter grades you earned throughout your time at high school or college. If you’ve recently graduated with little or no work experience, it’s advised to put your GPA on your resume if it’s between 3.5 and 4.0. This shows an excellent work ethic and how you can meet expectations.

If you didn’t achieve Latin honors, like summa cum laude or magna cum laude, it’s also worth putting your GPA on your resume. If you did secure this honor, it indicates that you scored a high GPA anyway, so there’s no need to add it on.

There is no need to continue having your GPA score on your resume once you’ve been out of college for three years or have built up a substantial Career Summary section. That’s because it will be your work experience that’s more important in a prospective employer’s eyes.

Accomplishments on a resume

But wait, what about any accomplishments you have? Accomplishments on a resume should usually be listed as bullet points within the work experience section or under your education or internship sections. Make sure you align this information with the right section. 

For leadership posts or other accomplishments, don’t just detail what you did but the impact that your actions had on colleagues or the wider organization. The more evidence you can provide here, the better it will illustrate your value to a potential employer. 

University Student Advisory Council, 2022-2023

  •  Introduced two fund-raising programs that increased student participation by 28% and overall donor activity by 132%

  • Established the ABC Student Scholarship program, which helped disadvantaged students cover textbook expenses

Creating a separate section for awards and honors

You could also highlight career achievements in a separate awards section. This will enable you to make sure that these high points leap out to the hiring manager. It also provides an opportunity for you to develop some consistency in how the information is presented.

For each of these achievements, include:

  • Award types. You should include the type of award, honor, or achievement and when you received it. This is the basic information that the hiring manager will expect.

  • Subject. What does the award recognize? That may be the exact subject, sector, and title of the award, for example. Make it clear what it was for.

  • How you got it. Why it was important, and what you did to achieve it. While you likely won’t have the space to go into too much detail here, briefly outline what you can.

  • Scope of the award. Be clear about whether it was a school, city, regional, or national award or honor. Don’t just put ‘Top salesperson,’ explain that it’s in the region, for instance. The more context you give the hiring manager, the better here. 

Winner, Above & Beyond Award, University of Columbia, 2022

  • Recognized by the student union of the university for work carried out in the Diversity & Inclusion sphere, which encouraged members of disparate groups to engage in activities and feel more involved in student life.

Expert Tip

Be selective in your description!

You might be able to wax-lyrical about your award. However, make sure that everything you include has value for the hiring manager. You may want to write down a full description and then edit it. Cut anything that isn’t essential for the reader here.

Go get the job

Your awards, honors, and accomplishments could make all the difference in getting hired or not. The bottom line is clear: in a competitive job market, even your school awards, honors, and accomplishments matter.

Just be sure to tailor your resume to accommodate them and shape your message to highlight their relevance. Used properly, they could provide you with the push you needed to get your foot in the door, quite literally, of that all-important job interview.

If you’re still not sure how to list honors on your resume but you’re keen to land a new role, check out our free review for further help and advice.

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Marsha Hebert, professional resume writer

Written by

Marsha Hebert, Professional Resume Writer

Marsha is a resume writer with a strong background in marketing and writing. After completing a Business Marketing degree, she discovered that she could combine her passion for writing with a natural talent for marketing. For more than 10 years, Marsha has helped companies and individuals market themselves. Read more advice from Marsha on ZipJob's blog.

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