But what is the difference between a run-of-the-mill entry and one that stands out from the pack? Julie Mills, Managing Director of APSCo Australia and one of the longest serving judges for the SARAs, shares four tips on how to craft an outstanding submission.
Have a fresh perspective
When it comes to the consultant categories, Mills says simply talking about how you are achieving what is expected of you is not enough to catch the judges’ eye.
“Everyone will tell you they do candidate care. We’re looking for something you do which is a bit outside all of those standard recruitment practices… how do you take those core principles of recruitment and do something that somebody else doesn’t do?” says Mills.
One example of a fresh approach is sharing how you found the right role for an out-of-the-box candidate. “I’ve read submissions where people have taken on a really challenging candidate and not let go until they found a role for them,” says Mills.
Another is talking about how you deal with candidate rejection. “Sending cupcakes to a successful candidate is fine, but what about the 99 who spend a lot of time going through the same process and are unsuccessful?” adds Mills. “How do you make that person feel good about themselves to keep on going?”
Avoid ‘cut and paste’ submissions
Judges sit on multiple panels, which means submissions that have been ‘cut and pasted’ across multiple categories will be noticed and filtered out. Instead, Mills advises entrants to address the specific criteria in each category – succinctly, if possible.
“One consultant submission that ended up getting an award was only two pages,” she recalls. “They bullet-pointed the reasons why they should win an award, had three short sharp paragraphs as testimonials, then had evidence of their achievements in the last year. That was all they did. It was a very memorable submission in the sense that it cut to the chase,” says Mills.
Use statistics intentionally
For agencies, facts and figures are a good way to ground your submission in tangible results but use them with care. The best submissions, according to Mills, have a clear reason for including statistics. “Saying, ’we’ve got 45,000 followers on social media’ isn’t enough. If you’re going to use statistics and data, have a reason for why you’re putting it in there,” she says.
On the flip-side, don’t just fill your submission with motherhood statements; back them up with quantitative and qualitative evidence. A good way to do this, says Mills, is to include stories in your submission. “You might have a great candidate care program, but I want to know a candidate that has benefited from it. I want the real story behind it,” she says.
While it can be tempting to talk up your wins, being genuine in your submission goes a long way. Make sure what you write is mirrored in your public profile, and that your testimonials are current (at least within the last six months).
Also, make sure any values you uphold are reflected throughout all aspects of your agency. Judges can usually tell if a focus area – be it wellbeing programs, diversity initiatives, corporate social responsibility – is embedded in an agency, not just a flash in the pan.
“We’re really looking for a genuine commitment to things like flexible work, and you can pick that up in the flow of the submission,” says Mills.
“I’d advise agencies to look at the components of the questions and think, ‘what am I doing today – in my business plan, business strategy, three-month planning – that answers this question?” says Mills. “That’s the most real submission you can make.”
Submissions for the 2019 SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARAs) are opening on June 6. Visit seeksara.com for more information.