How to Put Together the Best Honors and Awards Nomination Packet
Once you have identified a nominee and they have accepted the nomination, it is time to put together a packet.
- Review the National Honors and Awards information, the deadlines and requirements, and watch the webinar.
- Start early! The national awards process runs from November 1 to March 1 annually. Begin gathering information from the candidate to support the awards packet. This includes personal information needed for the application and names of other groups or individuals that may be able support the nomination.
- Assume the Honors committee has no idea who the nominee is, what their job entails, or what their impact has been. The Honors reviewers come from all backgrounds and disciplines. Spell things out as much as possible so that everyone reviewing is on the same page.
- Reach out to other groups to see if they will co-support the nomination. Co-sponsors can be DPGs, MIGs, affiliates or other Academy organizational units.
- A good nominee should be active in multiple groups and multiple levels of the Academy. Having support from multiple groups not only shows the breadth of impact the nominee has had in the field, but also helps spread out the workload.
- Ask the nominee to update their resumé or CV. When contacting recommendation letter writers, it is best to include this document. The resumé or CV can be no more than 25 pages.
- Once the resumé or CV is ready, reach out to groups or individuals the nominee has identified as potential recommenders. Ideal recommenders should be well-known in their fields of work. It is a good idea to ask different recommenders to address different award qualifications rather than every letter trying to cover the entire spectrum. The cover letter is where every qualification will be addressed.
- When asking for a recommendation letter, include a description of the award, its importance to the Academy, and a few lines about why the nominee qualifies for the award. Provide the letter writers with the nominee's resumé or CV, as well as the letter writing guidelines below.
- Include a deadline for when they must send their final letters to you. Try and get first drafts of letters back by early February so you have time to make edits and have buffer time in case someone is late.
- Note that current Academy/Foundation BOD and Honors Committee members, as well as Academy staff, are not eligible to write recommendation letters.
- As letters and the nominee's resumé or CV come in, work with the co-sponsors and the nominee to write the cover letter. The cover letter should synthesize information from other letters and resumé/CV while making the case as to why the nominee should win the award. The cover letter can be no more than 10 pages.
- The cover letter may include brief, pertinent quotations from individuals that have not written recommendation letters. If included, the quotes should add new information rather than simply an endorsement.
- Collect any additional information or work samples that can be added to the nomination packet.
- Any questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Proofread, edit, and submit. You are done!
How to Write a Stellar Recommendation Letter
Recommendation letters are key to Honors and Award packets. Letter writers are generally well-known and accomplished in their own fields. It is not uncommon for previous award recipients to write letters of support for nominees. It is important to have a wide range of groups and disciplines represented by the recommenders. Do not pick 5 people from a single DPG. Select writers from different parts of the nominee's life - work, volunteer service, leadership, mentors, or mentees.
Each letter should detail the accomplishments of the nominee as they pertain to the award criteria, but, unlike the cover letter, each letter should be from a personal perspective. The writer should paint a vivid picture of the contributions the nominee has made. They should try to speak to the criteria they are most familiar with regarding the nominee, but do not need to address all the criteria.
Encourage recommenders to focus on a few aspects of the award criteria. For example, a student might talk about a nominee's promotion of dietetics in the classroom setting by encouraging students to pursue professional credentials, while an employer may talk about how a nominee created a career ladder to promote dietitians. It is a good idea to ask those writing the recommendation letters which criteria they will cover in their letter so you can, in turn, ensure that all criteria are covered throughout the recommendation letters.
How to Write an Excellent Cover Letter
The cover letter is often the first part of the nomination packet that an Honors Committee reviewer reads. Your cover letter should paint the full picture of your nominee's accomplishments, but does not need to cover every last detail. This should be the nominee's greatest hits, not their entire background.
A good cover letter does not have to be the maximum 10 pages. It should concisely address the award criteria, emphasizing how the nominee excels in each area. Importantly, you should make the letter sound cohesive. This can be difficult because there will likely be multiple people writing or editing the letter. However, please ensure the letter sounds like it is from one voice.
10 Tips for Nomination Success
Whether you are seeking nomination or looking to nominate a colleague dedicated to the profession, these 10 tips can help create nomination success.
- Is your nominee right for the award?
Know the intent of the award and the required nomination components. Read the criteria for each honor and award carefully. Be realistic. These are the nutrition and dietetics profession's top awards. It is a very rigorous and competitive process. If the person or program you have in mind does not meet the stated qualifications, you should not submit a packet. An award will not be bestowed in any given year if nominations do not meet all the criteria.
- Submit a concise, well-written nomination packet.
Complete, well-written, but concise nomination packets are more likely to be successful. Use an active voice when writing.
- Provide a complete overview of your nominee or program.
A peer review process, using very specific, clearly defined scoring criteria, is used to review and rate the honors and awards nominations. Only the information in the nomination packet submitted online is considered. Do not assume the reviewers will know your candidate — you must include all their accomplishments in the nomination packet.
- Create a unique picture of your nominee.
Once again, this process is competitive. Your nomination packet must stand out among all the others that have been submitted if your candidate is to be one of the 30 percent that are selected for the Academy's prestigious national honors and awards. Put yourself in the reviewers' shoes. Your nomination will be judged by dietetics peers. Make sure your nomination clearly describes the uniqueness of your candidate.
- Solicit information from others to strengthen the nomination.
Be sure to solicit information from others to strengthen the nomination packet. Also, two heads are better than one — invite some colleagues to give you feedback and other ideas about the accomplishments of your nominee and how you've presented it. Their insights may make your nomination more robust.
- Be objective.
Submit objective information to support testimonials or statements made by colleagues whenever possible. Review all nomination materials for consistency before submitting the nomination packet.
- Make an impact.
Clearly describe how the specific, unique qualifications and contributions of your candidate or program have made a distinct impact on the nutrition and dietetics profession.
Don't wait until the last minute to prepare your nomination packet. Maintain an awards file. Most criteria remain very constant from year to year and changes in procedure are minimal. Gather materials early and allow plenty of time for review. Compile all nomination materials prior to initiating the online nomination process. Though you can "save" what you've done and go back later to complete the packet, it will make your submission process much smoother and hassle-free if you have all the necessary components compiled before you begin.
- Keep it brief - check the CV length.
Honors Committee members have many, many nomination packets to review. Don't write a book. Well-written, concise nominations are easier to read than long-winded accounts that are many pages in length. Focus on quality, not quantity. To ensure the committee has the most concise, impactful information about your candidate, any candidate with a CV longer than 25 pages needs to develop a more succinct and readable version for the purpose of this packet submission.
- If at first you don't succeed…resubmit!
Many excellent nominations are received annually. Based on the large number of nominations received, only about 30 percent become recipients. Your nominee may not be selected this year. That's okay. As long as you are sure the individual meets all the honor or award qualifications, feel free to submit the packet again next year. The Academy maintains the nomination packets within the online nomination platform. Simply review and update the nomination next year…and resubmit.