Forget the Oscars, Who Won the Futas?

Article excerpt

Super Bowl rings, Congressional Medals of Honor, and Nobel Prizes are hard to win and most of us lack the star power needed to clinch an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, or Grammy.

Nevertheless, more and more these days, Americans who toil in everyday professions are bringing home the gold. In advertising, they can win Clios, Addys, Effies, or Andys. Landscape architects can vie for the LaGasse Medal and other honors. Librarians have the chance to win a Futas.

There are so many awards, in fact, that some human resources professionals are growing numb to all the accolades.

"Many awards are given out so frequently that, given enough time, everyone has won them," says Colleen Manzer, a human-resources consultant in San Diego. "Too often, awards are resume padding, and in the worst cases, where someone has a laundry list of them, it may point to an ego issue."

Many companies say they are looking for more than gold statuettes when they hire.

"If someone has received meaningful recognition, it's nice, and it speaks well of that person," says Bob Ellis, vice president of human resources for The J.M. Smucker Co., a packaged-foods manufacturer in Orrville, Ohio. "But that alone wouldn't prompt me to bring them in. What we really look at here are: What are the capabilities needed to perform the job, and how do this person's values work with our beliefs and culture?"

While awards don't automatically open doors, they can help job candidates in an interview. "An award becomes a talking point, a pivot point," says Bill Heyman of Heyman Associates, a New York executive search firm. "If a company's interested in rebranding itself, and the candidate won an award for a successful re-branding campaign, this becomes a valid point of conversation in the interview."

The real value of professional recognition lies elsewhere, these experts suggest. Sometimes, it's personal.

"People have a deep need for acknowledgment," says Reni Witt, president of Mercomm Inc., a New York company that administers awards programs in marketing and public relations. "We all want respect for the work we've done and an acknowledgment that we've made a difference. …