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      Utilising PA awards

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      We’ve had the Baftas, Grammys, Brit Awards, Oscars and now it’s time to recognise those individuals providing dynamic support in the legal industry. What better place to do that than at the annual Strictly Recruitment Legal Support Awards?

      Selina Yelland, winner of the Legal PA of the Year Award shares her top tips, from creating the perfect nomination to delivering a successful panel interview

      RESEARCH
      Research awards, join in with social media, LinkedIn/Twitter and find out which awards are the most attractive in terms of popularity, relevance and outcome.

      • Investigate the background to the awards and how they have grown.
      • Find out who the sponsors are.
      • Research the judging panel.
      • Read last year’s winner’s story; find out how they utilised the award and what it meant for them to be the winner.

      THE NOMINATION
      Some nominations are word restricted so keep within the guidelines. However, the following tips will help when thinking about your nomination:

      • Find out if anyone else within your network has applied for awards before, have a coffee and share experiences.
      • Read through the questions carefully – what are they trying to find out? Brainstorm your ideas to identify all of your successes.
      • Sell what you do and promote your brand – do not undersell anything you’ve done well.
      • Obtain testimonials – offer the chance for others to support your main focus points.
      • Add context and purpose – why did you do this and what did you achieve? Provide examples to back up what you say.
      • Investigate your area of expertise – what is the market doing and how are you reacting to it? Be seen to be ahead of the game.
      • What makes you stand out? Think outside of the box, identify what motivates you.
      • Plan your feedback – ask different colleagues working in various roles to read through with fresh eyes; what messages came through? If it’s unclear, revise it.
      • Communication – if you have access to a marketing department let them add their sparkle, as this is their area of expertise.

      Tip! Remember the person reading your nomination knows nothing about you. Try not to story tell; just say what you did, how and why.

      THE SHORTLISTING
      Congratulations – you’re halfway there – however, at this stage it is vital to prep, prep and then prep some more.

      • Practise interviews with a colleague and have some example Q&As at the ready. E.g. How you turned a negative into a positive. Can you explain your most stressful situation? Would you do anything differently?
      • Enhance your profile with social media. It is likely that a judge will look at your social media profile, so make sure your pages are up-to-date. Where possible seek help from your company’s marketing team for PR preparation and inform your colleagues of the achievement internally.

      Tip! Are you a member of a PA network? Can you share your experience with others? Local press, internal publications – think about how you can utilise and spread the good word. Preparing for this at this stage will add some value and talking points if you get to the next stage.

      FACING THE JUDGING PANEL
      Keep calm and reassure yourself that they are interested in you. They want to know more so this is your time to shine!

      • Don’t be late – plan your journey and give yourself time to relax just before.
      • Revise your nomination and bring materials with you to talk about during your interview. This will add familiarity when in the spotlight. Remember to refer to your main focus points.
      • If your mind goes blank when a question is asked just ask them to repeat it.
      • Just remember that winning isn’t the only objective; the journey will stretch and provide you with time for reflection, so enjoy it.

      Tip! Try not to overthink the interview afterwards; if you gave it your best shot then that is all you can do.

      AWARDS CEREMONY, TAKE A BOW
      Attending an awards ceremony is a great opportunity to raise your profile and network.

      • Arrange who will accompany you and plan your journey.
      • Plan an acceptance speech if you do win and prepare a list of positives to focus on if you don’t.
      • Network with the attendees – find out where they work and what they do and be an ambassador for your company.
      • Make sure you arrange some press for afterwards – become involved with some award blogging, local press and provide a write-up for internal and external communications.
      • Keep up the relationship – if the awards are an annual event, offer to help out. Perhaps you could sit on the judging panel or speak at events to raise the profile.

      Tip! Be kind to yourself and recognise that you put yourself there, it‘s a great achievement and opportunity for reflection and reviewing our achievements, which is something we should make more time for.

      So what are you waiting for? Success is only a step away.

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      AUTHOR

      Molly Dyson

      Former Editor – PA Life

      All stories by: Molly Dyson