Last night millions of Americans tuned into the Oscars to find out who the most talented people are in show business. Why do these awards matter to us so much that we even broke Twitter from excessive retweeting? Awards mean credibility. It’s a way for industries to call out excellence and inform the public of the best of the best. The actors, writers, and directors who were nominated and won last night worked hard to get to that point. The exclusive club of Oscar winners practically guarantees a spot in any movie of the actor's choice. The personal brand recognition of an Oscar winner sky rockets, and the public is now more willing to spend $12 to see his/her movie. The same applies to your employer brand. As a startup or growing company, you are competing with bigger, well-known brands for talent. You are always looking for ways to show credibility early on, and one way (certainly not the only way) could be to stand out through employment-related awards. Anecdotally, I worked for a startup with approximately 20-30 employees at the time. At that point, we were not a household name. However, we were at a stage of growth where we needed to go beyond our own networks to find talent. We applied for a local “Best Places to Work Award” and won in our category. It made us all proud that we had outside validation. We showcased the award on our careers page, and spoke to it in interviews. It even brought in some interest from the press about our business.

In the world of Human Resources, there are many of these awards to choose from, and some have categories for small and growing businesses. This doesn’t mean you should apply to every single award. Pick out the awards that mean the most to your employer brand. Is health very important to your company, and you want to attract likeminded talent? The Healthiest Employers Award might be a good fit. Winning one of these awards could help boost your employer brand strategy by creating brand awareness to your desired talent pool. Here are some awards programs to consider:

1) ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards

How is this award unique? It’s only for recruiting and related talent successes — not for benefits, training, and so on. It’s chosen among an audience of the most progressive and interesting and dynamic recruiters. It has a rich history and its winners have become widely respected in the field.

“Do I need to be a big, for-profit corporation to have a shot at winning? No. Non-profits from any part of the world are welcome to apply. Government agencies from any nation are welcome to apply. Small and mid-size companies are welcome to apply. Some winners and finalists are well-known, big-name companies, but many others are smaller and become well-known through this process!”

2) HR Excellence Awards

“The HR Excellence Awards represent the gold standard for people strategy. All too often it is forgotten just how important it is to recognize those who push the boundaries, those who dare and challenge convention. Past winners have shown character full of entrepreneurialism, vision, leadership and innovation. The HR Excellence Awards have provided a platform for these strategies to be celebrated and therefore a platform upon which the sector can learn.”

3) The Candidate Experience Awards

“The philosophy of the CandE Awards is to recognize all corporations that meet the standard of candidate experience excellence in 2014 with a Candidate Experience Award. Winners then receive the right to display the 2014 Candidate Experience stamp on their marketing collateral.  In addition, a subset of participants will be eligible for the CandE Awards With Distinction Honor and have their stories included in the 2014 Candidate Experience white paper research for that region.”

4) Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for

“For more than 25 years Great Place to Work® has studied the world’s most notable workplace cultures, from small startups to some of the best-known multinationals, and what makes them tick. We have shown that creating a great workplace can produce superior business performance. We have seen how evaluate your company’s performance against that of the best can help you create your own great workplace.”

5) The Business Journal Best Places to Work

The Business Journal conducts “Best Places to Work” awards for different regions throughout the country.

6) Healthiest Employers Award

“The Healthiest Employer awards program recognizes organizations that are committed to creating a healthy workplace. The award utilizes an online assessment tool and measures wellness programming in six key categories: 1. Culture and Leadership Commitment, 2. Foundational Components, 3. Strategic Planning, 4. Communication and Marketing, 5. Programming and Interventions, 6. Reporting and Analysis.”

7) Working Mother 100 Best Companies

“The 2013 Working Mother 100 Best Companies make schedule flexibility a bedrock benefit. They know that working parents will get the job done—whether 9-to-5 or late at night, down the hall from the boss or in an office at home.”

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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