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At undergrad level I was short-listed for the most prestigious award at my university (best graduate of that year). I however did not receive it. I did not get any paper or other evidence stating that I was short-listed. I only know this because my personal tutor told me. She also mentions it in her reference letter for me. Should I include this in my CV? Such as: Shortlisted for award X?

  • Anyway, if it is cited in a reference letter, do you really need to list it on a CV? – Benoît Kloeckner Aug 21 '13 at 8:52
  • She simply mentions the name and not what the award is actually for. In my CV I have one line explaining what the award is for. – Gavin Aug 21 '13 at 10:31
  • Do you think I should email the University and ask for some letter to confirm that I was short-listed? This has been over a year though. – Gavin Aug 24 '13 at 12:27
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I will contradict Peter's answer: the CV is a living document, but it's one that needs to be supported by documentation. Something that cannot be proven should not be listed on a CV. If you only received a verbal confirmation that you were on the "short list" for an award, then you really don't have any documentation that you can provide, if called on to do so by a future employer.

Therefore, as much as it would be helpful to list such an award, I don't think it's a good idea to do so here.

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  • 1
    Yes, yes, yes! I have been caught out by this in the past, make sure everything you include can be quickly verified. – user7130 Aug 19 '13 at 10:40
  • My personal tutor however mentions it in her reference letter. Would that not be enough to verify it? – Gavin Aug 19 '13 at 11:15
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    No. CV should be verifiable independently of other things. Besides, it is hard to compare "being shortlisted" to achievements of other people. We all understand already that "the best" at some locality may mean anything from "a superstar" to "not so bad compared to the general background", so even the actual prize may not be revered unless your university is very well known. Anything below it is just too vague and immediately raises the questions like "How short was the list?", "How strong were other contestants?", "How many orders of magnitude better was the actual winner?", etc. – fedja Aug 19 '13 at 11:44
  • @fedja unless you have the numbers added to the CV! For example see my answer below. In that case it says "3 finalists from 29 nominations out of 349 eligible staff" and this info is verifiable because it is in an email directly from the official university email account responsible for administering the award. – WetlabStudent Feb 22 '18 at 4:22
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While aeismail and Peter's answers are both quite good, it strikes me as a very complicated issue. It does seem that you have some documentation that you got it and I agree with Peter that earlier in your career your CV can look quite empty so having anything to put on it can help show yourself in a better light.

On one hand, someone nominated for an academy award would certainly be referred to as 'Oscar Nominated.' On the other hand, to say you were short-listed for an award such as this (since from the title it is not clear how students are compared to each other) may come across as trying too hard.

I do think it would be acceptable and that you have some (albeit weak) evidence. However, were I in your shoes, I would not include it out of concern of looking too desperate to find good things to say about myself.

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  • The "documentation" is a mention in a letter of reference. That's not quite the same thing as a letter from the committee making the decision! – aeismail Aug 19 '13 at 13:28
  • @aeismail Yes, I agree. That's why I said it was weak evidence. It's not nothing...but it is not great evidence. – earthling Aug 19 '13 at 23:28
  • Besides, as a general practice, you aren't assumed to know what is written in your reference letters, so to put it on the table won't be easy... – fedja Aug 20 '13 at 3:18
  • While I totally agree with this, I've seen a lot of "trying too hard" CVs and it's hard to fault the students, since we're demanding they compete with a (expectedly) rather barren set of accomplishments. Then again, if I got the CV of an award-runner-up, I'd probably look up the winner and invite him or her to apply. ;) – wsc Aug 20 '13 at 15:07
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A CV is a living document that changes over time. early in one's career, there is not much one can put into it but hopefully this changes over time. I argue that one can put anything into a CV which strengthens ones profile at the stage at which one is at the moment. In other words, it sounds perfectly in line to add your short-listing now. At some point later such an item will probably not be worth keeping but that is a judgement call to be made depending on where you are in your career and what else is in the CV. Another factor to keep in mind is that CV content will vary depending on for what you need it.

So if you think something will positively reflect on your capacity in the light of for what you need the CV, add it!

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Yes you can, but you need to put contextual information next to the nomination. Writing the contextual information will help you decide whether being nominated for the award is an impressive achievement, and whether it is relevant to whatever you are applying for. For example I was a finalist for a "Faculty of Science Award" at my school for research excellence [I'm a postdoc]. I initially thought I wouldn't put it on my CV, because I didn't win. But then I had the idea to email the faculty of science to ask how many academic staff were eligible for the award and how many nominations they received, after hearing the answer I decided to add it to my CV. I now say

  • Finalist for X Award [3 finalists selected from 29 nominations, out of 349 eligible academic staff]

However, if they told me only 5 people were nominated and there were only 20 eligible people who could have potentially received the award. I wouldn't have added it. If you can't briefly explain the nomination in an impressive way using verifiable facts then don't include it [note that the email directly from the head of Faculty of Science makes the facts verifiable if anyone asks for proof].

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