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Perhaps this is unique to my organization (public sector, 10,000+ people), but if you want to receive recognition for your work, you need to nominate yourself for awards. Supervisors won't nominate, or even sign a nomination package you've prepared. Colleagues won't nominate, because there's a "what's in it for me" culture here. I understand that you need to go after opportunities yourself in life, but going after opportunities to "toot your own horn" seems arrogant.

Before you judge, I have nominated several colleagues for various awards and recognition while working here because I strongly felt they deserved it. I was glad to do it because I wanted to let these people know that I appreciated them. Some were successful, others not.

I feel very uncomfortable nominating myself for anything. I was raised to believe that your work should speak for itself, and if your work isn't causing other people to want to nominate you for recognition or awards, you aren't working hard enough. Self-promotion is seen as prideful in my family.

I routinely outperform my peers, and both my supervisor and colleagues have said, "you could nominate yourself for X if you want to." They are basically saying, "I think what you are doing is great and you deserve recognition for it, but I'm not going to support you."

Should I start self-nominating for every award that is relevant to my work?

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    What is the end goal? What do these nominations achieve? What do you hope to accomplish?
    – joeqwerty
    Jan 30, 2021 at 21:56

3 Answers 3

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Nominate yourself

I was raised to believe that your work should speak for itself

Admittedly only two years into my career, but I have never, ever, seen that work. It certainly didn't work in university. Those who asked, got. Those who waited, wanted. I knew an acquaintance who always got two friends and went to the prof teaching the next year's classes asking to TA the courses. She always got them so as he usually couldn't be bothered to interview candidates and she freely admitted she was not qualified.

if your work isn't causing other people to want to nominate you for recognition or awards

You admit this is a company full of self centred people. You could cure cancer and they wouldn't think to nominate you.

Should I start self-nominating for every award that is relevant to my work?

I do and have won a bunch from it. I won a scholarship as nobody else applied. There have been a couple things I have won, not because I was a particularly good candidate (and in a couple cases a poor one) but because so many others had the same hang-up as you and hoped that someone would spontaneously write 1000-3000 words on their behalf. That lead to a very empty candidate pool. There are extremely few people willing to do that even for themselves. Waiting for it to happen to you is not a winning strategy.

All those people on the 30 under 30 lists or the top 50 people of X or X of the month typically arranged for themselves to be nominated.

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  • Yes, if you want something then be proactive
    – Kilisi
    Jan 30, 2021 at 23:43
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I work in a similar environment to yours. Over the years I've won a few awards, some on my own nomination and some from others.

I used to feel reluctant to self-nominate. Then a few years back I heard one of my old managers say that he never nominated his staff for awards, no matter how well they'd done. His reasons aren't relevant here, but it was helpful to understand that there was no guarantee others would nominate us. Since then I've been less reticent about self-nominating.

In most workplaces, nobody officially has responsibility for "nominate all deserving staff for awards"; it's one of those things that people do when they have spare time and when they think of it, which makes it a haphazard process. Looking at one of your other questions I notice you're in a specialist role, which increases the risk that nobody else in the org will have a full understanding of what it is that you've been doing and how it contributes. You are the best person to advocate for yourself, so let the best person do that job.

You are not the best person to judge whether you deserve the application, but that's why awards processes have committees etc. It is their job to decide who is the best candidate for the award, but they can't do that if the best candidate isn't nominated.

This can of course be carried too far. If you start spamming applications for things that aren't even remotely appropriate, that could backfire and give a bad impression. But most people err on the side of being too reluctant to put themselves forward.

If you still find yourself feeling uncomfortable about it, perhaps set yourself a target of nominating other people for stuff as often as you nominate yourself?

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People do nominate others, you yourself have nominated others.

If these awards mean enough to you then either nominate yourself, or ask colleagues to.

Work on it's own may not be enough. If people dislike you or are jealous of you, or just don't care, then they won't nominate you however good your work is.

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