It's an honor just to be nominated: A guide to sprucing up your résumé

I expected laughter to follow after telling more than one person this past week that presidential candidate Donald Trump apparently has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.


There was laughter. There also was the occasional gasp of horror.

I’m not talking about some prize you get out of a cereal box. It’s the Nobel Peace Prize.

And I’m not talking about one of the 19 other people in the United States who happen to be named Donald Trump. One of them, Donald L. Trump, is an oncologist and the chief executive of a cancer institute in Virginia. I’ve never met the man, but he already sounds like a tighter lock for a Nobel.

But no. I’m talking about Donald J. Trump, the billionaire without a filter.

Kristian Berg Harpviken is director of Oslo’s Peace Research Institute, which predicts the likely prize-winners. He said he had been sent a copy of the Trump nomination letter last week.

The chances of Trump winning, I hasten to add, are remote. Past unsuccessful nominees have included Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin. Josef Stalin was nominated twice.

I’m certainly not comparing Trump to those guys. I just don’t want his fans to get their hopes up.

Still, think about it – “Nobel Peace Prize nominee” looks good on a résumé, doesn’t it? You bet!

Which is why I’m going to let you all in on a semi-secret: You can be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Oh yes. You can’t nominate yourself. But a Nobel winner, or a current or past member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, can write a letter recommending you for this honor.


YOU MAY NOT know people who fit those criteria. But there’s still hope. According to the Nobel rules, you also can be nominated by “members of national assemblies and governments of states.” For us that means members of Congress. So if you can talk your congressman into rattling off a letter to Oslo, you’re in.

The nominating committee also accepts letters from “professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology.” Now we’re talking. I know a few professors – one or two who might be crazy enough to do it, you know, as a favor.

Understand, though: You don’t have to be qualified to win the Nobel. Once the committee accepts your nomination, eligibility no longer becomes your problem. You’re officially a nominee now!

And you better update that résumé.

As it turns out, there are a lot of other impressive awards you can apply for to make your professional background sparkle.

Here’s one we joke about around the office – the Pulitzer Prize, awarded for many literary achievements but considered A Big Deal for journalists. Rick McKee, our talented and wildly amusing editorial cartoonist, has submitted entries to the Pulitzers, by his estimation, at least 15 times. He’s never won (a travesty worth deeply exploring later). But the running gag in our tight-knit group is that Rick could bill himself as “15-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Rick McKee.” Impressive, right?

Now technically, the Pulitzer people call folks like Rick “entrants” until one of the Pulitzer Prize Board juries names a group of finalists as “nominees.” But that hasn’t stopped some journalists from calling themselves Pulitzer nominees when all they did was enter.

Even if you haven’t done Pulitzer-worthy work recently, there’s still hope.


HAVE YOU HEARD of the Medal of Freedom? It’s the highest civilian honor the U.S. government can bestow. It’s kind of like the Pulitzers in that you can be recommended for the award, but a nominating committee has to actually choose you. Still – “recommended for the Medal of Freedom” wouldn’t sound too shabby to a potential employer.

But the Presidential Citizens Medal is the second-highest U.S. civilian honor. And it says right there in the criteria: The presidential executive order creating the medal “does not limit who may nominate someone so long as the candidate is a United States citizen.” You can even nominate yourself. So there you go. Get typing!

If all this seems like too much work to spruce up your résumé, you at least can say you were named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2006.

Why? Because you were! The Dec. 25, 2006, cover of Time had a reflective “mirror” surface that recognized “you” – among millions of other Americans – for anonymously contributing user-generated content in social media and on other websites. So calling yourself a Time Person of the Year could be an impressive icebreaker at the next party you go to, and (if you’re ethically flexible) not completely a lie.

Of course, all this might tend to cheapen the honors for the actual winners – the people who truly deserve these distinguished awards.

But really, it’s an honor just to be nominated.



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