How to pick a Rising Star

Nominations for the 2014 Rising Star awards are now open. Here's what you need to know to write a great one.

Rising Star 2013

Nominations for he 2014 Rising Star awards are now being accepted -- and we need your input to be sure we find the best possible candidates for our judges to consider.

The Rising Star awards spotlight women and men who -- even in the early stages of their federal IT careers -- are having an impact far above their pay grade, and who show clear signs of being leaders in the community in the years to come. Nominees can come from government, the private sector, academia or the non-profit world -- the only restrictions are that be actively involved in the community, and in the first 10 years of their federal IT careers. So while many nominees are in their 20s and 30s, age is not the issue -- a 50-year-old veteran who's embarked on a second career is every bit as eligible.

So be thinking about the individuals you know who are both doing great things today and showing potential for tomorrow. Start identifying your supporting nominators, and gathering the information you'll need to show us these people are really Rising Stars.

This year's nomination form has been streamlined; there are now three key questions rather than five:

  1. Describe this person's job, and the work for which he or she is being nominated.
  2. What impact did this work have? How did the nominee go above and beyond to make a difference?
  3. If needed, provide any additional background information to support this nomination.


There are 1,200 characters allowed for each question, so choose your words wisely -- clarity and brevity count!

Each nomination also requires basic biographical details for the nominee (name, title, organization, years in the field, etc.), and contact information for you and any supporting nominators (each nominee can have up to five). The essay questions, however, are what make or break a nomination. Here's what to keep in mind as you write them:

  • Focus on an individual’s accomplishments over the past year. This is an All-Star Team, not the Hall of Fame award, so don’t dwell on long and faithful service. Be specific about what the project encompassed and what the person did that was extraordinary.
  • It is the accomplishment and not the job title that counts, so describe the person’s contribution and show why the project is important to the community at large.
  • We know teams are important, but this is an individual award. Save your team nominations for the GCN Awards -- those nominations are also open!
  • This is not a popularity contest. Nominate people who have had a significant impact, even if they are not universally liked.
  • Supporting nominators matter -- a nomination with a single nominator can certainly produce a winner, but the judges pay attention to who is nominating and how they know the nominee/project.
  • That said, ask before you add someone’s name as a supporting nominator. Every year we have at least one judge who is stunned to find his or her name on a nomination he or she knew nothing about. It almost never has a positive effect on the discussion.
  • If you are nominating an industry person for work done at a government agency, it helps to have government corroboration. If ethical considerations make it difficult to enlist an agency employee as a supporting nominator, try to get third-party substantiation.
  • Finally, show the judges why this individual is an emerging leader to watch!

So gather all the necessary information, and begin nominating your favorite Rising Stars today.

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