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Pageant Paperwork & Resume (Examples, Templates and Tips)

27, November 2012

Everything that you do in a pageant is about communication, including and especially your pageant paperwork. The very first place that you begin that process of communication occurs long before you ever set foot in the interview room or on stage. You actually begin to communicate with your pageant paperwork. Unfortunately, the majority of pageant contestants, particularly those who are newer to the world of pageantry, tend to minimize the importance of their pageant paperwork. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide on how to use your pageant paperwork to communicate your best self to your judges.

Click on the links below to navigate through this guide:

Pageant Paperwork Tips

Pageant Resume Templates

Pageant Paperwork Contestant Examples

Sample Interesting Facts and Bio for a Pageant Resume

Accomplishments to List for Pageant Paperwork

Hobbies to List for Pageant Paperwork
 

If you're reading this course, you're likely preparing for a pageant. It might even be your first pageant. If that's the case, we also recommend reading How to Prepare for a Pageant (Step by Step) and Top 25 Questions Asked by Judges (In Every Pageant)!

Pageant Paperwork Tips

Your main goal is to create a pageant resume that provides the judges with all of the necessary information that will enable them to see you as a potential titleholder. You may wonder exactly what you should cover in our resume. You don't know exactly what the judges are looking for or what they want to know about you. All of that uncertainty about what the judges want, mingled with thoughts of self doubt can rob a contestant of her confidence. Needless to say, that is not a good way to start your competition journey.

Want to know how judges score pageants? Click here.

Well, sweet pageant girl, that is why you come to us in times like this. We know you're intimidated and confused. At the end of this guide, you'll be a pageant paperwork pro with a dazzling resume. As we go forward, we should mention that we will use the terms "paperwork" and "resume" interchangeably throughout the article. Let's dive in.

 

What should go in my pageant paperwork?

1. Follow directions

Before you ever start filling out pageant paperwork or creating your resume, you need to read through your contestant handbook and any other instructional information that your pageant director has given to you. The handbook is not a keep-sake! It is the "how-to" manual that was created to assist you in preparing for the pageant. Every pageant has a contestant handbook of some kind, and you should know it from cover to cover. The director has typically anticipated every question that you could possibly ask them, and addressed it in the contestant handbook. In addition to knowing your handbook, you should also read all the directions and details about your pageant that are outlined on the pageant website.

When you are about to fill out or create your pageant documents, you should thoroughly read through any directions that your director has already given you. If you have any questions whatsoever, or are confused by anything, you must take the time to talk to the director so that you are completely clear on what you are supposed to do. Directors want every aspect of their pageant competition to run smoothly, and they know that every year they're going to have brand new contestants who may not know what to do. With that in mind, you should never feel embarrassed about asking questions or getting points clarified.

If you don't read the directions thoroughly or if you make a lot of mistakes on your paperwork because you didn't get clarification, you will end up wasting your time and will have to do it over. Worse still, your mistakes may come back to haunt you later in the interview room. Yikes!

Do you want to start your pageant interview preparation? Check out our course, "How to Succeed in Pageant Interview" to get started!

2. Respect deadlines

One of the most important qualities for a titleholder to have is respect for others. Respecting deadlines is one of those areas where everyone observes whether or not a contestant has what it takes. There is nothing worse than a pageant contestant who disrespects their pageant director and is always late on their paperwork. If you are one of those people who doesn't pay attention to deadlines or you are always asking your director for permission to submit your things late, then you are going to get a reputation as someone who is disrespectful.

Understand that as a titleholder, you'll work alongside your pageant director in a partnership role. A director constantly deals with endless details in order to produce a successful pageant and, one of the most crucial details they have to deal with is deadlines. There is a reason that your pageant paperwork is due on the date selected. The director most likely chose that specific date because there are other dates, like program book publishing deadlines, that are driving it. So, be aware of the dates and deadlines that all paperwork, headshots, contracts and any other pageant related documents are due and always be on time!

3. Provide current information

One of the mistakes that some contestants make is that they put old or irrelevant information on their pageant resumes. They typically do this because they feel that they don't have enough interesting information or because they are new, they're either not sure what to include or they just don't have a lot of relevant pageant information to list.

It's crucial that all of the information that you include on all of your paperwork, but especially your bio that you use for interview has up to date, current information. Remember you don't have to list every single thing on your bio that has happened to you in your lifetime. You just need to include the information that is relevant to your platform, service work, the pageants brand and to your own personal brand. More about that later.

This is especially true if you are a person who enters a variety of pageants from different pageant systems. You must remember that every system has different values, objectives and branding strategies, and if you are going to be competing in a number of pageants, then you're going to have to update your paperwork to be tailored specifically to each one. Pageant resumes are not one-size-fits-all, so for you, it will be very important to update your resume each time that you compete in a new system.

One way to keep your resume current is to create a pageant journal that documents your community service work and experiences throughout the year, or you can also just keep a running list of your appearances and volunteer commitments in your calendar. That way you have a systematic method for keeping all of your contacts organized and keeping track of everything that you're doing so you can easily update your resume when you need to.

Miss Oregon USA 2020 Katerina Villegas. Photo: @katerinavillegas

What shouldn't go in my pageant paperwork?

1. Anything that's not true

This is the easily the most problematic area for all pageant contestants, regardless of how long they have been competing. Part of the problem is that it is human nature to want to be liked and to desire for other people to think highly of us. That tendency combined with the insecurity that we often feel during competition and our intense desire to win often may tempt you into dishonesty on your paperwork. Knowing that this is a very normal and expected problem to have, should make you feel better and give you hope. It happens to the best of us, so don't beat yourself up if you have done this previously or if you're tempted to do it now.

The bottom line is: telling lies or even just embellishing the truth a little bit on your paperwork is never a good idea, period. Even if you don't get caught, you'll know that lied and will spend precious brain power worried about being caught rather than acing your interview. It's just never worth it to lie or even to embellish the truth on your paperwork! The price that you will have to pay is too much.

Our goal at Pageant Planet is to positively encourage you to the point that you will no longer feel the need to lie about your accomplishments, or anything else for that matter. Remember that the reason that you feel the need to lie is that you believe that you are not enough for some reason. But, you have to learn to value yourself and be your own best cheerleader. The judges do not expect you to be a perfect person. They want you to be a real person.

If you are someone who is tempted to lie or embellish, part of your pageant journey may be that you will have to learn how to be honest and authentic in the interview room. When you do learn how to take that risk and be exactly who you are, you will find that people will love you for it because you are also giving them permission to do the same thing!

Do you want to start your pageant interview preparation? Check out our course, "How to Succeed in Pageant Interview" to get started!

2. Be conscious of "TMI"

Do you have a temptation to tell too much of the truth about yourself? You might have an issue with sharing too much information ("TMI"). Now, we're not saying you shouldn't be candid and share from the heart. In fact, honesty helps people to connect more strongly with one another.

What we're talking about here is sharing overly personal details on your pageant paperwork that the judges will be using for your interview. You're in danger of TMI when the information is either not relevant for a stranger to know about you, or is frankly just inappropriate to the situation. You need to communicate enough personal details and facts about yourself for the judges to make that assessment. However, this isn't the time to share details about your private life. Anything that wouldn't be deemed workplace appropriate shouldn't be in your paperwork.

Want to know how judges score pageants? Click here.

There must be a purpose for everything that you put on your resume, so go ahead and ask yourself if a piece of information needs to be there. If you're not certain, ask a pageant coach or submit your paperwork for review through one of our Pageant Prep memberships

3. Don't be unprofessional

This is a little bit easier to understand because the guidelines for being professional are very straight forward. 

  • Type everything you submit, if possible. This looks cleaner and more organized. Obviously, if your director has mailed or handed you a pageant application, you will have to hand write your information. In the event that you must hand write anything, please do so legibly. If your judges can't read your handwriting, how will they know what to ask in interview? Want to know how to rock your interview? Start with How to Succeed in Pageant Interview!
  • Proofread. Write in normal sentence style, using proper grammar and spelling. Don't capitalize things that shouldn't be capitalized. Proofread your paperwork and have someone else proofread as well. If you go to all the trouble to create a fantastic resume, but it's full of errors, you've wasted your time.
  • No crazy inks, fonts or papers. Write in blue or black ink. Use Times New Roman or Arial font. No crazy stationary patterns or colors. Disappointing, we know.
  • Don't abbreviate. Don't ever assume that someone will know what an abbreviation means. Your judges shouldn't have to ask what an abbreviation stands for because you're wasting your precious interview time to explain.
  • Answer all the questions. When you leave a blank, the person reading your document has no idea if you don't have an answer or if you just simply missed the question. Give some kind of an answer and if something does not apply to you, then just say it does not apply.

Finally, think about your pageant resume will be presented to the judging panel. You should be aware that pageant directors will often create a binder containing a copy of each contestant's resume for each pageant judge. If your director does that, your paperwork is going under the three hole punch. You may lose some content from your paperwork if this happens. If you don't get a set form to fill out, use at least one-inch margins to avoid this issue. 

What tips will make my pageant paperwork stand out?

1. Be yourself

Sometimes the harsh reality of seeing ourselves on paper in black and white can cause us to feel a bit insecure. Maybe our previous accomplishments don't seem quite as special as they did, or we wonder if all of our quirky qualities and interests fit the mold of what a winner looks like. The girls who win pageants possess every imaginable personality type you can think of. Every queen is different and has diverse qualities and preferences that are all their own.

Want to know what three qualities all winners have in common? Click here.

What we want you to know, more than anything about this pageant journey that you're on, is that you must learn to appreciate yourself so much, that you will not be tempted to abandon who you are. Please don't be afraid to stand out, be different and be unique. When it comes to describing yourself; your qualities, talents, experiences and your beliefs, there are no wrong answers.

Don't fall for the trap of trying to fit into what a pageant girl should be. Let's challenge the notion right now, that there is some magic formula that involves you becoming someone you're not. Because we're here to tell you that if you try to be someone else, you will lose every single time. You imitating someone else's personality or style on your paperwork just isn't going to ring true with your panel when you walk in the door. We've seen this mistake many, many times and it is heartbreaking to witness.

Look at it this way: if you cannot love and treasure all of your unique qualities and skills, why in the world would you ever think that a group of judges would? 

Need help telling the judges why you're the best for the job? Check out How to Answer "Why Should You Win This Pageant?" to develop your answer.

2. Be original

Don't be a carbon copy. Judges often see the same things listed over and over on pageant paperwork.

For example, if your pageant wants you to list the people that you most greatly admire, please do not write down your mother! At least ten other contestants are going to put their mom. Think deeper than that. Who do you connect to? Who has inspired you or changed your life profoundly? There are literally thousands of potential women that you could choose, so be sure to pick someone that is original. And, be sure to have a ready answer for the judge if they ask you why you chose that particular person.

Remember, the judges are looking for things that stand out about you. If you put down the exact same things that the other 25 or 50 contestants put down, you're likely not standing out as a front runner.

Want to know how judges score pageants? Click here.

Just to add clarity, here's a whole podcast about how to make yourself stand out from your paperwork:

3. Proofread your paperwork the right way

It is shocking how many contestants never proofread their paperwork! When we talk about proofreading, we're not saying to just read your paperwork over one time. In fact, there are a couple tips of we want you to follow with regard to proofing your resume:

  • If your paperwork is online or in an electronic format, always print out your paperwork and proof it that way. It is incredibly easy to miss spelling errors and other mistakes if you are reading on the computer screen. 
  • Have several people read through your paperwork. That also means that if someone, like a coach or your mom, helped you, you need to have a third person read it as well. Ideally, if you can get somebody who is totally objective to look at your resume, that would be great. A person who is a fresh pair of eyes is more likely to see any mistakes that you've missed.

Now is as good a time as any to remind you that a pageant coach comes in handy for reviewing your pageant paperwork. We recommend finding a pageant coach through the Pageant Coach Directory or using one of Pageant Planet's coaches through the Pageant Prep Program.

Pageant Resume Templates

You always have to remember that every single piece of your paperwork introduces you to the judges before they ever see your actual face or meet you in person. Therefore, your paperwork must be able to represent you accurately and essentially speak for you before you ever open your mouth.

In this section, we’re going to give you some pageant resume examples using templates, which will allow you to arrange your personal information so that the judges can understand you, your pageant application and your platform in the most positive light. But, before we do that, we need to spend some time discussing the correct mindset that you should have when you are filling out all of your paperwork. In order to create a strong resume that will give the judges a favorable picture of you, you have to embrace a certain attitude or mindset.

When preparing to organize and then write your pageant resume, you should always keep in mind two key ideas as you go forward; Pageant Branding and Pageant Interview. These concepts are the overriding themes or ideas that connect each piece of your paperwork. When you understand how these concepts work, you’ll be able to tell the complete story of you.

Do you want to start your pageant interview preparation? Check out our course, "How to Succeed in Pageant Interview" to get started!

Pageant Branding

The term, “brand” or “branding” gets thrown around a lot in today’s social jargon, and no doubt you’ve heard the terms plenty of times. But, do you really have any idea what they mean, particularly when it comes to your pageant goals? 

In answer to that question, most people would say that branding is something that big companies and billion dollar corporations do and that it has a lot to do with logos and advertising and helping them to be financially successful. Although, that answer is not wrong, it’s missing the most important elements of what branding is all about. There can be innumerable aspects to the concept of branding, especially when it comes to business, but the most basic definition is that branding is simply, “what people think about when they think about something.” That’s it!

When it comes to the pageant world, and more importantly to YOU as a contestant, what you know about branding is extremely important to your success. Every single pageant system on the planet has its own brand, and it’s crucial to know and understand what that brand is all about. When you are thinking about your pageant system, what do you think about? Remember our simple definition that branding is “what people think about when they think about something.”

The pageant’s brand is about who they are at the heart of their organization. What do they value? What is important to them? What are their specific immediate and ultimate goals? What qualities, skills sets and characteristics are they attracted to, especially when it comes to people? When you look at the contestants who do well in your pageant, what kind of people are they? Do they talk a lot about education, community service or promoting a specific initiative? Do they put a lot of emphasis on fashion, beauty or personal expression? Are they glamorously exciting, over the top and sensational in how they present themselves?  Or, is the vibe more low-key, serious and down to earth? 

If you take some time to study the pageant that you’re competing in, as well as the entire pageant system that the pageant is a part of, you will begin to piece together all those elements that make up their brand.

The reason that understanding a pageant’s brand is so vital to your success is because you must know that you are the kind of person that they are looking for, and that they are the kind of pageant that you want to be associated with.

If you want to win a crown in the system that you’re competing in, then you must demonstrate that you have the same interest in the things that the pageant does. You have to show the judges that you have the skill set, qualities and ambition to lead their marketing campaigns and attract potential contestants and sponsors. You must essentially embrace and identify with everything that your pageant stands for because your job is to be a salesperson for all that they value and promote. Therefore, on a practical level, when it comes to your pageant paperwork, understanding your pageant's brand lets you know what personal information to focus on and what to leave off. Most importantly, when you look at your resume through the context of the pageant’s brand, you will be better able to tailor your personal information in a way that makes you stand out from all of the other contestants.

If pageant branding is new to you, you might be entering your very first pageant. If that's the case, we recommend reading 101 Pageant Tips (For First Time Contestants)!

Mrs. New Hampshire America 2019 Rebecca Whittle rocks her interview. Photo: Rhonda Gilliam

Pageant Interview

Another major aspect of your pageant resume is that it sets the stage for your pageant interview, so be strategic and plan to have a positive interview ahead of time. Remember, the judges are looking for a leader and they’re going to use your bio as the main resource for the interview questions in trying to find that leader… give them what they’re looking for! Your pageant resume is where they are going to pull all of their potential questions from, so you want to not only give them subject matter that makes for a good interview, but you also want to lead them in the direction that YOU wish them to go. It’s kind of like dropping bread crumbs for them to follow, so that they will be more likely to ask you the questions that you want to be asked. 

Want to prepare for potential interview questions? Check out the Top 25 Pageant Interview Questions Asked by Judges (In Every Pageant)!

As you are organizing your personal information, you want to be strategic about how you do it. There are a couple of very useful techniques that you can use when you are creating your resume that will help you to have a better pageant interview.

  1. Choose 3 topics or key areas of interest that you want the judges to ask you about, and then craft your information in such a way that they will be intrigued enough to ask you questions about those areas. These three areas can be anything at all. They just need to be the things that you believe demonstrate that you are the perfect person for the job. This technique works very well if your personal interests and experience are tied to some of the pageant’s key goals or values. 
    Once, you identify the three key areas of interest, then make your resume all about those topics. When you lay out irresistible nuggets of information like that, you make it so easy for the judges to find things to ask you about during your interview. And, the good news for you is that you will be able to light up the room talking about your passion, personal investment and the difference that you have already made all on your own!
     
  2. After you've completed your paperwork, go through the entire document and see if you can pull out questions from the information that you’ve written.  After all, this is exactly what those judges are going to do, so why not anticipate that and do it yourself? You may discover that there is information that you’ve provided that needs to be altered or updated. You may learn that you’ve included information on there that you don’t want to include and you can remove it. After you’ve done this exercise, why not give your resume to a few other people and have them read through it and also come up with a list of questions. You can have people that know you very well do this, and you can also ask those that don’t know you very well, which is actually even more helpful.
     
  3. Study. It is imperative that you know everything on that piece of paper. This is why you must update your paperwork for every single pageant that you compete in, and then proofread it thoroughly. The most embarrassing thing that can happen is that a judge asks you a question about something on your resume and you don’t know what they’re talking about! If your mindset is correct when you create your resume, that should never happen.

Remember, your resume is one of the most powerful tools that you have in your pageant arsenal, so take the time to invest in it and it will serve you well.

Want more information on pageant interview? Start with How to Succeed in Pageant Interview!

Pageant Paperwork Contestant Examples

The ideal pageant paperwork is one in which the judges can get a true sense for who you are before you ever walk into the room. Everything that you include in your paperwork should mesh with your personality and style so that when you show up for interview, it all clicks together. To get a solid understand of what that looks like, we've included a real life pageant fact sheet for you.

In the above example, the paperwork tells you a few things right away:

  1. She's humorous.
  2. She's athletic and/or active.
  3. She's optimistic. 
  4. She values strong female role models.
  5. She likes to travel.

Before ever meeting this contestant, you know a lot about her. When she walks into the interview room, you'll likely have several questions that come to mind just from her paperwork. What's her go-to "roll out" song? Tell me the story behind performing your best friends' wedding ceremony. What is your favorite place that you've explored? 

You know what's absolutely crazy? By perfecting her paperwork, this contestant has controlled the interview before she ever got in the room! The judges will be dying to ask about so many things on her pageant paperwork that they won't have time for hard ball questions. This means she already knows all the answers to the questions that will come. Hello, winning interview. Oh, if you want more interview tips, check out How to Succeed in Pageant Interview.

So right now, as you're working through your pageant paperwork, try this technique. Make a list of three to five things you want your judges to know about you. They could be specific accomplishments or personality traits that you like about yourself. Then, develop answers that fit within what you want to convey to the judges. For example, in our sample paperwork, we know that our contestant is active/athletic. To convey that to the judges, she included that she enjoys skiing, hiking, white water rafting, and beach volleyball. She further accentuates this point by tying the best advice she's ever gotten to taking care of yourself physically. 

Now it's your turn. Try out this method on your paperwork. If you need help filling out your paperwork, you can always find a pageant coach through the Pageant Coach Directory or connect with one of Pageant Planet's coaches through a Pageant Prep program.

Sample Interesting Facts and Bio for a Pageant Resume

Along with our ideal example from above, we wanted to include some sample mistakes and how to fix them. We've included both a sample answer to a question as well as a sample list of accomplishments. Both involve the same issue: they're too long. The contestant's information gets lost in a sea of content. Even the most enthusiatic judges will start to skim if the answers are too long. 

Want to know how judges score pageants? Click here.

Click on each of the photos below to see the full document.

As you can see, it's so easy for judges to gloss over accomplishments and stories you're particularly proud of when you include a lot of content. Which means, you won't get to talk about the things that matter most to you in interview. You're less likely to be in control of the conversation because there's just so much content the judges could ask you about. Want to practice questions not on your resume just in case? We've prepared the 25 Questions Asked by Judges (in Every Pageant) just for you!

When filling out your paperwork, simplify as much as you can. Include only the stand out things about yourself. Also, don't include every detail of a story in your answers. You want to be able to explain and expand your answers in the interview room. If you want more information on how to succeed in pageant interview, start here.

Want someone to look over your paperwork before you submit it? you can always find a pageant coach through the Pageant Coach Directory or connect with one of Pageant Planet's coaches through a Pageant Prep program.

Miss South Dakota 2019 Amber Hulse. Photo: Amber Hulse Instagram

What should I include in my interesting facts?

Some contestants get confused about this particular section of their resume because they don’t quite understand what they’re supposed to include. When you stop and think about it, everything on your pageant paperwork should qualify as “interesting facts,” so when you are about to create this section of your resume, you’re really not doing anything different than you’ve already done so far.

A fact is simply a thing that is known to be consistent with objective reality and can be proven to be true with evidence. So, that means that everything that you write down is true and can be proven. The only other thing you need to do is make sure that your facts are interesting. ‘But how do I know what will be interesting to the judges?”, you ask.

We have found that there are 4 points that always make facts interesting to anyone, but especially to judges in a pageant interview situation.

Want to know how the judges will score you? Start with How Do Judges Score Pageants?

1. Have a purpose and a plan

Your facts will be interesting to the judges when they are interesting to you personally. Don’t make the mistake that a lot of contestants make by thinking that this is a “throw away” exercise. The “Interesting Facts” section is not there just to fill up space on a page. This section is packed with powerful information that is part of your interview arsenal. Always remember that there must be a reason for every piece of information that you write down on your pageant paperwork as it can be asked about during your interview. When selecting your facts, make sure you can tell a story about them or exemplify a character trait of yours.

2. Don’t corroborate, elaborate

When you are selecting your interesting facts, you want to choose items that you can relate back to something positive. If a judge decides to ask you about one of your interesting facts, don’t just nod your head and say that’s its true. Have an interesting story ready to accompany that interesting fact. 

3. Choose facts that highlight you as a winner

The third way that you make sure your facts will be interesting to the judges is to show yourself in a positive light. If at all possible, select facts that will also serve as examples of the personal qualities or skills that demonstrate to the judges that you are a good choice as a titleholder. These would be facts that illustrate that you are comfortable talking to large groups of people, that you’re easy going or that you’re patient or resilient in a specific way.

One way to do this is to draw a line down the center of a piece of paper and list your interesting facts on one side of the paper and on the other side write down any corresponding skills, qualities or personal traits that stand out for each one.

For example, let’s say that you had performed in a summer stock theatre production of Shakespearian plays during college. There are so many skills and qualities that you could pull from that one example. You could talk about how much you enjoyed the challenge of mastering the difficult dialogue while still having to project loudly and clearly to an open air park filled with people. Or, you could discuss how professional and resilient you were because you had to perform in freezing weather. You could even talk about your skills in raising funds for the non-profit theatre or how you improved your marketing or public relations experience by promoting the show at other professional groups.

The point is that every interesting fact about you is rich with possibilities that can showcase all that you have to offer the pageant if you were chosen as the winner.

Don't know what makes someone a pageant winner? Check out 3 Qualities You Need to Win a Pageant.

Miss Preteen International contestants before their interview. Photo: International Pageants

4. Choose facts that make you memorable

The final way to ensure that your facts are interesting is to make them memorable, so just approach this list the same way that you approach your list of hobbies or personal interests. If you recall, we advised you to select things that were memorable and authentic, and the best way to do that is by being uniquely yourself. 

Interesting facts on a pageant resume, almost always fall into one of three categories; unique/unusual, amusing/quirky or remarkable/extraordinary. When you are trying to come up with your list of interesting facts, it can be very helpful to try to categorize them in these ways. Doing this will help you to come up with relatable stories that are full of fascinating and exciting detail. This doesn’t have to be something groundbreaking, just unique and easy for you to talk about.

An amusing or quirky fact is one that is usually something self deprecating, and it requires that you not take yourself too seriously. By revealing this kind of fact, it means that you are willing to be vulnerable and laugh at yourself, which is a stellar trait for a titleholder. A good example of this would be either something you do that is comical, or something that happened to you, like the time you woke up late for class and later discovered that your blouse was inside out the entire time. An amusing fact that makes the judges smile or laugh is always a lot of fun for you and the judges to talk about because it typically breaks the ice or injects a lot of humor into your interview, which the judges appreciate as much as you do, believe it or not. And, if you can get the judges to chuckle or bring a bright spot to their very long and tedious day, then you will be remembered for sure!

A remarkable or extraordinary fact is a one-of-a-kind event or achievement that you’ve experienced, and more than likely it will be something that already stands out to you in your life. It can be something that is tragic, or wonderful or even not all that dramatic at all. For instance, it could be something major like the fact that you underwent surgery as a young child to repair a heart valve issue. Or, it could be a straight forward achievement like the fact that you won the district spelling bee three years in a row. The only thing that we caution you about here is to only put down facts that you can and wish to discuss with a stranger. If something happened to you that is painful, even if you are proud of how far you’ve come, don’t put it down if you cry every time you talk about it. You need to find facts that do not cause you any discomfort to discuss, or that are emotionally neutral. You only want to list things that you can capitalize on, and that showcase you in the best possible light.

If you do have a powerful setback that you would like to share, listen to this podcast on how to turn that setback into a story:

We encourage you to get started on your list of interesting facts by pulling out a piece of paper and a pen, or by opening up a blank Word document on your computer and have a nice old fashioned brainstorming session. When you are creating your pageant paperwork, you’ve got to get comfortable with the process of brainstorming, which is why we use this technique so often. Brainstorming is a very powerful tool when writing your pageant resume because it opens up your creativity and helps to generate all kinds of wonderful possibilities without the risk of your mind judging or censuring your answers before you have a chance to explore them.

If you follow these guidelines, you are sure to not only come up with a fascinating list of facts about yourself, but your confidence will be unshakable during your interview. And, most importantly, your list will be so original and attention grabbing, that it won’t matter how big your pageant is because you’re going to be the girl that stands out! 

Are you preparing for your first pageant? You might want to check out 101 Pageant Tips (For First Time Contestants).

Accomplishments to List for Pageant Paperwork

When it comes to listing your personal accomplishments on your pageant paperwork, it's very easy to get tripped up on thinking that you have to impress the judges. This is quite common because many contestants feel as if they have not achieved anything worthwhile or noteworthy yet - especially new contestants. This may be exactly what you're feeling right now. We get it! 

So, before we discuss how to go about listing your accomplishments on your pageant resume, let's expand our definition of what an accomplishment really is. Many people get confused because they think that accomplishments have to be concrete things like an award or a ribbon that they've won. When in reality, an accomplishment is any significant achievement, and can actually be something that you've given, not just received. It's also important for you to understand that your accomplishments are significant, not because they are worthwhile to someone else, but because they are worthwhile to you. The main point that we want to get across to you as a contestant, is that you have got to get this notion out of your head that you must impress the judges, and if you don't, that they'll just pass you over for a more accomplished candidate.

It's just not true! The judges are not demanding for you to impress them. What they want is to get to know you. The most impressive thing that you can do is to know yourself, and then tell the truth about who you are as a person. All the things that make up who you are; your interests, your goals, your dreams, your passions… all of those things are far more interesting than the trophies and ribbons that you may or may not have earned. It's really quite an easy process, so try not to overthink or over complicate it.

Miss Virginia Collegiate America 2020 Corrine Hilton working on her business. Photo: @missvacollegiate

How to create a list of accomplishments for your pageant resume

Get yourself a piece of paper and something to write with, or pull up a blank document on your computer. You are going to do a brainstorming session. Please do not edit yourself as you are thinking. There are no right or wrong answers at this point. Creating a list of accomplishments for your pageant resume is the same exact procedure that you would take if you were coming up with a list of accomplishments for your employment resume. All you need to do is begin to think about all of the different activities that you've been involved in over the last couple of years. They don't even have to be connected with pageantry or your platform. 

When focusing on your potential accomplishments, instead of thinking of "things" like awards or trophies, think instead of actions that you have taken. Step back and look at all of the different parts of your life from an activity standpoint. The key is not to view accomplishments as items that you have earned, but rather things that you have done, given or contributed in some way.

If you're having trouble, you might want to start out by asking yourself questions like: What have you done?  Where have you been?  What have you participated in?  What have you learned?  How have you contributed?

Then follow the verbs. This is very important. We often think of accomplishments as nouns, but they're not. They are verbs! Here is a list of possible verbs that you can use when coming up with potential accomplishments:

  • Developed
  • Led/Lead
  • Attended
  • Donated
  • Volunteered for
  • Hosted/Co-hosted
  • Guest Speaker
  • Organized
  • Modeled/Spokes model
  • Edited
  • Fundraised
  • Donated
  • Created/Made
  • Advocated for
  • Documented
  • Assisted
  • Produced
  • Gave
  • Engineered
  • Recruited
  • Campaigned
  • Collected
  • Took Charge
  • Enlisted
  • Initiated

These words should help you to hone in on those life experiences that stand out the most. Then once you have come up with as many examples as you can, you want to scale your list down to just the key areas that you wish to focus on in your pageant interview, if you're given the opportunity to discuss them.

Try to limit your list of accomplishments to 10 to 15 items because even the most dedicated pageant judge will begin to gloss over a list that is too long. Try to highlight your most impressive and interesting accomplishments and summarize the rest. Don't worry that your 10 to15 outstanding items will pale in comparison to a list of 50 so-so items. Likely, a judge won't even remember most of them by the time they get to the bottom of the list. The other important reason to limit your accomplishments to a concise few is that a judge will get a much clearer sense of your passions and your mission if they're not overwhelmed by examples.

If you have several examples that have a similar theme, like several different examples about volunteering, then simply combine them into one area of achievement. You can go into specific details of those examples during your interview if the judge asks you about them, or if you find a way to work them into the conversation.

As you're compiling your list of accomplishments, also try to focus on the things that make you stand out as a potential titleholder. There are sure to be some experiences and things that you've accomplished that translate directly to the responsibilities that you would have if you were to win the pageant. Think in terms of those duties and how they might tie in with your own experiences as you are making your list.

And, finally, always keep in mind the points that you want to cover in your interview, as we've discussed before in this guide. Remember that it is your job to lead the interview, and it's your responsibility to find a way to cover the topics that you want to explore with the judges. 

Want to know how the judges will score you? Start with How Do Judges Score Pageants?

Hobbies to List for Pageant Paperwork

Coming up with a list of hobbies or personal interests is typically one of the easier parts of creating pageant paperwork. After all, you know what you enjoy doing in your free time. Most of your interests are pretty cut and dried, so it's not all that complicated. The main point that you want to keep in mind as you are compiling your list of hobbies is to be memorable and authentic. In a group of 25, 50 or 100 contestants, you've got to find a way to stand out.

Be very aware of listing common hobbies that other contestants may put down on their bios. Pageant judges see an incredible amount of repetition. Instead of just listing "volunteering" as a hobby, step back and look at all of your interests. Focus on the ones that you are truly passionate about and that really define you. Include something significant and detailed about your hobby to catch the judges' interest.

Only include those hobbies that you would want to discuss in your pageant interview. It's not necessary to list every single hobby that you've explored in your life. A shorter list of five great hobbies is so much more powerful and effective than a list of 20 that you're half interested in. 

Royal International Miss Copperstate 2020 Samantha Teeter sewing masks. Photo: @rim_miss_copperstate

Even though listing your hobbies is often one of the easiest parts of your pageant bio, we do want to caution you about potential problem areas that do come up from time to time.

Most commonly, contestants question if what they like to do is "right" for a potential titleholder. Some people can get very distracted by their own perception of what they think the judges are looking for, instead of just being true to themselves and being genuinely who they are. This also sometimes happens to people who are nontraditional or who have developed unique or unusual interests.

One pageant coach tells a very interesting story of helping a pageant client with her hobbies list, where this exact thing happened. The coach had asked the client to do a rough draft of her bio and when she read through it, she noticed that the contestant had put a line through one of her hobbies. The contestant's hobby was, "creating peep dioramas and photographing them." When the pageant coach asked the contestant why she had scratched it out, the girl said that she was embarrassed and that she thought it made her look like a weirdo. The coach laughingly told the girl that she thought that was one of the most fascinating hobbies that she had ever seen on a pageant bio and that if she was a judge, that one fact would help her to remember this girl throughout the entire pageant.

That's exactly the kind of response that you want from a judge. When you are trying to stand out from a sea of other attractive and talented pageant contestants, why wouldn't you want the judges to remember you for your unique or unusual hobby? Want more information on how to stand out in interview? Check out How to Succeed in Pageant Interview!

When you've got a one-of-a-kind hobby or interest, it works in your favor because it immediately encourages the judges to associate that hobby with you. Even if they don't ask you about it during your interview, if you make a positive impression on them, they will remember you throughout the rest of the pageant. And, since the interview is most often the first phase of competition, going forward when you are on stage during swimsuit, talent or evening gown, those judges will be looking for the "peep girl" or the "bow hunting girl" or whatever hobby girl you are!

Miss Nevada USA 2020 Victoria Olono getting ready to ski. Photo: @missnvusa

In addition to the fact that your hobbies and personal interests are what make you memorable, they are also the things that make you real. So often, contestants take themselves far too seriously. You should take your pageant preparation and your skills seriously, but you should not get caught up in looking a certain way or trying to be perfect. Don't be afraid to show your sense of humor and demonstrate to the judges that you are a down to earth, relatable person. If you are goofy, then be goofy. If you are a nerd, then be a nerd. The worst thing that you can do during a pageant is to abandon your true nature.

We urge you to continue to be honest throughout this entire process, and that also includes honoring your true self. Please don't allow yourself to fall victim to the trap of trying to be something that you're not. We've seen this phenomenon over and over again, and what we've learned is that the person who wins the pageant is the person who is a winner in her own mind, whether she comes away with the crown or not.

Pageant Paperwork Conclusion

There you have it, everything you need to know about pageant paperwork. By now you should have all the tools you need to create a winning pageant resume. It's time to put them into action and get started on your papwerwork!

Oh, and we have a feeling that if you're reading this guide, you just might be competing in a pageant. If that's the case, here's a list of recommended completely and totally free resources to help you bring home that crown:

Now, it's time to go chase that dream!

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