Preparing federal proposal resumes that will win favor with the customer has been a fun and challenging part of my career for longer than I care to admit. I am sure I have written, edited, and/or reviewed over 20,000 federal proposal resumes on the job. While working for the customer and running a proposal consulting business.
The General Task
In theory, the task of preparing a fine federal proposal resume is simple. Let’s assume the RFP says the person in the position needs to have experience with A, B, C, and D. Then the task of the writer is to edit A, B, C, and D into the resume as much as honestly possible to do. He or she drops a summary of A, B, C, and D in near the top of the first paragraph. If the summary is too long, they can create a second paragraph for this information. Then the specific supporting detail for A, B, C, and D is dropped in the resume paragraphs below wherever it logically belongs.
The desired end result is to create a resume addressing the spec so well that a blind, deaf, and dumb monkey could read the resume and come away saying, yes, this person would be great to do our job.
How Long does it Take to Create a Federal Proposal Resume?
I will never forget working on proposal resumes at my last job before going into business. My boss was this retired general. And he had a strong belief that a proposal resume could be prepared in 30 minutes. So, I literally had to go hide in order to have the time needed to prepare a resume that would score high points with the Government proposal reviewers.
I was shocked to learn that it often takes six to eight hours to prepare a high-quality federal proposal resume. This is because the writer has to work back and forth with the subject person, doing whatever is necessary to convert the resume into a winner. So the first problem is finding the person and working around their schedule, which may involve evening work. Since some people either don’t have the time or don’t know how to write, this may involve the writer interviewing and personally doing the rewrites. Or for people with normal writing skills, providing specific guidance, and then iterating the resume back and forth until it is fixed.
You find that about one resume in 20 is close enough to the RFP spec to be fixed in a short time. However, given average field conditions, properly editing a proposal resume usually takes four or five hours. I will never forget an assignment in which our company had to edit 400 resumes to go in a large proposal. The writers were given only three hours each to do the work. And I feared for the product.
Learning to do Federal Proposal Resumes
Normally, any proposal tech writer can do resumes. However, once an individual has done 40 or 50, the job becomes faster and more professional. It is typically not a heavy lift for a junior writer to learn to prepare strong federal proposal resumes. Once they have done 100 or 200, they are flying like the space plane. Given good candidates, there is no reason not to prepare high-scoring resumes. Unless your boss will only give you 30 minutes each of prep time. Here are some more tips on preparing winning federal proposal resumes.