Preparing a Proposal Consultant Resume

  |  February 28, 2017

The problem of preparing a proposal consultant resume is deep.  And there is a science to it.  I have recently seen consultant resumes from one to 16-pp. long.  The resume is so critical, because it has the power to get the job or lose the job for you.

Length:  A couple of years ago, I personally completed a customer survey designed to assess resume preferences.  First, the customers don’t want to see the 16-pp. behemoth resumes.  They want to see one or two pages.  One customer said, “I read two pages.  And if there are more pages.  Then that is tough.”

Subject Matter:  Many consultants have multiple skills.  An example is a person who has strong skills as both a proposal writer and a proposal manager.  The customers say:  “Let me see one skill.  When a consultant says she can do six things, I just don’t believe it.”

This is counter intuitive.  You would naturally think, if you have four skills, then just prepare one resume, and let the customer pick his skill.  Such is not the case.  Because too many customers are offended when they see a lot of skills.  It is too hard for them to believe.  And they can’t help but ask, “which of those skills is the primary, and which is secondary?”

The down side of this is that consultants who have legitimate multiple skills need to go through the process of creating one resume per skill.  This will avoid the problem of getting routinely rejected for not having a single skill on the resume.

There are exceptions to this rule.  For example, some customers will want a utility player who can do it all – coordinate, manage, write, and illustrate.  In this case it is okay to show all of your skills.

Likewise, when a customer is buying someone to be a winning solution architect, they will expect to see multiple skills that are pertinent.  For example, system architect, price-to-win analyst, and business development.

Here is something that will serve as a simple guide to preparing your overall resume.  Ask yourself, have you told a story that creates an overwhelming case for a reviewer?  If you were the reviewer, would you hire this person?

There is a borderline between too complex and too simple.  It is a value judgment on how simple or complex your resume should be.  Introducing subject matter that shows the depth of your career is what you want.  Using sentences usually not much longer than 16 words.  When consultants use 25 and 35-word sentences, this makes the reviewer ask, will this person use those cumbersome sentences in my proposal?

Use templates for uniformity of style.  The template for your first paragraph includes a few sentences that accurately quantify your experience.  Mr. Jones has fifteen years of experience writing federal proposals mostly for IT systems.  This includes programs valued at $50 – $750 M for an aggregate total of $3.5 billion in wins.  He has helped to prepare over 100 proposals for submission to all DoD services as well as to NIH, DOJ, DOT, PBGC, FFA, and others.  Etc.  Additionally, for your individual proposal paragraphs, use a template for parallel writing.

There is much more that could be said.  But this is enough for one article.


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    Russ Schramm


    Great paper, valuable insight. To the point. Especially for the more experienced consultants, like myself.

    Russ Schramm

    Stephen King

    Excellent article Russell. It reinforces the need to have multiple, skill-specific (and client specific) resumes. One should always be tailoring the resume to the job. Perhaps if you have a template you recommend, you can pass it along.