What is a Bid Writer?
There’s something young people aren’t taught at school. Most must find it out for themselves. Personal finance? Relationships? Parenting? OK, there are lots of things young people aren’t taught at school, but here we’re talking about careers. Most people know about mainstream career choices such as becoming a doctor, teacher, plumber or administrator. It’s only when you have been employed for a while that you realise just how many job titles and career paths exist.
One job title which is becoming increasingly recognised across business is the role of ‘bid writer’. Sometimes referred to as ‘proposal writer’, ‘tender writer’ or variations thereof (replace ‘writer’ with ‘coordinator’, ‘manager’ etc. as required), bid writers are becoming increasingly valued as professionals in their own right.
What is a bid writer’s actual work?
According to the National Careers Service “Bid writers prepare documents used to pitch for contracts to provide services, or to apply for project funding.” This is a decent start to understanding the role, but in reality it involves much more than this. Research, creative writing, competitor analysis, business development, documentation control, graphic design, documentation presentation and technical writing are all part of the ride.
A bid writer produces written responses to requests for proposals (RFP), requests for quotations (RFQ), invitations to tender (ITT), pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ) and other opportunities for companies to win contracts or secure funding. The bid writer is responsible for writing compelling responses that fully answer the questions issued in a RFP, ITT, PQQ or funding application, highlight the unique selling points of a company and their proposal and score highly against the evaluation criteria.
Who do bid writers work for?
According to UCAS “you may write for your own company, or work for a specialist organisation writing bids for other people. You could work for a wide range of industries and services, from construction to healthcare. You may bid for funding for a charity project or to provide money for university or medical research.”
Many companies now directly employ bid writers to help them win new contracts and retain existing contracts. Some companies prefer to outsource their bid writing functions to bid writing consultants. Bid writers can therefore work in-house, within a bid writing consultancy or as a freelance bid writer.
What skills do bid writers need?
UK bid writers must have excellent English writing skills. This includes a good understanding of grammar including punctuation. Bid writers must be able to write using clear and simple language. Bid writers must also be able to construct sentences and paragraphs in a way which lead the reader through a response in a logical and coherent manner.
Bid writers need to be able to obtain information from subject matter experts (SMEs), understand that information and then use it to write high scoring bid submissions. Bid writers also need to know when the information provided by SMEs is not of the required quality and be able to liaise with them and others to identify specific additional information that is required.
UK Bid Writers therefore need skills in:
- English language.
- Creative writing.
- Persuasive writing.
- Project management.
- Time management.
- Business development.
- Accepting constructive criticism.
What is a bid writer’s working environment like?
Bid writing can be a very rewarding profession. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of writing an excellent bid that captures all the unique selling points, differentiators, and added value of a proposal. Then, when your tender wins and the company you represent is awarded a contract or funding, expect feelings of euphoria!
When bid writers win a tender it can feel like scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final. When you lose however, you can feel like the goalkeeper who has let the ball run through their legs. Not every tender can win and when that happens it’s tough. Bid writers go through feelings of disappointment, rejection and self-doubt. Good mental health is therefore essential for bid writers and they should ensure they balance working at their desks with exercise, the great outdoors, family, friends and healthy living.
Bid writers must work to tight deadlines and be able to multi-task, work on multiple projects at once and be flexible. There are very few bid writers who don’t have tales to tell of working until the early hours to meet the deadline of a particular challenging tender.
On the other hand, bid writers can work flexibly from home and at hours that suit them (within reason!).
It’s not a profession that’s suitable for everyone, but for those who can handle the pressure, deadlines, constructive criticism, competition and the external scored evaluation of each bid you write, it can be very rewarding.
What is a bid writer’s salary?
Starting salaries range from £20,000 to £25,000. Experienced and successful bid writers can earn up to £70,000 depending on the sector.
What’s the future of bid writing as a profession?
The bid writer role is now being recognised as a viable career path. More young people in the UK are being attracted to junior bid writing roles and the number of training and accreditations available for bid writers is increasing. This is in no small part due to the efforts of APMP UK, the UK chapter of the Association of Bid Proposal Management Professionals (APMP).
The advice provided on the APMP UK, UCAS and National Career Service websites all help to answer the question of “what is a bid writer?” and guide people to make better choices about the career options available to them.
“What job do you want to do when you leave school / college / university” is a question that young people are frequently asked. I wonder how many teachers, careers advisors and parents have ever heard “bid writer” in response. I’ll stick my neck out here and wager none! Perhaps with the increasing kudos associated with bid writing as a specific career path, this may be about to change. Perhaps we’ll hear less of ‘what is a bid writer’ and more of ‘I want to be a bid writer’. The future of bid writing as a profession is looking brighter than ever before.
‘What is a bid writer?’ is an information article published by BFT Consult Limited. Copyright is held by BFT Consult Limited and reproduction is permitted so long as the original source is references and a link to this article is included.
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