by Lewie Miller
Graduating can be both exciting and frustrating. Usually when completing studies, graduates have spent some time researching the job market to get an idea of the jobs that will be available to them once they complete their studies. Finding the right role that will enable them to apply the knowledge they have amassed throughout their education isn’t always easy.
So many graduate jobs are limited to a specific area of interest. Choosing one career path can so often mean new entrants into the jobs market picking one set of interest to exercise in their professional lives. Tough decisions must be made when it comes to the realisation that those dream finance jobs aren’t just going to land in their laps upon graduating.
Although the finance industry can offer many diverse opportunities, many often find themselves working in a completely different field. What if you could work in the field that you’ve been studying in, but in a role totally different to what you might have imagined working towards when your studies began? What many don’t realise is that the request for proposal (RFP)/proposal writer role is one to strongly consider.
Unique from many other entry-level positions, RFP/proposal writing gives the employee a 360-degree view of a company’s business, products and services, while also allowing them to hone writing and communication skills. This makes it a valuable first job that not only builds skills vital to business success; it also is a rewarding long-term career and suitable for different skillsets.
The fast track route
Thanks to the nature of the job, in a short time proposal writers learn more about their organisation and industry than those who spend years in their roles.
Proposal team members are responsible for working with subject matter experts (SMEs) across the organisation to gather the most relevant and up-to-date information to include in RFPs and proposals. Thus, they are exposed to the deal making process that is critical to winning new business, allowing them to gain expertise over a shorter amount time than in the majority of other roles.
Proposal writers quickly gain exposure to senior management. Not only are they in close contact with senior management executives across the organisation, they have direct access to vice president (VP) and director-level executives who are involved in the RFP process, opening the door to a number of opportunities.
For example, a junior proposal writer has the unique opportunity to build relationships and prove his/her worth to the decision makers at her company while their peers at other organisations might be stuck in entry-level jobs without any access to the executive team.
A graduate’s work will have a significant impact on the organisation’s bottom line. This is rare for an entry-level position, but proposal team members are knee-deep in creating the documents critical to winning multi-million-dollar deals, which can lead to higher job satisfaction and inspire individuals to continue long careers in this role.
Other times, proposal team members choose different career paths. For example a project manager at our own company is a former proposal manager for a financial services firm, where he worked on multi-million-dollar proposals – when his peers at other organisations were working on much less meaningful projects.
While he knew that he did not want to be a proposal manager for the entirety of his career, he did see the value in staying in the position for more than four years. From there, he could take his immense product and customer knowledge to a more senior-level position at a major financial services group – as a business integration consultant – and then ultimately joined us as a project manager.
Other employees who start off as proposal team members decide to make a career of it. For example one of our customers, who began her career as a proposal writer, is now the content manager for an entire financial services organisation where she is responsible for more than 10,000 records of how the company presents itself to the industry.
It’s both a career path and a career. Company and industry expertise, senior-level face time, and having a hand in driving revenue all translate into setting up proposal managers to succeed in many different roles with a company. While many will – and should – make a career out of proposal writing, after several years in the job employees are well qualified for other roles in marketing, sales, consulting, training, content management, and operations, among others.
Whether looking to build a CV or start a lifelong career, proposal writing is a great position to hold.