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How to Approach Your Job Search Like a Tender

I spent 10 years at KPMG in the UK as a bid manager. I have always loved developing a winning value proposition that is tailored to the specific needs of the client and driving those key messages right the way through all stages of the tender process. 

Having written resumes, both for tender documentation and for job applications for some time now, I have found that there are many similarities between a bid and a job application. Here is my take on how you can use your ‘bid’ experience when searching for a new role:

Go / No Go: You’ve seen the job advert and read the job description. In your head, you have ‘ticked off’ all the requirements, ‘I’ve done X; I’ve not done Y, but I’ve done Z which was similar’. You weigh it up and decide that the role sounds perfect for you and that you will apply for it (or not!).

Action: Whilst you’re checking off in your head, write down any examples of your experience against the job description that spring to mind. 

Kick Off: Do your research! Find out everything you can about the company, the culture, the competitors. Identify what issues are facing the company. Do a SWOT, PEST, 5 Forces if it will help (especially if it’s an executive level role). Find out what’s been in the news recently. Why has the need for this job arose? Who are the decision makers and what are their drivers? Does anyone know them or have a relationship with them that you can use to your advantage?

Action: Check their website, social media accounts and run a Google search. Check LinkedIn to see if you or anyone you know has a connection or relationship that you can leverage. Check who did the role before – is there any more information on their LinkedIn profile? Use sites like GlassDoor to check for reviews. Does it sound like a company you would like to work at?  

Site Visits: You might think this process is about you – but it isn’t! This is all about THEM. Start with their issues and their requirements. Demonstrate what you will do to address those issues, how you will do it and how you will measure it. Whilst you’re not going to actually be going out to see them at this point, this is where you need to start thinking about your ‘value proposition’ - how does what you are offering match what they are looking for? 

Action: Go through the job description and highlight all the key information – you need to make sure that you don’t miss anything, or you’ll be eliminated before you even get started. Do you tick all the boxes? What is the pain point that the creation of this role will address? If you can figure that out, you can keep it in mind when you write your opening statement. 

Document: This is where the fun begins. Your resume is a marketing document first and foremost. It is NOT a job description with a list of ‘day to day tasks’. You could send out 100 bland, generic tender documents and get zero responses back, or you could send 1 completely tailored document and win a huge contract. The same goes for your resume. Every section of your resume must be written with the employer in mind. You need to demonstrate VALUE ADDED. 

  1. What are they looking for? List the overall areas that you will be responsible for (competencies). These often cover areas such as Strategy; Leadership & Management; Finance; Planning & Organisation; Communication; Stakeholder Management. Make sure the ones you select are relevant for the role you are applying for.

  2. For each of these competencies (and for each of your jobs), chose an example of where you have demonstrated this competency in the format Situation | Action | Result. Tell me a (brief) story. What you did, how you did it and what did you achieve?

  3. Summarise each of these examples into a 2-line bullet point for your resume! Make sure you incorporate the keywords from the job description.

Action: Tell me your deliverables for every example. Almost everyone struggles with this, but how did you measure your success and progress when you were working on the project or job? Think ‘performance review’. Did you save $X amount. Did you increase productivity by X%? 

Dry Run: Review examples of questions you may be asked. Write down a list of questions you would like to ask (you may well have a fair few if you’ve done your research). 

Action: Get a trusted friend to run through Q&A – practice makes perfect. 

Presentation: The really good news is that you have already done your preparation for this, if you’ve followed the steps above. You will already have a multitude of examples, facts and figures to wow your interviewer. 

Action: Re-visit your research. Be clear about why you are the best person for this role. Prepare your outfit the night before. Plan your route. Brush up on your body language skills. It is normal to be nervous, but if you are prone to sweaty hands, be prepared for the handshake with some tissues or hand sanitiser. 

Debrief: Take a breath – it’s over! Sit yourself down with a brew and think about how you did. Could your answers be improved? Did any questions surprise you? What did you do well? What could you do better next time? 

Action: Follow up your interview with a thank you email or letter. It’s just good manners. 

Yes, this seems like a lot of hard work – and it is! Not only that, you need to do this for every job you apply for (though when you’ve done it once, it won’t be such a huge task!). That said, this is your future and if you want it enough, you will see the time spent as a positive investment. 

Good Luck!


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