The process of selecting and hiring bid professionals is changing, both in how organisations are attracting candidates, and the selection process itself. The last 5 years have seen significant developments in this regard.
The recruitment market for bid professionals is more competitive than ever and as such, hiring organisations are having to sell themselves just as much as candidates are. This makes sense, after all it is an ‘inter’ view; so it should be reciprocal. Flexible working is a great example of this. Organisations that offer flexible working arrangements can attract the best talent in the market and we appear to be moving away from the traditional 5-day week in the office. When you are not limited by office location, you can widen the net significantly to ensure you hire based on skills, rather than who is available locally.
We see an increasing number of in-house teams taking control of the recruitment process. The rise of LinkedIn over the past 5 years means that anyone can now reach a global audience of professionals within specialist markets. It has become one of the most powerful recruitment tools available. The only danger is developing an over-reliance on it and hoping someone will see your advert and apply. I believe that when recruiting you need someone proactively managing the process that understands what you are looking for, otherwise you are relying on hope as your main strategy.
The interview process is evolving too. There is a growing acknowledgement that spending too long on interviews (7 stage interview processes in some instances) will cause you to miss out on candidates to quicker decision-makers. We have seen the flip side too, where candidates are hired after 1 stage, but this is also not without risk.
Assessments and online testing are becoming more prevalent within interviews. This can take the form of executive summary re-writes, personality and behavioural assessments, proofreading exercises or presentations. I personally believe there is a lot of merit in this kind of testing, so long as it is relevant to the role that is being recruited. For instance, it still feels like there is a shortage of quality bid writers, despite the increased numbers within the profession. We’ve seen a large number of experienced bid professionals fail simple proofreading tests at interviews, which for a profession that relies on selling through a written document, is of great concern.
I believe that the development of an industry-wide bid writing qualification would therefore be greatly welcomed. At present it is possible to undertake a 1 or 2 day course to polish your skills, however a full qualification that is recognised by the Department for Education would hold far greater weight. As it stands, University degrees are often listed as a requirement on job adverts but are rarely an essential criterion. A formal bid writing qualification would change this and would offer a real differentiator for candidate applications.
In my opinion, as the bid profession evolves, the hiring process needs to keep evolving too. For example, for a position that requires virtual management of a team, is there still a need to meet face to face, or do you need to assess their ability to engage ‘virtually’ more than their ‘face to face’ skills? Tailoring your hiring process to your specific role, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, will produce better results and ensure you secure the best fit for your organisation.
This article was written by Ben Hannon.