Earlier this week I was kindly invited by Rick Harris to talk to APMP Members about what’s happening in the bid recruitment world and how job hunting has been affected by Covid-19. I enjoyed the discussion with Rick (link to the webinar is in the comments below) but there were many questions that we simply couldn’t squeeze in to the 30-minute session.
Much of what we discussed has implications for the entire profession (not just APMP members), and in the interests of helping as many people as possible secure new roles in challenging times, I wanted to share some of the key trends we are experiencing. I hope you can put this information to use when looking for your next role.
How have the job search rules changed because of the pandemic?
Competition for bid and proposal jobs is as fierce as we’ve ever seen it. The job market has completely flipped from a candidate driven market to a client driven one. Many candidates had the luxury of choice prior to Covid-19 and clients needed to work hard to secure their preferred candidates. Be warned, the tables have turned – we haven’t experienced this type of market since the global financial crisis of 2008.
The implications of this if you’re a candidate? You must be on your ‘A’ game at every stage of the process. Your CV needs to elevate you above the crowd and you absolutely must practice what you preach in our daily profession – any job application must be client focussed. Your CV shouldn’t be focussed on ‘I’, it should on focussed on ‘what I will do for you’.
We see the market requesting more specialist bid skills. Generalists need to be mindful of this shift. In many markets, it’s no longer enough to just be a good all-rounder – most employers want either industry niche or specialist bid, proposal or capture skills.
One positive throughout the pandemic has been the continued strength of the Contract / Freelance market. Whilst not at its peak, it certainly hasn’t been as badly affected as the permanent market. We are in regular contact with our 800 contractors and very few are struggling to find work.
Hiring companies now know they are in a position of strength when it comes to negotiating salary so be ready to fight your corner – have your numbers worked out ahead of any final interview so you can bring it back to a level playing field. As a recruiter, we typically act as a broker on salary negotiations, but such is the impact of the pandemic, we are seeing clients wanting to negotiate with candidates directly over salary in final interview.
With most interviews now conducted via video, there has been some confusion over formality. Some clients still expect formal dress and very structured interviews. Others are much more casual. Since it is difficult to reverse a first impression, I would always play it safe with a minimum of business-casual attire. If you are one of those people that believe your presence in the room is a key selling point, you need to think about how you recreate that with a video interface.
What can you do to prepare for your next search?
Be very clear on what you want from your next role – scatter gunning will simply not work in a client driven market.
You must start with a plan. Really think through what your ideal next role would be. Think about salary, industry, the type of manager you perform best with, location, working conditions, hours, the training you need. Many people only start to answer these questions by attending lots of unnecessary interviews.
Decide if you want to work with a team or organisation that follows APMP best practice and be aware that many organisations have alternative practices where you might need to adapt what you have learned.
Try not to get hung up on job titles – you need to look beyond them and really understand the roles and responsibilities. Our last salary survey reported 334 different job title variations so the chances are, you might be missing relevant opportunities.
Whilst some disagree with me, I don’t believe you should be afraid to change your current job title on your CV to match the job you are applying for, if the roles and responsibilities are a match. We are seeing good candidates rejected at the first hurdle because hiring teams skim read headers looking for an easy match. Just because your current employer has a particular naming convention for your role, it shouldn’t restrict your career.
Follow all your target employers via their social channels and get involved in their conversation. Showing a genuine interest really does make a difference. Connect with relevant people on LinkedIn and show a desire to work for an individual you respect and / or your company of choice. I often feel doing these basic things is the equivalent of an old-fashioned cover letter.
Do not be afraid to say you have been made redundant or have a gap on your CV because of COVID. There should be no stigma attached to this. Many people experience redundancy during their careers and it rarely reflects on an individual performing poorly, more that the organization got its market strategy wrong.
Strategies and steps to guide you along the way
Now, more than ever, people must be prepared for the unexpected. You must be able to deal with ambiguity at every stage of the recruitment process. Changing jobs involves getting out of your comfort zone. In a pandemic, it generally puts people straight into their stretch zone.
Why work with a recruitment firm?
We develop relationships with our candidates that last for years, if not decades. We get beneath the CV into what motivates someone, what culture they will succeed in and what else they want from their next move and longer career. We typically work with candidates multiple times and truly help them build their career. People trust us to approach them with a career move because we have developed a relationship.
We often play a pivotal role as a negotiator, brokering a deal that would otherwise be uncomfortable to agree with a prospective employer.
In terms of the day-to-day service we offer, we have been providing lots more coaching on CVs, and generally being a sympathetic ear – lots of our profession are really fearful right now and when you combine that with the isolation of lockdown, it can be a very difficult time for many people.
Are you being audacious in your approach to proposals right now? Might your competition be more daring? Jon Williams article in BQ9 discusses how an audacious approach to ‘playing’ the rules allowed a low budget film to top the US movie charts last year. He examines why it is so important to be more audacious in these challenging times and reminds us that proposals are the job protection and creation engine for many organisations.
As the movie Unsubscribe demonstrated, the world’s very different now than it was twelve months ago. ‘Normal’ is a thing of the past. Change may be forced on you – or you could seize control.
You can read the full article here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/bidding-quarterly/issue-9/unsubscribe-and-the-need-for-audacity/
Bid Solutions is excited to invite you to the premier global online summit for bid, proposal, tender and capture professionals.
This online mega-event consists of 30+ live presentations, a virtual networking lounge and an extensive exhibit hall with virtual booths from 20+ exhibitors. This is a truly global event with opportunities to learn best practices, industry trends and receive updates from leading experts in our profession. Bid Solutions is proud to be a sponsor of this event.
Three time tracks for Asia-Pacific, Europe/Africa and the Americas, covering 12 time zones.
30+ best practice live presentations from proposal experts and industry leaders such as:
Andy Bounds: Award-winning Communication and Sales Expert, best-selling Author and International Speaker
Dick Eassom: ‘Mr. Wordman’
Mike Parkinson: Graphics Guru, Proposal Professional, Author, Speaker and Trainer
Chris Kälin: Award-winning Proposal Expert, Author, Speaker
Larissa Cornelius: South Africa’s leading Win Strategist and Bid Enthusiast
Nigel Dennis: Australia’s most qualified and experienced bid consultant
Mihir Koltharkar: ‘Mr. Sales’, India’s No.1 B2B Sales and Negotiation Training Professional, Author
… and Pippa Birch (UK), Patrick Güth (Germany), Mark Riley (Australia) and many more.
Complete access to all recordings regardless of the track for all delegates.
Access to the virtual exhibition hall, with showcases and live interaction with 20+ exhibitors.
Access to the virtual networking lounge to interact with your colleagues worldwide.
Date: September 9/10/11, 2020. For full details visit www.bid-summit.com
At approximately one tenth the cost of standard industry conferences, it represents unbelievable value and a fantastic learning opportunity. Group discounts apply. For corporate tickets (20+ tickets) click here.
We look forward to welcoming you to our Virtual Booth in September.
The list of awards held by Bid Solutions’ Team of Experts just got a little longer this week. Huge congratulations to Jon Williams and Jeremy Brim who were both recognised by the APMP.
Jon was presented with the William C. McRae Founder’s Award, the highest honour in the proposal profession, in an online ceremony from the States as part of APMP’s global awards week. Jeremy’s business the bid toolkit won Vendor of the Year.
If you have a question for Jon or Jeremy, or indeed any one of our 25 Bid & Proposal Experts, you can ask it here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/bid-hub/ask-the-expert/
The Bidding Quarterly Team has been awarded the Strategic Proposals Team of the Year Award for 2019. A huge thank you goes out to Jon Williams and the Strategic Proposals team for recognising the fantastic contributions from all the BQ experts. I’m genuinely delighted for each and everyone of them because this truly is a team award. Without their honest, funny, informed and truly insightful articles, BQ wouldn’t be what it is.
There are now over 1,000 bid and proposal contractors, consultants and freelancers delivering services in the UK. Having passed this milestone, it felt like an appropriate time to dig beneath the surface and find out exactly what life is like for those that made the transition – mostly from permanent employment.
The contract market has experienced significant growth in the past five years. Whilst there are more options than ever for clients, there has never been a greater need to audit the credentials of those engaged.
The advice provided in BQ7 is the most comprehensive we have ever pulled together. This is supplemented with the key findings from the largest ever contractor survey we completed over the summer.
Mel Mae Smith (UK APMP Chair) kindly agreed to be ‘In the Spotlight’. Having voiced my concerns about APMP International in BQ5, I was keen to listen to what she had to say on a wide range of subjects. She talks passionately about the benefits of joining APMP and the soon to be released ‘speciality’ certifications.
We also have fabulous articles from our regular BQ experts. Holger Garden presents three core questions that helped him develop a successful business. Jon Williams provides some great insight on succeeding outside of the ‘corporate’ world, whilst Andy Haigh talks openly about why redundancy can be a blessing in disguise.
Nigel Hudson – candid as always – talks about the importance of making hay while the sun shines and Pippa Birch provides a great list of ideas to keep contractors on their toes. Finally, Kathryn Potter talks about the importance of family and staying motivated.
Changes to IR35 legislation are just around the corner and feature heavily in much of our experts’ thinking. Whilst we attempt to get to grips with the basics of these changes, the question on most freelancers’ lips anxiously remains: “Will HMRC and my clients deem me a contractor OR an employee after April 2020?”
The APMP UK 2019 “Coming of Age” Conference is now just a few weeks away. We are really proud to be sponsoring the Best Newcomer Award and look forward to announcing the winner at the Black-Tie Dinner. This will be our 17th consecutive year of attending the UK Conference and supporting APMP UK. Please come and say hello – we will have an exhibitor stand where you can try your hand at Bid Roulette and pick up the latest copy of Bidding Quarterly.
More information can be found here: https://apmpuk.zohobackstage.eu/apmpukcon2019#/?lang=en
Should your proposals incorporate supplier branding, buyer branding, or both?
Our Deal Management Expert, Alison Gurd has been posed this question via our Ask the Expert forum and offers her guidance on the matter.
To view Alison’s response, click here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/questions/how-should-you-brand-your-proposal-documentation/
To access the forum and pose a question to one of our 20 Experts, click here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/bid-hub/ask-the-expert/
Whilst canvassing ideas for Issue 6, we were overwhelmed by the energy and passion our experts showed for a variety of different subjects. Rather than stifle this, we decided to remove the shackles and let our experts run free. The only request? Write about something you are truly passionate about right now in the bid and proposal profession.
Once again, we have a fantastic range of articles covering everything from becoming a doctor to Excel modelling. In our biggest issue yet, there is advice on effective knowledge sharing, writing proactive proposals, client focussed innovation, creating high scoring answers and even the odd rant about challenging procurement rules.
We have been truly humbled by all the positive feedback from the first five issues – but BQ will be changing soon. Moving forward, we will develop industry focus groups, provide opportunities to submit white papers, sponsor key industry and professional research whilst still providing honest, unbiased opinion on subjects that matter most to you.
If you have genuine bid or proposal expertise in a particular field or industry, or believe you have a unique approach to winning business, I’d love to hear from you – the panel and BQ wants you!
As a Bid Writer, do you feel that win rate is not an appropriate method to measure success? If so, what other metrics would you use?
Our Deal Management Expert, Alison Gurd has been posed this question via our Ask the Expert forum and offers up a viable alternative.
To view Alison’s response, click here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/questions/ask-the-expert-performance-management/
To access the forum and pose a question to one of our 20 Experts, click here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/bid-hub/ask-the-expert/