Why is bid writing such a unique career choice?

Illustration of a man considering a career as a bid writer. He is looking at various icons that represent the unique aspects of bid writing e.g. hourglass, pencil, paper and puzzle pieces.

What is bid writing?

Every day, thousands of companies around the world create and submit tender responses (bids) to win or retain contracts. On the surface, bid writing seems easy: you fill out some forms, answer some questions, work out your price and submit. Simple, right?

The truth is, it’s much more involved than it first appears. Bid writers are required to respond to tightly prescribed schedules, each with a structure and focus defined by the buying organisation. This sees bid writers developing management plans, composing methodologies, and explaining approaches to topics like safety management, sustainability and ethical sourcing.

Bid writers often work with unfamiliar content. They rely on subject matter experts (SMEs) to contribute technical expertise, and then incorporate that into a response that is first of all compliant, but also logically structured, painless to navigate, easy to read and simple to evaluate.

Ultimately, the goal of a professional bid writer is to convince the buyer to pick their organisation over the other choices in the market. Bid writing is a unique, specialised and competitive profession. Although often in the background, it plays a vital role in the work-winning endeavours of almost every organisation operating in a competitive sourcing environment.

Why is bid writing different to other forms of writing?

Every day, a wide variety of writing styles are used to communicate with us. We’re marketed to through advertising copy, instructed by technical documentation and lead through narratives in journalism, novels and visual media. But bid writing is very different.

On the surface, bid writing seems similar to copywriting in a marketing team. But marketing typically involves writing ‘one-to-many’ as you try to capture the attention of a large, set audience. In contrast, bid writing is much more of a ’one-to-one’ style and involves crafting a longer document that’s as specific and targeted to a single buyer as possible.

And unlike technical reports or academic writing where the reader expects the use of jargon, a bid writer needs to write in a simple and concise style so that the content can be easily understood by evaluators. Although it’s true that many tender responses do contain a lot of specialised technical content, a good bid writer interprets, simplifies and incorporates these inputs into an easily readable, highly persuasive response document.

Furthermore, bids have a shorter and far less public shelf life than most other forms of writing. In fact, once a winning submission has been chosen and the contract awarded, the winning proposal is often just filed away. Rather than being shared and re-read, a bid writer’s finished product is a confidential document, viewed by a few key people and only ‘living’ for the brief period between submission and award.

What makes a good bid writer?

Good bid writers are great storytellers. In every bid, they skilfully guide evaluators through a persuasive ‘Story to Win’ which is carefully constructed to set their proposed solution apart from competitors in ways that matter to the buyer.

A good bid writer won’t begin without first establishing their unique leading win theme. Using persuasive writing skills, this win theme is woven throughout the bid using key messages to reinforce why their solution is the best choice.

A good bid writer lives in the world of the buyer. Too often, capable suppliers lose opportunities due to tender submissions that are all about them. When composing a submission, a good bid writer demonstrates customer focus, speaking directly to the buyer’s motivators, fears and values. An empathetic perspective establishes trust by showing that you understand the buyer’s pain points more than your competitors do, and that you have a solution that squarely meets those needs.

A good bid writer also communicates their proposed solution in a clear and concise way, making it easy for the evaluator to understand. Writing clearly in a logical and easy-to-follow structure goes a long way towards winning. Clear and concise writing makes it easy for evaluators to comprehend your offer the first time they read it. It also sends a secondary message that working with your organisation will be similarly straightforward if you win.

A good bid writer does all this while at the same time engaging an impressive range of consulting skills. These include managing stakeholder and SME relationships, setting expectations, resolving differences of opinion and keeping things on track to meet the submission deadline with as little stress as possible.

Bid writing clearly requires a unique set of skills, but one of the biggest challenges is that most people haven’t been taught these skills. And relying on existing skill sets learnt from other professions and for other purposes won’t always be enough.

How do you become a professional bid writer?

Bid writing is a rewarding and prosperous career choice. Bid writers are at the front line of generating new business and income – meaning they play a hugely impactful role in any organisation.

But unlike other careers that might begin with a university degree, there is no formally defined path to success in this field.

Global industry body the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) does set industry-recognised benchmarks for bidding competency through their certification program. Earning an APMP certification demonstrates that your knowledge of best practice bidding is aligned with other bid professionals all around the world.

But what about the tangible, practical skills required to create submissions that score highly and win tendered work? Such a niche skill set is difficult to master, especially when you don’t know where to start.

Thankfully, there are plenty of bid consulting organisations who share their expertise through training. However, because learning this unique craft requires a commitment of time and money, choosing carefully makes all the difference.

Look before you leap

When shopping for tender training that’ll set you on the path to a fruitful bid writing career, look for courses that:

  • are created and delivered by experienced, APMP-certified professionals (and even better, provide live opportunities to ask them questions or get their feedback)
  • are tailored specifically to the career stage you are at
  • make it easy to decipher the right option to meet your needs and interests
  • are comprehensive enough to make your learning meaningful, but are delivered in a flexible enough format to fit into your busy life
  • provide opportunities to learn and reflect alongside a community of like-minded peers.

But don’t just take our word for it. Before developing our courses, we did the research to ensure they were based on the latest thinking in effective adult professional learning. For a summary of our findings, check out our blog – Tender Training Courses: Five features that maximise knowledge retention and learning outcomes.

We look forward to welcoming you to our profession

Maybe we’re a bit biased, but we can’t recommend a bid writing career highly enough. It provides a tonne of variety, dynamic career opportunities, transferrable knowledge, and a healthy salary.

Best of all, businesses will always need to win work. And because bid writing is so specialised, employers often struggle to find and retain talent, which means good bid writers are always in demand!

If you think this could be your future, we’d love to help you get started.

If you’re serious about starting (or excelling in) your bid writing career, our Certified Bid Writer program will teach you the specialised knowledge, skills and techniques to thrive in this profession. With nine modules delivered over ten weeks, this flexible, comprehensive program is the first of its kind in the international tender training market.


Businessman using a calculator and taking notes to define key bid metrics for tendering

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