How to write a winning resume

Companies often undervalue the importance of resumes. This is even though resumes can count for 40% or more of the total proposal evaluation points.

Someone on the proposal team needs to:

1. Always tailor the baseline resume to the agency, program, and customer.  Never use a generic or boilerplate resume.  No one size fits all.

2. Zero in on any RFP sections pertinent to “key” (or essential) personnel. Focus on Sections C, L, and M. Read the Performance Work Statement, Award Fee Plan (if applicable), position descriptions, labor category definitions, and appendices.

3. List key RFP terms and concepts germane to the resume under preparation.

4. Interview each key person to be named in the proposal—preferably face to face.

5. Validate the baseline resume for accuracy and timeliness. Check dates. Be alert for gaps.

6. From a list of key RFP terms, ask which are applicable to the job candidate.

7. Ask the candidate for information not found in the baseline resume. Look for metrics, statistics, specific numbers and dollar amounts, numbers supervised, accomplishments, success stories, first-of-a kind achievements, awards, and commendations.

8. If preparing resumes for more than one person, build a table to track requests and due dates. Make sure references will give a great–not just a good–report card. If in doubt, ASK the reference.

9. Avoid personal rather than professional references. Never list a competitor as a reference. Experience suggests that using an evaluator as a reference can put your customer in a bind.

10. Verify the adequacy, accuracy and timeliness of data for required references. Ensure phone numbers, emails, etc., are correct.

11. A winning resume will always read more like a list of highlights and accomplishments that correspond to what the client is looking for than a mere description job of duties and responsibilities.

12. If the RFP prescribes a specific resume format, use it. This does not mean that the format must be boring. Unless specifically prohibited by the RFP, add some flair. Inject color. Include a photo mug shot. Bold the key words. Add an occasional text box. But do not take liberty with font size and type, margins, and resume page limits.

14. One last thing: Make the candidate accountable. Send the completed resume to the individual. Require he or she review the document for accuracy and sign off that the resume is complete, accurate and ready for submission. File the signed version. You never know when you might need to demonstrate that you were authorized to submit the resume in the first place.

You have now successfully tailored the resume.

– Carol Turpin, formerly with AOC Key Solutions


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