Creating Job Security, Higher Pay, and Development for Federal Proposal Professionals

We got a question from one of our class attendees last week as to how she could expand into other fields in the proposal profession. Where could she grow from a proposal writer? Truthfully, in this field, there is always a way to command higher pay, be more in demand, and ultimately become a more successful professional with a high success record -whether you are an employee or a consultant. Today’s article is about how to go about it – but it is also relevant to you if you run a team of business developers and proposal professionals because this is how you will develop your “regular” BD capability into a high-functioning machine.

The market is getting more competitive – not only for companies competing for the same work, but also for people who help in business development – from strategy to proposals. Greater competition means prices falling, and proposal work becoming commoditized. Proposal professionals narrowly specialized in one field (for example, proposal coordination, proposal management, or desktop publishing), who have always been in high demand, find themselves in less secure positions, getting smaller raises – and if consulting, seeing more gaps between jobs, and not seeing any opportunity to raise their rates.

The ones who will find themselves in consistently higher demand are those who will venture into adjacent fields to maximize their chances to increase capabilities, and with these capabilities, their pay grade.

Take a look at this graphic showing the correlation of demand across the business development lifecycle, and compensation:

There are natural career paths for certain professions:

  • Proposal manager would expand their demand and value by adding a capability of capture management, and perhaps even orals coaching if your customer set uses orals; technical writing, pricing, desktop publishing, and graphics skills would increase a proposal manager’s versatility and value for an all-in-one type of solution which now comes in handy even in large companies.
  • Capture manager would add proposal management or on the other end of the spectrum, business development and even business development strategy.
  • Technical writer should consider proposal coordination and proposal management as a career path if they are comfortable with higher levels of responsibility over the team.
  • Proposal coordinators could venture into DTP and graphics, or step up and become proposal managers (adding leadership and solution development skills to their repertoire).

For department heads, investing into a more versatile proposal department means several things:

  • Higher success rate in winning proposals because of a better quality staff – which is definitely worth a relatively small investment into cross-training and rewards for high performers.
  • Ability to rotate personnel from one role to another on a variety of proposals, preventing team burnout; for example, someone tired from leading a high-paced proposal could play a technical writer or a capture manager role on the next one, getting a much-needed reprieve.

Let us know what you think, and if you have any questions about your career path or how to grow your business development teams in the most efficient way.

To expand your professional skills in federal business development across the entire lifecycle, consider taking our courses at the Bid & Proposal Academy.

Leave a Reply