12 things you need to know when writing tender CVs

Most tender submissions require you to include CVs (curriculum vitae) of the key personnel that you intend to use on the project or service delivery. The quality of many projects comes down to the quality of the people that are working on it. This makes each tender CV critical in selling the quality of your team and the quality of your bid.

Here are twelve things you should know on how to write a tender CV for your tender of proposal:

1—Tender CVs show you have the best people

A project or tender CV is very different to a CV that you use to apply for a job. The question you are trying to answer in the tender is not whether the person can do the job BUT why they are the BEST person for the role.

2—Tender CVs show you understand the project

It is important that each CV is tailored and written for the specific project. Each project has its own focus and its own unique needs. The achievements of your team members are a way of showing that you have tailored your team for the job. Beware boilerplate, that is, using generic CVs that don’t match the job.

3—Tender CVs are an opportunity to build trust

It is important to understand that organisations don’t have relationships, people do. The people you put forward will be the people with whom  the people in the client organisation will have relationships. Therefore make sure you include the team members interpersonal and communications skills.

4—You must have good photographs

Each CV must have a good quality head and shoulders shot of the person (informally known as a mugshot at Madrigal). Although photographs are shunned in CVs when you apply for a job they are important in bids because we are trying to personalise the document and emphasise the relationship.

5—Presentation is important

Whenever you present a document, the quality of the presentation is important in showing your level of professionalism. Poorly presented documents tell the client that you don’t care enough about the job to make an effort.

If you have the resources, the tender CVs should be desk-topped designed (say using InDesign). Use attractive layouts and make sure that all the CVs match in quality and presentation. Make sure that the layout is branded in the same style as the bid layout and include the logo of your company, joint venture or entity. One badly presented CV will ruin the effect.

6—CVs should be short and high quality

Even though the tender CVs are important, the bid assessors won’t appreciate them if they are long and difficult to read. Make sure there is a good summary at the beginning that shows the person’s ability to fulfill the role. Keep the document to one or two pages. Use headings to signpost key points: Qualifications, Skills and Experience (include years of experience), Achievements, and Key projects.

A two page CV is used when the tenderer has asked for specific information on the team members. Whereas, a single page is used when only generic information is requested. Make sure that they are all as consistent as possible because differences may accentuate weaknesses.

7—Emphasis achievements

CVs should emphasise achievements—not just participation. They should emphasise how the subject provided value to the projects they worked on. These achievements should match what the client is looking for on the tender. Experience of the work is good but delivering valuable outcomes is what will win.

8—Don’t include personal information on tender CVs

Personal information is not appropriate on tender CVs for several reasons: a person’s lifestyle is not relevant to the bid; the information is private and there is no control of how it will be used; and it distracts from the key message of the document which is how the person will best help deliver the project. You can bring personality into the CV by talking about working relationships and management or communication styles instead.

9—Write CVs at the beginning of the process

Tender CVs are a good part of the submission to get started on. The CVs are time consuming and can take several drafts to get right so the sooner they are started the better. They are also straightforward to write even when the bid strategy is still evolving.

10—Use the correct tone and tense on the CVs

It is important to use a professional, impersonal tone to match the bid document. Make sure the tone, tense and pronouns are correct and consistent, that is, all work is described in the past tense (even if the person is still working on a project); the tone should be clear, succinct and without hyperbole (i.e. don’t use adjectives like best, greatest, fantastic as they are subjective); and write in the second person, that is, John did this rather than I did this (first person).

11—Always check and proofread your CVs

It is important to get the tender cvs checked and proofread before completing them. If you have a bid writer on the project they should make sure that their work is checked by the person on the CV and also by the bid manager for approval.

12—Include a tender CV summary

A small innovation that Madrigal Communications uses is to insert a summary of all the tender CVs in the document. This allows us to focus the client on the key personnel and reiterate the benefits of the key people to the project. It helps to personalise the document by bringing the head and shoulder shots into the document’s body and also makes sure the client does not overlook the tender CVs.

Getting the CVs right can help set the scene for the whole bid so don’t overlook their importance in a winning bid strategy.