How to Write a Proposal or Bid for a Job
Effective job bids or project proposals are well-crafted, detailed, easy-to-read and address the specific nature of the duties to be performed or executed. Professional proposals should be computer-generated on company letterhead, while service industry forms can often be pre-printed. Before writing a proposal or bid for a job, learn whether the company or client you're pitching has a formal proposal process, such as an RFP form, or request for proposal guidelines, that you should follow.
Whether you're an independent contractor or a business owner, your written proposal or bid should include a brief description of yourself, your company, the specific products or services you provide and an overview of your work experience. This helps a potential client see you’re qualified for the job, particularly if you include lists of past clients who are similar in nature to the client you’re pitching. Highlight your reliability, work ethic, staff size, if relevant, licensing and bonding and your ability to meet deadlines.
If you’re writing a proposal to complete a specific project, be as detailed as possible in describing how you’ll approach the undertaking. Include proposed start and finish dates, details of the responsibilities to be completed, offer an estimated cost breakdown and describe anticipated outcomes. If you’re following an RFP, address each item in the document to ensure you’re providing all required information necessary to be considered for the bid.
Depending on the type of bid or proposal you’re submitting, it may be advisable to include attachments. For example, if you’re writing a proposal to paint the exterior of a house, paint color samples or photos of previous jobs are useful. If you're proposing copy-writing services for an ad agency, copies of previously crafted newsletters, brochures or web copy can demonstrate your work. Your proposal or bid should be inclusive enough to demonstrate why you’re the best person or company for the job.
Ask former satisfied customers to provide you with letters of recommendation that serve as supporting documentation to include with your RFP, bid or proposal. Ask previous or current clients if prospective business contacts can call them for a personal reference or to ask questions about your approach to projects and service provision. This demonstrates you‘ve successfully performed such work in the past and have happy customers willing to vouch for your efficiency and professionalism.
If you’re in the service industry, it’s advisable to have pre-printed forms or bid estimates you can fill out quickly and on the spot for a customer. For example, an auto body repair shop might use a form with a vehicle diagram, and a house-cleaning company might opt for a checklist of cleaning options that can be tallied for the customer.