“We’re writers… but not the cool kind.”

So, What Does a Proposal Writer Even Do?

What do you say when describing what a proposal professional does? It’s not such an easy job to explain. And while we find writing proposals pretty cool, it’s not the first thing people think of when they think about professional writers.

It happens all the time. Someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

Reflexively, you answer, “I’m a writer.”

Instantly, the person’s eyes light up, and their voice is full of awe and admiration.

“You’re a writer? What do you write?”


“You write other people’s proposals? Cool!”

“…No, not those kinds of proposals.”

You get a confused look when you explain to that awe-struck individual that you write business proposals. If you describe the process, their eyes glaze over, and you get a vague, “Oh…Okay.” And let’s hope you’ve never mistakenly used the word “procurement.” That’s a surefire way to end the conversation.

Here’s another version of that scenario: Every year, you must fill in your profession on your income tax return.

“Are you a writer?”

“Or an editor?”

“What about a manager?”


How does a Proposal Professional describe what they do to folks outside our profession without rattling off an entire job spec? It’s easy for other professionals. CPAs file tax returns, teachers teach, and doctors treat sick people.

Masters Of All Trades

Proposal professionals do … everything. We:

✔  Write content

✔  Edit and proofreading

✔  Research new industry trends

✔  Strategize

✔  Organize RFP and proposal documents

✔  Design proposal graphics

✔  Interview Subject Area Experts

✔ Maintain a proposal database

✔  Create page layouts

✔  Publish in print or electronically

✔  Fill out forms

✔  Budget proposal resources

✔  Oversee proposal logistics

✔  Lead teams

✔ Train sales and proposal personnel

✔ Create new proposal boilerplate

It’s essential to know how to describe your job succinctly, not just to avoid those quizzical looks people give you to say you work in proposal development or in case you ever decide to leave the proposal industry.

(Yes, we know. That isn’t happening. Proposals are more than a job. They’re a passion.)

But, now more than ever, professionals need to showcase their value. Economic changes and AI almost make proposal development – to anyone not involved – an easy target for companies looking to save money.

Your Two-Story Elevator Pitch

So, how do you succinctly explain what you do as a proposal professional? Here are some suggestions:

  • Use your job title. In casual conversation, it’s often good enough to say, “I’m a proposal consultant for XYZ Company.”
  • Describe your proposal team role. Typically, every proposal team member has a specific role. Are you the writer? The logistics coordinator? Do you maintain the RFP database? State that.
  • State your support role. Each team member has a support role based on their expertise on the do-it-all proposal teams. Are you the graphic designer on your team? The editor? The strategist? There you go.
  • Use your degree and let them draw their conclusions. “I have a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing” is also suitable for casual conversation.
  • Go generic. “Editorial Project Manager,” “Project Manager,” “Consultant,” and “Manager” are great ways to describe what we do. (So is “Professional Cat Herder,” just be prepared for some weird looks if you choose that one.)

These are just a few suggestions. Feel free to add your own and be sure to tag us on social media.

However you choose to describe yourself, make it specific and relatable to the “outside world” so that what you do is remembered.

Also, keep it brief. For some reason, the IRS does not accept a “Multitasking word warrior and professional cat herder who regularly conjures complete documents out of thin air on extremely tight deadlines and no sleep” as a profession.

Maybe Proposal Writers Are Cool After All...

Did you stumble across this blog in search of proposal support? You’re in the right place. We’d love to help you with your next bid opportunity. Contact us. today to make your proposal dreams come true.

Photo by Katrin Hauf on Unsplash

Cris Miller | Client Project Team Manager, Contributing Author
Cris is an APMP Certified Proposal Practitioner and content strategist with over 20 years’ experience writing and editing bids for commercial clients and government agencies. She is a researcher and copywriter capable of creating content for print and digital media, including websites, social media marketing, and brochures. Her specialty is creating engaging copy from confusing industry jargon and complex technical specifications.

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