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I've interacted with hundreds of HR professionals throughout my career as an executive resume writer and career consultant. With some, I've collaborated on writing business plans and proposals for a host of different initiatives:
In this article, I'm going to share six steps to follow to write winning business proposals and why each step is essential. I'll discuss the critical components of content and presentation since both topics are important.
Make Your Idea the Centerpiece
The content of your business proposal is the most important feature of the document. You have an idea, a vision, an essential need or some other driving factor for what you are proposing and why. That information is the heart of the entire proposal.
The first step in creating the proposal is to develop a marketing mindset to promote your idea. No matter what you are proposing, you are "selling" something and, therefore, must capture the "buyer's" attention by clearly communicating why your proposal is worthy of action.
Here are the six steps for writing a business proposal that engages readers and drives positive action:
Keep It Succinct and Write It Tight
Whether you're writing a two-page proposal to justify a new hire or a 10-page proposal for a large investment in HRIS technology, you want to write tight, lean and clean to enhance readability. If your proposal is so dense with text and page-long paragraphs, it's difficult to read and, therefore, easy to put aside. Don't let that happen to you!
Here are a few recommendations for how to write tight, lean and clean. Use:
Format for Readability
These additional recommendations for formatting, layout and page design that will attract readers to your proposal and further enhance readability:
Integrate Essential Keywords
You may be keenly aware of the importance of keywords in resumes and job search, but have you ever thought about their value to other business documents? They are powerful additions to anything and everything that you write.
Keywords resonate important clues about specific skills, qualifications, job titles and company names. For example, whenever I read the keyword "compensation," I assume that individual has experience in salary administration, benefits, claims administration, employee rewards and bonuses, executive compensation, and maybe even expatriate affairs.
Or, if I read "CHRO," I instantly think of strategic HR planning, recruitment, staffing, training and development, benefits and compensation, HRIS … the list goes on and on. Just look at how many things were communicated with just 4 letters: CHRO.
Give careful thought to the importance of keywords when writing business proposals. As we've already discussed, you want to write tight, lean and clean, and communicate your messages in a manner that is easy to read, understand and clearly defines what action needs to be taken. Be certain to use relevant keywords whenever crafting a business proposal so that you can communicate a great deal of information with the right word choices.
Wendy Enelow is a Master Resume Writer (MRW), Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), working with professionals and executives worldwide for the past 30 years. She has written 20+ books on resumes, cover letters, keywords, and career management, including the recently released Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed … Get Hired
(Emerald Career Publishing, 2016) and Best Keywords for Resumes, Letters & Interviews (Impact Publications, 2003). Enelow has been interviewed by major media including The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, ABC News, Money Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and scores of others, and is the Job Front columnist for the American Legion Magazine.
She is a skilled presenter and trainer before audiences nationwide.
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