Building an effective resume for proposals is hard but it doesn’t have to be. Resumes used for proposals and resumes used for job seekers may offer similar content but they are two very different documents. Understanding the difference and how to present “you” is key to delivering an effective proposal resume.
Often the marketing team is tasked to draft resumes for the lawyers that will be part of a proposal. The goal should be to balance the desire of the lawyer to include what they want while ensuring brand consistency that the firm requires. Resumes are personal and people have strong feelings about how they are represented. Branding on the other hand is about the whole not the individual, as such there is a balancing act about what is good for the individual and what is good for the firm.
We should start with what a resume should not be – it is not merely a presentation of the individuals’ life work in chronological order. Lawyers work on a lot of transactions and with a lot of clients so including everything does not make sense. The goal of the resume is to market your value to the proposal clearly which often means reducing the amount of content, only including relevant information.
Key aspects of any brand are consistency of voice and defining who you are. These elements are important when developing resumes for a team. For example, if a proposal calls for a team of 8 lawyers and 6 of them worked on transactions together, than ensuring the transaction description is the same is very relevant. It provides the consistency and won’t confuse the reader. Allowing a person to tailor part of the description to their role on the project is important as it provides the individual value. This compromise allows for consistency of voice and individualization of the content – the best of both worlds.
Another important part of building consistency is that it adds credibility to other aspects of your proposal. One of the most over used phrases on proposals is “team approach”. Not to say it is untrue, but it is not a differentiator especially when all firms say it. But what does it say about your team if they can’t even describe a transaction in the same way. Potential clients may actually see that as individuals that do not talk to each other – the exact opposite of team play.
In the end the most important part is answering the client needs and how the skills of the individual or team will meet the client’s goals once your firm has been selected. Reading the proposal and tailoring resume’s for the solution will provide a leg up on the competition.