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Update from graduate bid writer Alex


As a former automotive blogger and self-confessed petrolhead, I joined Executive Compass in December last year via their graduate scheme to kick-start a career in bid writing. Graduating as an English Language student from Newcastle University, the majority of my studies surrounded the use of persuasive language techniques in marketing and therapy. I joined Executive Compass along with two other graduates, Joel and Kate.

Back to school!

Summarising the Executive Compass training in a cliched proverb:

‘Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.’

One of the most difficult balances to achieve in training anybody is ensuring that they receive sufficient assistance, without creating a culture of reliance on external help. Our first month of training hit this balance perfectly, incentivising independent research and development over the ‘spoon-feeding’ of information.

Neil and Peter ran a series of comprehensive training workshops, covering all the typical areas covered in tenders and features unique to bid writing, such as quality, environmental impact and an answer structure. We then completed responses, using our previous writing tests in a before-and-after comparison – our responses following the training had improved substantially, with Neil claiming, ‘it’s as if they were written by an experienced writer’. To say I was taken aback by this is an understatement! Between them, Neil and Peter review every single word written by Executive Compass so they have seen it all and know exactly what constitutes a good bid.

Afterwards we began shadowing other bid writers in the company, writing responses of our own, and receiving positive reviews in the first week. Only then did it finally sink in: in just one week, I had learned more about professional writing than I had in a decade.

Settling into the world of bid writing

As somebody who likes to ramble on a bit, writing about cars and fixing them poses different challenges to bid writing. Nevertheless, there are several important ‘blanket’ challenges between the two, such as:

  • Identifying the audience – my motoring blog was for car fanatics and a more causal audience in general. I needed to ask myself, What will they want to know? The same concern is there in bid writing. What do the evaluators want to know?
  • Distinctive tone/style – blogging requires a very different approach to language and tone from tendering, but the adjustment of language and tone based on the genre and audience is crucial to getting your reader on side.

Thankfully, my time at university has allowed me to develop my formal writing to ensure these key challenges are met. The scope of works in bid writing is extremely interesting – learning about industries I had never known about, or thought I’d know about, such as asbestos surveys and removal. Tendering is a great reminder that context is the key to great writing.

Next steps: winning bids

Bid writing has proven itself to be somewhat unique, posing its own challenges and nuances. In saying that, there is a mutual feeling between Neil and us graduates that there is an exciting future for us in the world of bid writing. Within the next few months, it’s expected that we shall be running multiple projects independently, winning bids of our own. It’s been a challenging but rewarding start, and I look forward to writing into the New Year as part of the Executive Compass team.

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