4 Capabilities to Look for When Hiring a Proposal Manager

Hiring the right proposal manager(s) is crucial for an organization’s success. But what exactly should you be looking for? To answer this question, we turned to the best source available—industry professionals. We recently conducted a LinkedIn survey with 304 respondents to uncover the essential skills and traits necessary for a proposal manager to thrive. The insights were enlightening.

The survey posed a critical question: “When interviewing a new proposal manager, what is the most important skill the prospective proposal manager can have to succeed in your organization?” The responses highlighted a spectrum of essential skills:

  • Strong writing/editing: 7%
  • Leadership and management: 19%
  • Interpersonal/team building: 14%
  • All of the above or other: 59%

This result is a testament to the multifaceted nature of the proposal manager’s role. It’s not just about being a strong writer or a capable leader; it’s about a holistic skill set that can address the dynamic challenges of the bid and proposal environment.

Two industry experts shed more light on what makes a great proposal manager in the poll. One emphasized the need for organizational skills, including planning, schedule management, and keen attention to detail. These skills are fundamental in managing the complexities of proposal projects. Another industry expert pointed out the ability to handle pressure. The role of a proposal manager is inherently stressful, and the ability to stay composed and maintain grace under pressure is invaluable.

Based on our survey and expert opinions, here are key takeaways to consider when hiring your next proposal manager:

  • Multifaceted Skill Set: Look for candidates with strong writing and editing skills and demonstrated leadership and team-building capabilities.
  • Organizational Prowess: Given the complex nature of proposals, organizational skills—including effective planning and meticulous attention to detail—are non-negotiable.
  • Grace Under Pressure: The ability to handle stress and maintain composure during tight deadlines and high-pressure situations is critical.
  • Adaptability and Versatility: Given that most respondents chose “All of the above or other” from the list of skills we laid out, it’s clear that flexibility and the ability to wear multiple hats are highly valued in this role.

Hiring a proposal manager is about finding a balance of technical skills, leadership qualities, and personal attributes that align with the unique demands of the bid and proposal profession. As you embark on this hiring journey, keep these insights in mind to find a candidate who can truly drive your organization’s success in the competitive world of bids and proposals.

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals. As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

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Brenda Crist