Please provide a 2-page CV with your tender response.” How often do you see this requirement when submitting a tender? And how tempting is it simply to reuse your standard CV?

Often the skills and experience of team members who will be delivering the contract or project make a difference between winning or losing a tender. Next time you’re bidding, don’t ‘make do’ with the old – factor in some time to revamp your CVs and make them count. Here are a few ideas to get started:

1. Make it relevant

Sure, you can’t change your skills and experience, but tailor it to the opportunity by highlighting the strengths and skills which are most relevant to the role and the project and say why and what benefits they bring.

2. A picture can tell a thousand words

There’s no excuse in a world of smartphones for not having a good photo for your CV. Crop to head and shoulders and make sure the background is blank with no distractions. Smile – you become instantly more approachable.

3. Ditch the clichés

If you must use phrases such as “highly qualified professional, results driven, team player”, then back them up with evidence. Clichés mean little without context. Better still, avoid them altogether and focus on telling a story which emphasises your strengths.

4. Make every word count

If you’re at an early stage in your career, you won’t necessarily have the same extent of skills and experience of others. Don’t try to fill space on the page with waffle – keep it succinct and relevant. Think about changing your page layout or present information creatively if you’re short on content.

5. Focus on achievements, not responsibilities

It’s one thing describing your role on a project, but far more impressive to link it to project successes. If you’re finding it difficult, imagine if you’d not been involved – what would the outcome of the project have been without you? Don’t underestimate your achievements and don’t be afraid to highlight how you made a difference.

6. Be different

Make your summary profile engaging, especially your opening sentence. Instead of “John has 25 years’ experience in project management”, try a different approach. For example, try “When it comes to running road maintenance projects, few have better skills and experience than John Smith,” as a lead in to further detail.

Finally, once you’ve taken the time to write a CV that’s impressive, make sure you keep it up to date. Add new skills and project experience as you go. But remember – the next tender is likely to be different to the last, so revisit the steps above to make sure it stays a winner!

Donna Smithies is a consultant with Plan A – Tender Specialists. She’s part of a 15-strong team who provides bid management, strategy, tender response writing and review for clients across New Zealand and internationally.