Careers, like rockets, don't always take off on time. The trick is to always keep the engine running.
Gary Sinise

A Job Proposal can put you Above the Competition

Poor economic conditions have created a distressed job market that has left weary job seekers scrambling to land desirable positions. Such desperate times call for creative job seeking methods.

If you are conducting a job search, one method that might put you above the competition is to submit job proposals to prospective employers.

What is a job proposal?

Just like a business proposal that discusses how a business will help a prospective client; a job proposal explains how a job seeker will help a prospective employer. It is similar to a resume in that it lists an individual’s skills, experience, and achievements. But it also specifies more directly how an individual can help a company solve a problem.

A job proposal should include an analysis of the company’s problems and offer a plan to successfully address the problem. In other words, it offers a solution to a problem. The solution, of course, involves hiring you to fill an existing position, a new position, or a position that is created specifically for you.

The goal of the job proposal is to persuade the company that you – among all of the potential candidates – are the best person to fill a gap or need within the company. It should be based on your knowledge of the company and its industry. It should also thoroughly explain why you will be a valuable asset to the company.

What information should it contain?

The job proposal is based on facts and should include the following information:
  • Introduction – The introduction briefly describes the purpose of the proposal.
  • Company analysis – An analysis of the company shows that you have in-depth knowledge about the company and the issues that it faces. Thorough research of the company and its industry will help you create a solid analysis and help you develop your ideas for helping the company. Your research may involve interviewing industry insiders, reading trade magazines, reviewing the company’s published information, and reviewing company information that is on public record. If you work in the company’s industry or for the company, then your knowledge and experience will also help you create a detailed company analysis.
  • Proposed position – By suggesting a position for which you will fill, you are offering a solution to the problem or problems discussed in the company analysis. The position might be common to the industry, or it may combine elements of two or more positions. Presenting a potential position and describing its scope will show that you are a problem solver who has a clear understanding of the company and the industry.
  • Qualifications – Describing our qualifications is a significant component of the job proposal. In this section, you will want to explain how your unique mix of knowledge, skills, experience, ideas, attributes, and values will help the company achieve its goals. Your qualifications allow you to make the case for why you are a good fit for the company.
  • Achievements – The purpose of listing your achievements is to show the prospective employer just how valuable an asset you will be to the company. These achievements should highlight the skills that will help you solve the company’s problems.
  • Cost/benefit analysis – In business it is all about the bottom line. This is why a cost/benefit analysis is an important component of a job proposal. You want to describe – using concrete figures and anecdotal information – how the benefits for hiring you will out-weigh the costs. The benefits of hiring you may include an increase in productivity, a decrease in operating expenses, more efficient operations, or an increase in sales. The costs for employing you may include salary, benefits, training, and travel.
  • Closing statement – The closing statement gives you one more opportunity to persuade the potential employer that you are the best person for the job. It should briefly reiterate the problem and include the most compelling reasons for hiring you.
What format should be used for writing a proposal?

Like resumes, job proposals do not have to be written in one particular format. For instance, a job proposal can be written in letter form or as a separate document that is attached to a brief cover letter. The most important thing is to present the information in a logical order and an easy-to-read format. 
The proposal should not be too long. One to five pages is appropriate in most cases. Presenting only the facts that pertain to the company’s problem and your ability to solve it should help keep the page count down.

To make the proposal easy to read and understand, use bulleted and numbered lists, headings, white space, and charts and graphs.

When should a job proposal be used?

There are several situations in which submitting a job proposal might be effective. But a proposal may not be appropriate for every situation. You will have to use your knowledge about the employer and your intuition to make the decision. You might consider submitting proposals under the following circumstances:

Applying for an advertised position

A resume may still be the most effective way to answer a job posting or advertisement, particularly if you are submitting it online. A job proposal, however, might stick out from the hundreds of resumes that a company may receive. One idea is to submit a resume and follow-up with a job proposal. It really depends on the situation and your thoughts about it.

Changing careers

Making a career change from one industry to the next can be a daunting experience. It often requires creativity and persistence. A job proposal might help you show a prospective employer why they should hire you over candidates who have more experience in the industry.

Obtaining a full-time position after completing an internship

An internship provides an excellent opportunity to learn about a company and observe its strengths and weaknesses. Your interest in working for the company, belief that you can help it solve problems, and skills and experience acquired during your internship will help you develop a persuasive proposal for full-time employment.

Attaining a promotion

There are several obstacles that might prevent an employee from securing a promotion. For instance, an employee’s performance in a particular position might be so outstanding that they would be hard to replace. An employee may also get passed over for promotions because management does not have a complete picture of their talent and abilities.

If you are having difficulty attaining a promotion, submitting a job proposal to management will showcase your knowledge, experience, and skills. It will also demonstrate problem solving skills and show that you are proactive and forward thinking.

Following-up on an interview

After an interview, it is customary to send thank you notes to the interviewers. These notes can also be used to clarify comments made in the interview, express enthusiasm for the position, or make important points that were overlooked during the interview. By submitting a job proposal in addition to a thank you note, you might improve your chances of getting a second interview and eventually a job. The first interview gives you the opportunity to gather inside information about the company, which can be used to persuade hiring managers that you are the right person for the job.

Some do’s and don’ts when writing job proposals

The goal of the job proposal is to prove to a company that you will be a valuable asset. Listed below are suggestions that will help you create an effective job proposal.


1. Do conduct thorough research on the company and industry
2. Do present new ideas for solving the company’s problem or adding value to the company
3. Do present your knowledge, skills, and experience with confidence
4. Do show enthusiasm for the position and the company
5. Do discuss the company’s strengths as a way to present a balanced analysis


1. Don’t skim over the company analysis (It is the basis for selling yourself to the company.)
2. Don’t come off as a know-it-all and risk insulting the company
3. Don’t overload the proposal with jargon
4. Don’t include too much information (prioritize your points and present the most important)
5. Don’t rush through the research and writing process (It will take time to write a well-crafted proposal.)

It will also help to find an advocate within the company who will champion your cause.

A job proposal is a tool that can put you on the road to career success

Given the current state of the job market, job seekers must use various methods to secure positions that fit their career goals and employment needs. This includes sending resumes, networking, and placing cold calls to employers. The job proposal is one more tool that can help job seekers rise above the competition.

Although writing a job proposal can be time consuming, it is worth the effort for several reasons. First, it is a marketing tool that can help you get your foot in the door. Second, it will help you deepen your knowledge about an industry. Third, it can help you build your professional network. Fourth, you will improve your analytical, research, and writing skills.

It may be a little scary to break away from the traditional resume. But creativity and courage are important for obtaining a position in this volatile job market.


Chabon-Berger, Toby. Write a job proposal that's more than modest: Tell employers what you can do for them. Palm Beach Post (accessed June 8, 2009)

Hanson, Katharine. Writing a proposal to create new position for yourself. Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog (accessed June 8, 2009)

Laurent and Benon Management Consultants Ltd. Use a job proposal, not a resume! (accessed June 8, 2009)

Copyright 2009 Katherine Williams

A compelling job proposal could help you obtain a new position or receive a promotion. Call me at (773) 405-5916 or
send me an e-mail so we can get started creating a proposal that sends just the right message to your employer or a potential employer.

Katherine Williams

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