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What Is a Professional Proposal?

The format used in a professional proposal can depend on the type of work and the industry.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2014
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A professional proposal is a document outlining a plan for a campaign or project. It is submitted as part of competition, and used by an entity to find an appropriate candidate to perform a job. It acts as a formal written offer to outline what the proposer can do, how it will be done, and what kind of time line and expenses to expect. Government agencies and large businesses put out calls for proposals to solicit responses before awarding contracts to perform large jobs. These are typically open to all qualified applicants.

The format used in a professional proposal can depend on the type of work and the industry. A call for proposals may specify a particular preferred format, and should include a series of prompts it would like to see answered in all proposals. Usually authors employ formal language and abide by professional norms like speaking in the third person, addressing people by their proper titles, and not using slang terms. In some competitions, proposals are made available to the public in the interest of transparency.

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In an example of a professional proposal, a government might announce that it wants to build a new school, and would issue a call for proposals. Contractors who meet specifications set by the government can submit applications that discuss the approach they would take to the project. Each professional proposal should include information about qualifications and skills to demonstrate why the agency would want to hire a given company. It also includes an estimate, based on available information, about the cost and time frame.

Companies can put out requests for proposal for product development as well as construction projects; a company might seek a new way to make a component, for example, or could solicit input from software designers for a new program. In some cases, company culture may require that staff members with suggestions format them in the form of a professional proposal. Likewise, proposals can be used for internal competitions, as when people at an advertising agency competing to work on a project would submit rival proposals to illustrate their take on an ad campaign and demonstrate their fitness for a job.

Professional proposal writing can be challenging. Some companies retain consultants to write their proposals to make sure they are as competitive as possible. Others may have a department that works on the development of proposals, grants, and other documentation for the company. Guides to proposal writing are available, as are workshops where people can pick up tips and tricks.

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