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From Sales to Bid Coordinator

After realising sales wasn’t for me, I began searching my options and came across the job ‘bid coordinator’. This role appealed to me because I had enjoyed aspects of my time in media sales.

Being involved in bidding would allow me to make the most of the skills I’d developed in my career to date, but within a project based role that also made the most of my ability to write succinctly and persuasively.

I began contacting recruitment consultants that work in these fields and started applying for jobs that I found online. A month or so later I was contacted by a consultant who was looking to recruit a bid coordinator for Willmott Dixon Construction. I was offered an interview and then offered the position a month or so later.

Describe a typical day in your current role.

The best thing about my role is the variety. I write case studies on the projects that our company has built or are currently building. This involves travelling to our different sites situated throughout the south east which I enjoy as I get to visit new places.

Examples of projects include the £11m+ new build North West Primary School for the University of Cambridge, part of the North West Cambridge Development site, and the £36m+ redevelopment of the University of West London.

Willmott Dixon Construction’s main focus is on the education, higher and further education, leisure, health and commercial sectors, which covers a wide variety of different projects and has given me an in depth insight into the construction industry.

I also write answers to PQQs and tenders. A PQQ is a prequalification questionnaire that clients require you to submit to demonstrate that you have the capacity and ability to carry out their proposed project, based on prior experience.

A tender is the next stage in the bidding process, which gives you an opportunity to specifically outline how you would approach the project you are bidding for, based on logistics, finance, build strategy etc.

At the moment I am working on a PQQ for a redevelopment project worth more than £60m in central London. Previously I have been involved in the tender process for the refurbishment of Alexandra Palace, where we are restoring the Victorian East Wing.

I also assist in any written content that is used in the business, both internally or externally. As my work load varies depending on how many bids we’re working on, there are times where I’m incredibly busy, and other times where you can take a more relaxed approach to the day, which is nice as it mixes it up a bit.

What skills do you use in your current role?

The main skills that I use in my current role are writing concisely and persuasively. Communication skills are also important as I frequently have to liaise with people from various departments of our business. It takes the expertise of many people to successfully compile a bid. It’s my job to collate this information and re-write the often technically challenging prose in a way that is easily understood.

At times this feels a little bit like re-writing Shakespeare for ‘dummies’, minus the philosophical contemplation of life or death. I also work to deadlines which can often seem quite daunting. For example in the next ten working days I’ll be working alongside two colleagues and collectively writing 20,000 words. Staying up late to desperately try and meet a deadline didn’t stop once I graduated.

What advice would you give to English Students?

My advice would be to not worry too much about making a definitive career choice while you’re at university as there are so many options available that most people don’t know exist. I didn’t know my current job role was an option to me as the construction industry wasn’t something that I had ever considered.

That said, it would be a good idea to keep in touch with any graduate friends who studied English (or similar) as their career paths could give you ideas about what it is you might like to do. Linkedin is useful in this regard and can also be used to open other doors.

Once you have graduated, recruitment consultants can be a great source of information. I would suggest contacting consultants from different fields and just discussing what options are available. Be careful to not be persuaded into interviews for jobs for the sake of it though, as while many consultants are understanding and helpful, their primary goal is to place you in a job.

How can students boost their employability?

The best way to boost your employability is to experience as much as you can while you’re at university. Work experience isn’t the only experience worth having when it comes to boosting your employability, so get involved in everything that interests you and be spontaneous every now and then in your decision making.

During the summer holidays, it could also be a good idea to make the most of any contacts you may have. Getting an internship or even doing work experience for a couple of weeks could prove useful once you’ve graduated.

Michael Luscombe is an Assistant Bid Coordinator for Willmott Dixon Construction. He graduated from UEA in 2014 with a 2.1 in English Literature, having achieved greatness at the UEA Sportspark as the 6-a-side league’s top goal scorer for the infamous MOZF. Connect with him here.