The EXA Way Supplement

Resume and Grid Construction

Page 100

Resumes are one of the most time-consuming activities when responding to an RFP. They consume time and effort because people’s resumes seldom provide the information the RFP requires and in the way the RFP requires.

In this example, we respond to the following criteria.

There are 35 points available for proponent who responds to this criterion. You must read the rated criteria carefully because simply adding up the points gives you a total of 45, but only 35 of those points are available to a fully qualified individual.  Some RFPs are tricky that way.

The capture leader tells you they found a fully qualified, compliant person who should score full points, and presents the candidate’s resume to you.


You examine the resume, and it looks promising. But when you parse it carefully against the evaluation criteria, things fall apart. Here is what you report back to the Capture Leader.

     Mandatory Criteria

     BSC Computer Science                                                                                               Check

     10 years as a Cyber Security Specialist                                                                      Check

     3 years as an Agile Coach or Scrum Master                                                                 FAIL

     The resume does not say how many years the candidate          
was an Agile Coach


Rated Criteria

     Masters or Ph.D.                                                                                                           Check

     Over fifteen years as a Cyber Security Specialist                                                     Check

     Over 5 years as a Coach or Scrum Master                                                                   FAIL

     The resume does not say how many years the candidate          
was an Agile Coach

     Worked in Cross-Functional Teams                                                                               FAIL

The resume does not mention cross-functional teams at all

     Certification in cyber security                                                                                       Check

The candidate’s resume does not demonstrate they meet the mandatory criteria, and they miss 10 of the 35 rated points. The capture leader scoffs because they are certain the candidate has the requisite experience. The capture leader tells you to talk to the candidate and correct the resume.

You sit down with the candidate and interview them. You go over every detail of their experience. You discover the candidate first became an Agile coach with Blook Enterprises, their first employer. You also discover the candidate worked with cross-functional teams in all jobs, they just didn’t express it that way on the resume. Finally, you discover the candidate worked on several major cyber security projects. You decide to include the experience from each project in the resume.

After two days of interviewing, documenting, checking, correcting, and formatting, you develop the following resume. For now, ignore the left column with the codes. Review this resume and compare it to the one from above.  

This style of resume is called a grid because it presents the credentials and experience in a tabular format. We do not call this table a grid to the client – we still refer to it as a resume in the proposal, but among proposal developers, it is a grid.

There are significant improvements to the grid compared to the classical resume:

  • There is much more relevant information in the grid
  • Experience is cleanly broken into grid rows, making it easier to parse
  • Keywords from the RFP appear in bold in the grid, making it easy for the evaluator to locate responses to specific evaluation criteria
  • The grid breaks experience into projects, giving a clearer understanding of what experience the candidate gained from each employer
  • The grid clearly presents experience duration in dates and number of months, relieving the evaluator from having to calculate experience duration

Information is much easier to find in the grid, even though it contains more text than the resume.

The grid itself appears in an annex following the proposal section that responds to the requirements. The table below will appear in the main body of the section. This table is called the response.

The response addresses every relevant RFP requirement and clearly points to where in the grid the evaluator will find evidence demonstrating compliance with each criterion in the response. This is where the left column of the grid comes in. The right column of the response refers to the codes in the left column of the grid. These codes are very important. They show the exact location the evaluator should read to verify the claimed experience or credential. This approach prevents the evaluator from having to scan the resume from top to bottom in search of each experience.

As you can see from the above response, the bidder leaves no room for guesswork or interpretation. It even converts number of months to years to relieve the evaluator of those calculations. Every claim of experience or credential in theResponse column has a corresponding entry in the Reference column pointing to the exact location in the grid that corroborates that claim.

The above example is straightforward. There are only three mandatory requirements and six rated criteria. Some grids, and corresponding responses, become exceptionally complex due to the nature and scope of the evaluation criteria. As requirements become more complex and voluminous, grids and corresponding responses become more critical to presenting the experience clearly and unambiguously.

***Disclaimer: The information presented in this supplement is for information purposes only. It is not intended, and may not be used, as legal or business advice. The author makes no representations of warranty, accuracy, or fit for purpose of the information herein. Use at your own risk.