should I let a company pay to use my resume in a job bid?

A reader writes:

I am an IT professional with 10 years of experience across consulting, public service, finance, and software. Typically I contract into companies for periods ranging from 3 months to 18 months to work on projects and then move on again. Recently I have realized that I am my brand – in other words, given that what I offer is “me,” I have to be careful to protect both my reputation and what projects I attach myself to.

I have recently been approached by a large company who have asked if they can use my CV in a bid they are putting together. They would use my brand as part of their brand to enhance the attractiveness of their bid. I have neither worked for (or with) this company before, but they have a good reputation. The quid pro quo they offered was that at some unspecified point in the future, if they win that contract bid in a form that would require someone like me, they may hire me to work with them. In other words, the quid pro quo is a lottery ticket with very long odds. Now, given what I have recently realized about my brand, my problem with this is twofold: First, I invest a lot in my brand through training and certifications which I pay for myself and which is not cheap. Second, I see it as a company gaining immediately from my brand and giving nothing concrete back.

My own thought is to propose charging them a professional consulting fee of, say, $2,500 to use my CV. It would be small amount for a company of that size but would keep the value of my brand intact. If I were to charge nothing, it would mean I value my brand at $0, which I believe damages it. To put it in perspective, $2500 would be roughly the equivalent of a week’s work. It would not matter much to me if the company rejected my request for a fee – it’s unlikely they would see it as majorly out of line (although they may reject it as their bid could ultimately be unsuccessful).

Friends and mentors cannot agree that this is the best approach and I would love to hear your opinion on the matter.

No, you absolutely should not let them use your resume in their pitch, not without a solid agreement that you’ll be part of doing the work if they win it. Otherwise, you’re engaging in a joint fraud with them — allowing them to present you as part of their team when, in fact, you aren’t. This is pretty black and white: You don’t work with them, there are no plans for you to work with them, and yet they’d be presenting you as part of their team. This is pretty damn fraudulent. And that doesn’t change even if they pay you for the right to include your resume.

So no, you shouldn’t do this. It’s unethical and wrong.

As for considerations about your brand — I have to admit that I cringe every time I hear someone use the term “brand” in this way. What you have is a reputation, and that’s absolutely worth something — quite a bit, in fact. But “personal branding” tends to be the snake oil sold by questionable career advisors.

{ 139 comments… read them below }

    1. Mike*

      Submitted too soon..

      I’d tell them that you value your reputation enough that you won’t lend it to something that you won’t have any influence in the outcome of.

  1. Joey*

    cmon, really? What do you think they’re going to say? “We MAY hire a highly qualified individual to help us tackle this project?”

  2. FloridaNative*

    That last paragraph is an excellent example of why I love Ask A Manager.
    Thanks for being an intelligent, no-nonsense human being, Alison. :)

      1. Nerd Girl*

        Agreed! I feel like everyone is much too concerned with dragging out those, as my mom calls them, $3 descriptive words instead of sticking to the tried and true. The only time I refer to “brand” is when I’m shopping. :)

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I was actually confused because the OP was using “brand.” It sounded like the company wanted to advertise using his CV or that there was some kind of publicity tied to the contract.

      3. EAS*

        The way I’ve heard it explained is that your ‘brand’ is what you say about yourself and your ‘reputation’ is what others say about you… so while they are obviously hand-in-hand, creating a brand for yourself helps you to build your reputation.

    1. steve G*

      Me too…it made me do a little laugh even though I’m sitting in a quiet office:-/

      I think that if someone is going to claim they are a brand, then they need to do something really unique. Joan Rivers could have called herself a brand. But I don’t think most jobs in the corporate world are unique enough to use as a claim that they helped brand someone….especially in IT……..

      1. hamster*

        That especially in it part is unnecessary snarky . IT is a field where you can build a brand , just like everywhere else. As a consultant , if you do any sort of creative work ( implementation, design, coding -anything that produces content) you may build more than a “reputation”. The most easy example is that of the web designer, but there are countless more.
        However, the situation above seems sketchy to me too, but not unbelievable. A few years ago ( 3 or 4) i was called by a company saying that my resume looks good and was i willing to work with them. Of course i wanted more details, and they say they would follow up , but wanted my permission to use my resume listed skills in the bidding process for a contract. Like sort of an option. I definitely had /have no “brand” but it seemed to me funky so we didn’t follow up. I’ve seen it after in companies. A client asks : do we have the skilss and headcount for “this many man/hour/tasks?” and the company does a dance like. If Joey and Mimi from project x have the skilss we can easliy hire some entrylevel employees to help them so they could maybe strech themselsves a few months to also take on project y until we can hire even more people to hire the void in project x. So it happens. But when you do this with people you haven’t worked with yet, it’s just desperation

        1. LBK*

          Are you talking about a brand in a concrete sense, like a company name, logo, etc? I don’t think that’s the kind of brand being referenced here. We’re talking about the buzzword phrase “personal brand,” which is just a vaguely codified version of a reputation. It’s when you as the person are your “brand,” not a company that you’ve established or other actual concrete imagery you use regularly, ie for consulting work.

  3. The IT Manager*

    I *think* you misunderstand what the company is implying or outright saying in using your name in the bid; although, your use of “CV” seems that you may not be in the US. I have been on the recieving end of these bids for government contracts before. They’re using your name and resume to say that if they win the bid that you will be part of the contract team. And I think these “long odds” you refer to are not as long as you seem to think they may be. The Performace Work Statement (PWS) that their bid responds to should be clear enough that your skill set will very likely be needed if they choose to mention you in their bid. (It makes no sense to brag about the Web Designer they have if the contract doesn’t require any web design.)

    I also cringe with this use of brand. And I think the confusion of your repuation with your brand and their brand make your question greyer than it really is. Your question: Should I let a company use my name as a potential employee in their bid for a contract? Answer: Only if there’s a good faith expectation that you will do the work if they win the contract.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I wouldn’t accept good faith in this instance. I’d want it in writing that if they get the contract, the OP gets hired, and on what terms.

      1. Neeta*

        Couldn’t agree more. Frankly, all this sounds eeriely like the posts on, with: I’ll pay you as soon as my website is starting to make money.

    2. Mike C.*

      If it’s more likely, then why hasn’t the OP been hired on contingency that the contract is awarded?

        1. Natalie*

          It does in construction – every time we hire a general contractor, they already have their contracts set up with the subcontractors they selected when they first bid the project.

          1. Cat*

            Huh, I don’t think we do that when we’re subcontractors on RFPs (usually as specialty legal counsel in a particular area).

          2. OhNo*

            In small-time construction, you may not have the contracts set up before your hired, but you at least have a verbal agreement in place with the subcontractors. Every member of my family works in home remodeling, and that’s how they function.

            Think of it this way, OP – they are submitting a bid, which very likely has a price attached to it. That means if they are hired, they have already agreed to get the work done for a certain price. If they don’t have a contract with you BEFORE the bid is placed, then they are going to come back if they get the bid and insist that you align with whatever their estimate was for your work.

            If you don’t, then they are going to find someone else to do the work for their price – meaning that they will have gotten the bid on the strength of your CV and then paid someone else for the work they promised you would do. And in the client’s mind, it will still be YOUR name attached to that work, so if it’s bad (which, again, they are setting the price. Do you really expect them to pay for quality work?) the client will assume it’s YOUR bad work, and there goes your “brand” down the tubes.

            Moral of the story: don’t do it. It’s not ethical, and it is likely to result in your reputation taking a hit.

          3. Jake*

            I came here to say this.

            There are many instances where this is not fraudulent. It is all in the presentation though.

            If i say op is part of my company I’m fraudulent.

            If i say, this is who I’ll hire if i win the bid, i am only fraudulent if i don’t hire the op after winning.

            If i say i will use somebody of similar size, experience and reputation to the op, I’m also not fraudulent. This type of submission is extremely common for government construction contacts.

      1. blu*

        Are you asking why there isn’t an offer or are you asking why the company hasn’t hired him. The answer to the first may be that the OP hasn’t agreed to work with them yet. It sounds like at this point they have only reach out to him to begin discussions. If your asking for the second, it’s because they don’t have work for him to do if they don’t win the contract.

        1. Daydreamer*

          But the company isn’t saying it wants to work with him. It wants to use his CV as a bargaining chip, and if they get the contract, they “may” hire him to do the work. No guarantees from how I interpret his question – it sounds like the company could hire someone else to do that work. I’d want to see a contract stating yes, he would get the work if this pans out.

    3. J-nonymous*

      Right – and given, for instance, that if a bid is awarded, some part of the work bid may not actually be contracted (e.g., a firm might bid for full design services including UX/UI, but the customer may choose not buy the UX/UI services from that firm but use a different one instead or go in-house) which isn’t really so shady, just relevant to the fact that sometimes services which are bid are not the ones which get contracted to be performed.

      That said, based on the way the OP phrased it, it definitely *could* be shady.

    4. blu*

      +1. It sounds like maybe the OP doesn’t quite understand what is being asked for here. It doesn’t make sense for the company to bid with your resume if they don’t expect you to work for them if they win. I think the “maybe we will hire you if we win” part relates to if they win the overall contract AND specifically your role. For example a company may bid on a project that requires 50 staff members. They may only win part of the business and only need to fill 20 of the 50 positions and another company may win the bid to fill the remaining 30. So essentially if your skillset/role is in that group of 20 then they want you. If it’s not, then clearly they can’t proceed. It think the OP is viewing this more cynically than what is really called for.

      I would certainly want a contingent offer from them in writing, but the company is correct in that they cannot really promise you work at this point. It’s going to depend on their customer’s expectations.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great point, OP. Pretend you are a home owner who needs their house painted. And oh yeah- the gutters need fixing. So you hire a painter that says he knows Bob the Gutter Guy. And Bob will fix the gutters for $x if you give the painter the job.

        So you ask questions.
        Have you worked with Bob before? nooo.
        Do you have a contract with Bob? noo
        Do you have an informal reciprocal relationship of any type with Bob? no
        Can you assure me Bob will come do this work? noo

        Does this sound like a deal for you as a home owner? Same goes for businesses. Try to picture what type of business would agree to this deal if they knew everything you know.

    5. Sarah*

      I work in a nonprofit and we often do this for grants. If we get the grant, we will hire X, Y, and Z to do A, B, and C. If we have to change plans later, we normally have to put in a grant amendment and ask for permission to make the changes to the project. For example, this musician is unable to perform due to scheduling conflicts. It’s normally okay if the replacement is of the same caliber.

      1. Anonsie*

        This. Additionally, we often don’t commit to specific staff members exclusively (it’s more of a “it will probably be Jane but if not for some reason, we’ll get someone like Jane) so they’re not also trapped into having essentially accepted a job that may or may not exist for 6, 8, 12 months until you get a response back from the funding agency. It’s great to say the LW should be guaranteed the role, it’s another to say the LW is locked in to a role that doesn’t exist and may never exist and she won’t know which way it’s gone for many months yet.

        1. fposte*

          Though for our work, the “someone like Jane” positions wouldn’t require us to include a CV; the people for whom a CV were included would be people who really were committed to the project and who we’d need to get an amendment for if they couldn’t participate.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Right. The little bit of grants I have worked with, the makers want an estimate of how much the work will be. They aren’t too worked about the CV or resume of the people doing the work.

          2. Anonsie*

            I did think of that, too. They’ve never needed to include my full CV like they do with the big names.

            However, we have had to justify a few times that I could indeed do the tasks listed as being mine by giving past experience and job descriptions. I’ve also had some funding orgs ask for some pretty kooky stuff, so who knows. Maybe this group wanted a full history of every possible person.

      2. Cassie*

        For many of the research grant solicitations I’ve seen, most of the sponsors will ask for CVs (~1-2 pages) for senior personnel like PIs and Co-PIs. I’ve seen situations where a Co-PI is later not part of the funded project and that part of the work is handled by students. We don’t go back to the sponsor and ask for permission to make those types of changes (only if it was the PI who is being changed).

        We’ve also had companies listed as subcontractors in the proposal but were switched out for different companies when the project was funded. IIRC, the sponsor in that case said it wasn’t necessarily to request approval for the switch – they considered it to be our decision if we wanted to switch subcontractors or even do the work in-house.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Well, that depends on the funding agency. There are some (e.g. NIH) where you have to get written permission if you change one of the people listed as “key personnel” – who can be a PI, Co-PI, collaborator, senior technician, or anyone else you’ve listed as being critical to your ability to do the proposed work.

  4. Hooptie*

    Hmm what if they put the OP on some type of retainer? S/he would receive compensation and maybe that would help lock in their participation in the project. Or is that still skeevy?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      i think unless he/she is confirmed as a member of the team who would work on the project, still skeevy.

  5. NP*

    Would they be presenting you as though you are one of their employees, or would they be presenting you as a teaming member on the proposal? The first is obviously unethical, but the second happens all the time in consulting. You have one firm who is the “prime” who brings on several subcontractors and often independent consultants as part of their team. So instead of it being a proposal from Acme, it’s from the Acme team (which may include other companies).

    But you should be getting a firm commitment from them that if they win the contract and X role comes up on a task, you will be the one doing X work for that task. You don’t have to be brought on as their employee to do that; you can continue being an independent contractor.

    I’ve never been involved in the process of forming a team for these types of proposal efforts, but I would be surprised if it’s common for subcontractors or independent team members to charge the prime contractor a fee to be allowed in on the proposal.

    Bottom line: I don’t think that what the company is proposing is all that unusual.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I agree. I’m actually surprised AAM put a big stamp of disapproval on this one. Clarify the nature of the proposal (that you’ll be a teaming member as NP states) and get a contingent agreement going.

    2. Cat*

      Yeah, it wasn’t clear to me if the hedging was because they may or may not use the OP for the work they’re submitting her name for if they get the contract; or if it’s to account for the possibility that they may get other parts of the contract but not the one she’d be involved with. The second seems acceptable; the first, not so much.

    3. CheeryO*

      This is super common in consulting, and it’s definitely not the norm to be paid to be included in a proposal. It’s just a fact of the business that companies don’t get every job that they bid on, and even for the jobs that ARE awarded, the scope of work could end up morphing so that not every subcontractor/independent consultant ends up working on the project. I don’t see how this could damage your “brand,” as long as you have an agreement stating that, should the company win the job, any work in your arena (or a certain percent, or whatever) will go to you.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      From reading the comments, I’m getting the sense that this can really vary from field to field, which is interesting to me. My experience has been like what fposte describes above — that when resumes are included with a bid, they’re the people who will be doing the work if the work does materialize, and that therefore the company’s fuzziness with the OP is shady. Sounds like this practice can vary though.

      1. NP*

        But I think the issue all the commenters are pointing out is that it’s not clear to us whether the company is actually being fuzzy or if the OP thinks it sounds like they’re being fuzzy, when it might just be poor word choice. The OP states above: “The quid pro quo they offered was that at some unspecified point in the future, if they win that contract bid in a form that would require someone like me, they MAY hire me to work with them.” (emphasis mine) It’s the MAY that’s confusing. Was that the company’s actual wording? If yes, get them to clarify. Maybe they are being fuzzy, or maybe they meant to say “will” and just used the wrong word. If they said something similar but not exactly like that, it’s entirely possible the company did a poor job wording their intent, which led the OP to misunderstand because he’s just never done this before and doesn’t understand how this stuff normally works.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, especially given the OP’s comments in the discussion here,I think the OP might not be fully understanding what the company is saying. (OP, your follow-up comments here give me the sense that you’re not totally sure of how this stuff would normally play out. In which case, it’s worth talking to someone in your field who is, so that you’re assessing this company from a more informed place.)

          1. fposte*

            I also think that taking money for the inclusion of the resume would be a whole nother can of worms–in other realms, that would be a paid endorsement whose compensation would need to be disclosed, because your resume is there as a result of you getting money, not because of your commitment to the actual project.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              The OP is being paid to lend his name to something that may or may not be work for him. If the client is signing the contract based in part or in whole on OP’s name that could be a problem.

      2. AnonAcademic*

        For federal grants issued by agencies like NIH, NSF, etc. it’s common practice for part of the grant application to be highlighting the skill sets of the major players who would be brought on board if the grant were funded. I’ve had people submit my CV as part of their application because of my specialized technical skill set thought I wasn’t currently on their payroll. The OPs use of CV instead of resume makes me wonder if this is the case here.

      3. NotKatietheFed*

        This is a little bit late, but I can add that I used to work in government contracting, and it was very common to use someone’s resume in a proposal who didn’t necessarily work for the company. But…there were very clear rules. We had to include a copy of a contigent offer letter if they were a contigent hire; if they were a consultant, they were treated just like a sub-contractor and we had to include a copy of the signed teaming agreement, which detailed how the work would be divided if the contract were awarded. In addition, everyone, whether they were a current employee or not, had to sign a statement saying they authorized use of their resume and intended to work on the project if awarded.

    5. abby*

      In my previous career, we did this all the time. Our clients expected us to handle a project from start to finish and we often teamed with other companies that had expertise we lacked. We included their proposals along with ours and, if awarded the project, worked with the companies in our proposal. If one of these companies wanted to charge us to team with us for a proposal, we would have looked elsewhere.

      To the OP: Without knowing more about the proposal, it looks to me like the large organization is bidding on “optional services”. The client organization seeking the proposal may want ideas or cost quotes before committing to a particular service. This is very common. The large organization that has contacted you is protecting itself; if it does not get the piece that requires your services, it does not want to be locked into hiring you. You should make sure you get a solid agreement that you will do the work if the organization is awarded that piece, but it sounds to me like that piece isn’t even certain.

      I agree with Allison that it is unethical on both of your parts to include you in a bid if you will not perform the services stated in the bid, should those services be awarded. Make sure this is not the case. Reading your letter, I think not. But you should confirm so you’re not part of something slimy.

      And lose the language about personal “brand”.

  6. Nerd Girl*

    “As for considerations about your brand — I have to admit that I cringe every time I hear someone use the term “brand” in this way. What you have is a reputation, and that’s absolutely worth something — quite a bit, in fact. But “personal branding” tends to be the snake oil sold by questionable career advisors.)”

    Thank you for this!!!

    1. C Average*

      Seriously. I am neither a consumer product nor livestock. I do not want to be “branded,” thank you very much.

    2. louise*

      I, too, am over the “personal brand” imagery and appreciated it. I also appreciate that the remark came from Alison, someone who actually really does have a strong personal brand, right down to the great avatar and a die-hard following.

    3. BethW*

      I actually don’t totally hate “personal brand,” although I’m midway through my MBA and our career counselors really emphasize it, so maybe I’m just too steeped in the culture of our career office. When we had to think about our “brand essence” (I know, it sounds so nake-oily…) it was more about, what do I want people to realize about me when they meet me? What attributes make me unique? For example, a passion for data-driven decisions, an ability to build consensus, even something like the ability to crack a joke and warm up a room…these attributes are distinct from your professional reputation, although reputation and brand certainly move together and would be highly correlated.
      “Personal brand” can be irritating when it’s used as a synonym for reputation, but brand and reputation can be distinct. I think brand is a more expansive term. Coming into school I hated the term as well, and thought it was just the latest jargon, but the thought exercises we were forced to do to define our brands actually did help me during recruiting…having completed the mental work of considering what makes me distinct was a huge help in surviving the interviewing gauntlet with my sanity intact.

      1. HR Manager*

        Funny, I’ve used the concept of branding as well though not necessary as a replacement for reputation. There is overlap in concept, but I think of reputation as a bit more ambiguous. It could be positive or negative, and is usually inferred by others based on their experiences in working with you.

        I think of branding as being purposeful and driven by the individual. It does tie into the individuals’ strengths and competencies, but should also be specific. Your “brand” isn’t just that you’re good, it may be “you’re the implementation expert who is good at getting client requirements”. To me it should represent a mastery of a set of behaviors and skills that make you a go to person for those capabilities. It’s much like products — Apple as a brand brings to mine simple, but elegant design.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          To me, though, that’s the same thing as reputation. I don’t think of reputation as just “good” or “bad,” but rather the kind of detailed example you have here.

        2. Ms Enthusiasm*

          I agree I do think reputation and your personal brand are two different things but there definitely is overlap. I know many people in this thread are kind of over the personal brand message but I truly think it is important and something everyone needs to consider. I look at it like this, your reputation is more about your work. If you do great work then you will have the reputation of being someone who does great work. But your brand is more about you as a person overall. What is your image? How are you perceived by others? It can be about appearance but also more than that. Are you known as a gossip? Are you known to volunteer? Do you have an ultra buttoned up, professional appearance and demeanor or are you more casual and laid back? If you don’t project the image you want then someone else will label you and it might not be something you like. I feel like it is best to be proactive about it. Hence why people should be conscious of their “brand”.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I think that “brand” is a way of saying “holistic approach”. Look at everything you are doing and try do it with consistency and fore-thought.
          Somethings are so incongruent that a person could totally defeat themselves. For example, a Christian counselor who uses a characture of the devil on his business cards. If you are selling organic vegetables it might be a good idea not to wear leather shoes, handbag and coat. The concept of branding can be used to encourage people to look at the overview. Someone talks to you for five minutes, it’s good to have some consistency about you and how you present/think/act.

          That said, I tend to think of a brand as a “thing”. I cringe at the thought of human beings getting reduced down to being a “thing”. Not only that, but when I am shopping I frequently change the brands I am buying. I will try this or try that. I have seen certain brands totally fail, as the quality deteriorated over time. The parallels just don’t hold up well. Supermarket concepts applied to human beings bothers me.

      2. Anna*

        It is the latest jargon (in ten years, I’m willing to bet they won’t use it) and “brand essence” sounds like something that hangs around my cat’s litter box. The examples you gave aren’t brand, they’re skills or personality or reputation. A brand is expansive, but notice how you’ve only mentioned the good things. If you were a horrible person who was late all the time, would that be your brand?

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I think branding and reputation are different. Branding is the image you market to people. Reputation is what you can prove you are.
      I hear branding and I think about people on social media posting pictures and buzz feeds. Branding may or may not be real, its just an image. Reputation is the honest opinions of people who have worked with you.
      If you don’t have enough reputation, then you need to make a brand until you earn a reputation.

  7. BRR*

    Yeah, my money would be on you wouldn’t be hired at all later on.

    If you value your “brand” you wouldn’t charge other’s to use it in name only. It’s like recommending somebody terrible for a job. What others do reflects on you. If this company sucks, your name is attached to that. Plus it could get out that you let others use your name for a fee. You won’t have a good “brand” for long that way.

  8. Grant submitter*

    I agree with Alison’s response that you should have a firm commitment to work with them if they win this grant. I work on large grant submissions frequently and we almost always have subcontractors, some we have worked with before and some we have not. This is pretty common in my world. Yes, we agree that if the grant is funded, they will be a subcontractor. Our grant funding record is pretty strong, so this often happens. The OP should find out how far a long shot this really is. What is the acceptance rate for this program? Does the agency have a record of winning similar bids?

    It is miles outside the norm for anyone to ask to be compensated for inclusion in the proposal. That itself would be a big red flag that the person doesn’t know the grant world and make us definitely think twice about whether we want them to be part of the team. This is how grant writing in my part of the world works. People pull together to create proposals, some are funded and you all end up getting paid, and some are not. No one asks to get paid to be part of the proposal. If OP isn’t interested in the project, say no. If interested, say yes, and know that you will get paid if it is funded and you do the work.

    1. mess*

      Word. I work for a consulting firm and produce proposals all the time. This is also how it works for government contract pursuit (at least in the US) and even some privately funded projects. If we are the prime we assemble the team of subcontractors, which can include independent contractors, and include their resumes branded with their own company name/info. It’s usually totally transparent that the subs are not our employees. I’ve also worked on projects where the sub or consultant is masked as a team member but in that case we would give them a resume in our brand style. We may do some kind of signed agreement (typically just an NDA) but I’ve never had any subcontractor or consultant ask for money to be a part of the team. That would strike me as really odd. There is also often not a guarantee that the sub will get work, because the client can change the scope once the work is awarded.

      1. Nerd Girl*

        Need to say, I love that you just used “Word”. Totally off topic but when I was 7th grade (a loooong time ago) there was this girl who transferred to my school from NYC. (I lived in a suburb of Boston) She used “word” all the time and it stuck with me but everyone at my school thought it was weird and refused to use it. Fast forward to a number of years later and it’s part of the urban vernacular. It was the one and only time I was on the up and coming part of something cool. I usually discover stuff before it drifts away into oblivion.

  9. Mike C.*

    Tell me OP, what will it say about your so-called “brand” if you’re forever tied to a project you were named in, but never actually worked on? What happens when that project goes south? You talk about how hard you’ve worked on your “brand”, but what happens when you agree to have you name all over this, and you’re blamed for mistakes and screw ups you weren’t involved in? You’re giving them the ability to drag your “brand” all through the mud for NOTHING.

  10. Poohbear McGriddles*

    I’m curious how the company approached the OP.

    Was it “We are bidding on this project, and if we get this one part of it we will need someone with your skills. If you’re interested, the client has asked to see your qualifications.”


    “We are bidding on a project that may require someone with skills in X. Now, we will probably be using Percival since he’s in-house, but since the incident a few years ago we really don’t want to publicize that. So, we’d like to tell the client that you are handling X, and if the work gets to be too much for ole Percy we may bring you in to clean up his mess.”

    There is a difference between being interested in the OP’s skills and being interested in their reputation.

  11. Decimus*

    I definitely think the OP needs to clarify things. I have had my resume submitted as part of a bid. I may not have had a formal agreement with the company in question (I’d worked with them on several projects) but it was pretty clear that if they got the contract for the work they were submitting my resume, then they would be hiring me for that project. That’s why they DO include resumes. They want to be able to say “not only do we bring X years of experience, look at the great people we will be bringing with us!”

  12. Amtelope*

    If you think they intend to use your resume as part of their bid, but don’t actually intend to offer you the work, run like hell. But that seems unlikely to me, if only because that kind of bait-and-switch won’t go over well with their client.

    If you don’t actually want to do the work, don’t let them use your resume. That’s dishonest.

    If you do want to do the work if they get the contract, you should get a firm commitment from them that if they get X part of the contract, you’ll be hired on X terms. But you can’t charge money just for providing your CV – that’s normal information that any client would want included in a bid that involves outsourcing work to a subcontractor.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I am not thinking so highly of this other company right now. I wonder how many times they have done this in the past.

  13. Jamie*

    I don’t understand anything about this scenario – but I’m struck by the willingness to sell your name.

    Personally I don’t even like my name associated with stuff other people had a hand in if I didn’t think their work was excellent, much less just sign over rights to it for a one time use for something you have zero control over.

    Also, how would have maintain value of your brand. If you told people you sold use of your resume for $2500 you’re immediately discredited in most people’s eyes anyway – if you don’t tell people it’s a moot point.

    That said if this is going to become a thing I’ll figure out how to take paypal and start charging for mine. Better yet a new one, fake name better accomplishments. I should be able to work from home just shooting out my resumes and taking payment.

    1. Agree*

      It is odd that he/she would be so willing to sell their resume like this and yet still proclaim that the $2500 wouldn’t mean that much to them.

  14. Artemesia*

    My resume has been used as part of grants and contracts many times as they try to justify they have the expertise to go forward. Sometimes it was for the organization I worked in and other times it was on a consultant basis. In each case, I committed and they committed to me actually working on the project if it was funded which several times it was. Use your resume and ‘maybe’ they will hire you to do the work? No way.

    And of course the whole thing is fraudulent as AAM notes. To charge for your resume in this situation would make you an active participant in the fraud.

  15. Michael*

    Hi OP here and thanks for all the replies. First off let me say I’m hearing that its weird for me to ask for money and taking this on board. On the other hand I think its more weird for them to use my resume with no guarantee of work for me if they land the contract (which to clarify is what they are saying). So yeah Im not going to let them use my resume in this case. I am however a bit surprised that so many people think its weird to get compensated up front for projects even though its not the current practise. Also Im unapologetic for saying I am my brand. All I have have as a contractor is my reputation.

    1. MJH*

      You definitely don’t have to let them use your resume, but I’m still not sure why you don’t want to. If they win the contract, they will most likely use you for the work. If you don’t want to do the work, don’t let them use your resume. If you do want to do the work, then you should let them show their clients that you are on board. Obviously they respect “your brand” if they want to include you on the proposal to the client (who they are trying to impress).

      This is pretty standard proposal stuff. If they need you, they use you. If they don’t, they don’t. They are prime, and you are a subcontractor (like people noted above).

      I don’t know what field this company is in, but in my line of work this is not unusual.

      1. MJH*

        I should add: are they telling you there is no guarantee they’ll use you because they will use another IT person, or are they telling you there is no guarantee because your skills might not be required if they don’t win a particular portion of the contract, etc. The first is very shady. The second is standard.

      2. Lulu*

        Agreed. This is completely normal in consulting. I am very surprised at the amount of people who think this is shady. The work is very much dependent on the client who can change it from the request from proposal to the implementation phase, so the company cannot commit to hiring you. If the company has a good reputation I don’t see the harm in being part of the proposal . If they end up winning and needing you, great, if not, no harm no foul Of course if you don’t want to do it just don’t. No one will pay you $2,500 to include you on a proposal though..

    2. CheeryO*

      Yeah, that’s super shady. Are you sure you can’t get something in writing that would guarantee that they would award you a percentage or portion of the work? I’ve never heard of a company submitting a resume of a subcontractor or consultant as part of a bid without a formal contract in place.

    3. NP*

      But that’s just it: they can’t guarantee the work will come through even if they land the contract. The client may not exercise the option to move forward with that task, or it may turn out that when they said X in the statemnt of work, they really meant Y, which is not your area of expertise. In any case, if this is work you’re interested in doing, get them to commit in writing that if they win the contract and X work comes along, you will do X work. It’s really common to ask for a revenue sharing agreement. If they’re unwilling to put it in writing, then walk away.

      And yes, it is weird to get compensation up front for being a teaming member on a proposal. Maybe it’s normal for freelancers or independent contractors to get some percentage of money before the task begins (i.e., after the proposal is submitted, the client awards your team the bid, and the client asks you to begin work on X task), but you’re not at that stage. You’re still at the proposal stage.

      1. LBK*

        In any case, if this is work you’re interested in doing, get them to commit in writing that if they win the contract and X work comes along, you will do X work.

        I think that’s the missing aspect and why people are saying this is so shady. Assuming the OP is interpreting the company’s offer correctly, they aren’t even saying that he’ll be brought on board as long as the work that would require him comes through. They’re just saying they might use him, full stop. That’s way too vague to allow them to use his name on this thing.

        1. MJH*

          But why is it shady? The company is simply bidding for a job and they don’t know how it is going to shake out. So they use his name. I don’t understand how it damages him if they don’t use him.

          1. plain jane*

            The company is going to use the OP’s CV as proof that they can do that task. The end client is therefore expecting the OP to be part of delivering on that item. If the client asks for that task to be done, it’s reasonable for them to expect the OP will be the one completing it. If the company uses someone else, and doesn’t disclose, or discloses in an inappropriate way, the client’s opinion of the OP may be damaged. And that will hurt the OP for future contracts that involve the client, or people who move jobs, or talk to people who were at the client at that time.

            1. NP*

              I don’t see how the client will be upset with the OP if the company chooses to use someone else. If I were the client, I’d be upset that the company did a bait-and-switch on me by promising in their proposal to use the OP and then going with someone else. Unless they can provide a very good reason for NOT using the OP, I’d be upset with the company. My opinion of the OP wouldn’t change.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Unless, of course, they find out that the company paid OP to be able to use his name in order to secure the contract.

          2. Adonday Veeah*

            I think what LBK is thinking is that the company sounds like it wants to use OP’s resume to score the contract, and then be free to hire somebody else to do the actual work. If OP’s rep draws in the contract, and then somebody else turns in inferior work based on OP’s rep… well, that’s how it damages him.

            LBK, let me know if I got your thinking wrong, ‘k?

            1. Person*

              Also, it’s very possible for the company to pass off the ‘somebody else’s’ work as OP’s.

              1. Anon Accountant*

                This was what I was thinking. I’d be concerned the company wouldn’t use the OP’s services at all and if the shoe hit the fan would point the finger at the OP and potentially cause some tarnishment to the OP’s reputation.

            2. LBK*

              The first part is right but my concern would be the OP tarnishing his reputation by involving himself with a questionable company like this at all, regardless of the work that was being done in the end. For me personally, I would laugh in a company’s face if they asked me to use my reputation with zero guaranteed benefit to me, so I wouldn’t think too kindly of someone who agreed to this arrangement.

        2. NP*

          What’s not clear here is whether OP has asked for this commitment in writing (that he will do X work if X work comes up). If he hasn’t, he should. If he asks and they don’t want to put it in writing, that might be sketchy (though honestly it’s not off-the-charts sketchy). If he asks and they say, “of course! Let’s write something up so we can get you on board,” then I don’t see what the big deal is.

      2. Anonsie*

        Agreed on all fronts, although I’m not sure about the contract guaranteeing your hiring. That may be a field-specific thing, but I haven’t seen it before.

        For your last point, there are plenty of people in my team who’ve worked many, many hours on our proposals who were not getting paid and won’t get paid until the funding goes through. If it doesn’t, they never do. I’m covered under different funding right now, but when it runs out I’ll be in the same boat if I can’t get another one approved before then. This is the nature of the business for us.

    4. LBK*

      Also Im unapologetic for saying I am my brand. All I have have as a contractor is my reputation.

      I think this rubs people the wrong way because “personal brand” is such a cheesy buzzword phrase. It reeks of a scam to me. I don’t need someone to tell me about their “brand,” I just want to know what they excel at and see proof from their history to back it up. There’s no need to use the phrase “brand” for that when we already have the perfectly good term “reputation”.

      1. Artemesia*

        Selling one’s ‘brand’ for fraudulent use is hardly likely to enhance one’s reputation in any case.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        I’m torn on the personal brand thing.

        On one hand, I agree that it’s acquired some cheesiness. A lot of times, personal branding comes off as so fake, shallow, and self-serving. It can be a bit of a turn-off when someone goes on and on about their personal brand.

        On the other hand, I don’t think “personal brand” is 100% synonymous with “reputation.” Personal branding is how we market ourselves to establish a reputation. Personal branding is the image we’re trying to convey, while reputation is how others see us. Maybe I’m wrong, but there seems to be a difference between the two.

    5. Snarkus Ariellius*

      The uneasiness of “brand” in this case is because it’s being misused here.  It’s not your fault; I’m with AAM on the snake oil bit.

      The proper definition is, “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”  You’re an IT professional. You don’t make widgets; you provide services.  The services you provide are the same services other IT professionals can provide too.

      Examples: Kleenex tissues, Coca-Cola soft drinks, Toyota Corollas, etc.  These products are unique to a manufacturer.  Your skills aren’t unique to you, although I have no doubt you worked hard to acquire them.

      Make sense?

      1. TNTT*

        This is 1000% wrong. Of course a brand can be applied to services: what about FedEx, Greyhound, or Deloitte?

        The point of branding is to identify a source of goods or services, which an individual can certainly be.

        1. Snarkus Ariellius*

          Fedex, Greyhound, and Deloitte would all say they provide services that are *unique to their companies* which is key. (I’m not going to get into a debate as to whether or not UPS and Fedex are the same.) An IT professional can provide services that other IT professionals can. That’s the difference. Can the OP honestly say he does things that no other IT professional can do? Doubtful. Can he trademark what he does?

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Nope. UPS wouldn’t tell you that they provide services no other company does. They’ll tell you they provide those services BETTER than their competition. Which an individual can certainly claim.

            Being distinct from other sellers of a product or service does not, defacto, mean that you offer a unique product or service. Distinct can mean that you are the luxury version, or the cheap version, or the version that never has bugs, or the version that is blue instead of yellow. The distinction can be real and substantial, or purely imaginary.

            1. Snarkus Ariellius*

              Funny you say this. I saw a Pappajohn’s pizza box last night. Right on the top, it said, “No one does what Pappajohn’s does.” (Yes I can argue otherwise, but that’s not the point.)

              I think it’s both. They say those services/products are better BECAUSE they don’t do what anyone else does.

              Again, you’d have a hard time selling that as an individual. It’s hard enough selling it as a pizza company.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          I agree with your point about branding being to identify the source of goods or services, but to me it seems out of context to call a person a brand I would not apply the word brand to Richard Branson, Donald Trump of Steve Jobs (or any other influential business person) as it just doesn’t sit well and they probably have more cause to use the term personal brand than most people would. The term personal brand smacks of begin a naff buzzword when the same meaning can be conveyed by talking about reputation or image.

          1. Hmm*

            Donald Trump is a brand. His name is on everything. Oprah is a brand. Emeril is a brand. These are also people, but their names have become brands as well. Also, people like Steve Jobs have a personal brand because they have made themselves extraordinary in ways other people have not. They are leaders and have unique qualities and perspectives. They are better at what they do than most others.

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              I’d still refer to the examples we’ve both listed as business people or celebrities not as brands, but even if I was to apply the word brand to people it seems disingenuous for most “ordinary” professionals no matter how competent to use the term brand when compared to the elite few we’ve been talking about.

              1. Hmm*

                I just meant that it is possible for a persons name to become a brand. I agree with you that it seems disingenuous for “ordinary” people to to do the same. I said something similar below but disingenuous is a better word.

            2. Whippers*

              I would actually say that Oprah and Donald Trump are individuals who have brands that bear their names, rather than being brands themselves. Their “brands” are actually interconnected stands of merchandising, media, products,services etc, and as such they are not a brand in and of themselves.
              As a normal person is very unlikely to have all these different strands associated with them, I really don’t think they could describe themselves as a brand or having a brand bearing their name.

              1. Hmm*

                What I meant though is that there is the person and there is also their brand. If someone asked me what brand of cookware I am using, I would say Rachel Ray. Her name has become a brand. Yes, they have brands that bear their names, which is essentially the same as saying their names have become a brand. I also said that Steve Jobs has his own personal brand, so I was distinguishing between the two.

                1. LBK*

                  Her name became a brand because she named her line of products after herself. That is not the same thing being discussed here. A “personal brand” doesn’t refer to a line of products or services that operate under a company that you chose to name after yourself.

      2. Hmm*

        Well, comparing to your examples above, what OP is saying is that his brand is “OP So-and-So, IT professional” which is similar to “Kleenex tissues”. He wants to make his name his brand and for “OP So-and-So” to become synonymous with “IT professional” the way Kleenex is synonymous with tissues.

        I think OP thinks reputation and brand are the same thing.

        OP, you said “Also Im unapologetic for saying I am my brand. All I have have as a contractor is my reputation.” Reputation =/= brand. There are plenty of brands that have a terrible reputation. And there are plenty of businesses that have a great reputation but have terrible branding. The actual work you do will support your reputation and whatever brand you create will stick to that reputation regardless of whether it is actually good or not.

        I think personal branding like this is obnoxious because the people with the most successful personal brands got there by building a solid reputation and then becoming well-known, and their name became a brand by default. It seems presumptuous to first make your name a brand and then have the work follow. I’m not saying that OP hasn’t worked hard, but if you are not famous, this is a much larger hill to climb and his skills, reputation and years of experience are probably not dissimilar to 1000 others.

        For example, Rachel Ray was Rachel Ray long before her name became a brand, which didn’t happen until she spent years building herself a solid reputation and becoming well known.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          But Rachel Ray was probably a brand long before she became well-known. She worked in food in various capacities her whole life, slowly becoming known for various things by the people she worked with. She started teaching courses where the focus was in teaching people to cook meals that take 30 minutes or less. Her brand then shifted to being a great resource for cooking quick meals. She had a brand long before she became world-famous for it.

          I agree with those who have said that “brand” implies an intentionality. It has a lot of intersection with reputation, but it’s more about marketing. Lots of people have good reputaations, but aren’t great at marketing themselves. Your brand WILL build on its own, but there are also steps a person can take to shape that brand, and those steps include all the things that would build a good reputation as well as things that are purely marketing concepts (using a particular font has connotations associated with it. A distinctive resume layout. A go-to opener you use when meeting new people. I’ve even known people who have a personal logo).

          Personal branding can certainly be ridiculous. People often fail to do it well, in the same way that a person who knows nothing about marketing may horribly fail if asked to design an advertising campaign for a new product.

          Advertising is a perfect parallel, actually. Most people say they hate being advertised at. And a lot of advertising is done in a very grating, obvious, and ugly way. But companies pour billions into advertising because when you get down to it, it works. And in many cases, is done well enough to prompt admiration and applause even from those who know they are being sold to.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think that’s a key point though: Normal individual people don’t have the skills or resources to do it well, and therefore most often end up failing horribly when they try. (And I would also note that to do it well, it’s got to be way more than a distinctive resume layout; it’s got to be much more than that, which most individuals can’t pull off. So then they’re left with small pieces of branding attempts, which just seem weird on their own. And which might seem even weirder if they were a whole campaign anyway, since that’s overkill for most people.)

            But the good news is that individual people don’t need to get branding right anyway. They can focus on building a great reputation, and for most individual people, that’s going to be plenty. It’s just crazy to me to think that a random person, with the sorts of jobs most people have, needs to worry about personal branding. They need a good reputation, and that’s really it.

            Very, very few people are in the Rachel Ray category, where they actually need to worry about this.

          2. Hmm*

            But all that early stuff wasn’t her brand. That was Rachel Ray herself working hard and being really good at her job. I doubt she was thinking about personal branding early on. She just wanted to be a good worker and have that pay off. Eventually it did and her name is now used as a mark to indicate quality and expert knowledge. So it became a brand. It wasn’t a brand first.

            Most people, good at their job or not, go to work every day and aren’t thinking about themselves as a brand. They are just working and establishing a reputation. It’s rather ridiculous to market your name as a brand before you have a reputation that makes your name recognizable. That’s putting the horse before the cart.

            1. LBK*

              I agree completely. You’re not a brand until you’ve already built up huge recognition and reputation, to the point where enough people are watching your career that you need to make sure you’re presenting a certain image – that’s when you start building your personal brand. When you’re starting out at the bottom, you’re just building a reputation, not a brand.

    6. RR*

      Re being compensated up front: in government contracting, as folks have noted, it is common to include CVs from independent contractors. Were one to ask for payment from my company for this, one would be on our list of people to never contact again, as would demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of our business. We don’t get directly compensated for our proposal preparation costs — these are part of the cost of doing business. If, however, one were asked to substantially contribute to the proposal effort (say writing the technical section), then it may well be possible to be paid for this work — in my experience, this is usually done through very short-term consultant contracts. Whether or not someone has a consultant contract to work on a proposal, if we are including them for a potentially larger effort, we usually have some sort of teaming agreement that would outline the expectations of both parties in the event of a successful bid.

    7. abby*

      Maybe this has been asked and answered. But maybe the reason they are not guaranteeing the work is because they are not guaranteed they will get the piece that requires your skills, even if they land the contract. In my former world, it is not unusual to bid on “optional pieces”. Maybe they are including you for such an optional piece. I would drill down to the exact work for which they are including you and see if they will commit to that. If so, you should be fine. If not, run.

      1. abby*

        And to add on regarding compensation up front. I work for a non-profit and we submit grant applications fairly frequently. No one is compensated up front. Not us, not the contractors we team with. Prior to this, I worked for a consulting company that worked exclusively with government agencies. No one was compensated up front. Not us, not the contractors we teamed with. Prior to that, I worked for a consulting company that worked exclusively with large corporations. No one was compensated up front. Not us, not the contractor we teamed with.

        Payment up front for preparing a bid is not done. It is a cost of doing business.

  16. Tiff*

    This sounds like a shady version of the contract work my husband does. Similar to OP, the contract company approaches him and wants to use his resume as part of their bid for a project. The difference is that they give him a job offer at the same time and if they are awarded the project he’s part of the team. Using the OP’s resume without any commitment to use him is shady as hell.

  17. TotesMaGoats*

    A. You don’t have a brand, you have a reputation.
    B. Which you seem to be willing to put on the line without any guarantees that you’ll be compensated for it.

    What you are proposing, without a concrete agreement that you’ll be involve d in the project, is a dumb move on your part and the company. If they win the bid and doesn’t use you, it’s fraud. If they win the bid and doesn’t use you, you are out the money you could’ve earned from the bid.

  18. Apollo Warbucks*

    I’m curious about how this situation came about, did the company call you and ask to use your CV in the pitch, but then tell you they might use someone else in the project if he bid is successful? because that just sounds odd

    I’m not sure I understand the thought process behind charging a professional consulting fee for use of a CV in a pitch, it’s not a business convention I’ve ever heard of before, pitches like job interviews are widely understood to be unpaid

    If it’s work you’re interested in taking on then submit your CV and supporting documents for inclusion in the bid as long as you have agreed term of employment, conditional on the bid being successful and it wouldn’t hurt to make sure there’s a proper understanding of how your part in the project will presented in the pitch.

  19. Amanda*

    The OP’s comment about branding reminds me of advice frequently given to creatives that they are their brand and they need to build their brand, etc. As a not-yet-pro creative, I dislike that terminology–I’m a person, not a brand. The creative work I do falls into certain categories that could be branded, and my name will, ideally, come to be associated with those types of works/categories, but I am not my work.

    That aside, the OP’s phrasing somewhat implies that this company is treating the CV/resume like many companies do creative work, wherein they request artists to give their work away for free because “exposure” or “We’re kinda strapped for cash ourselves but can offer this maybe-possible thing at some distant date.” In which case, yes, “F- you, pay me.”

    But other commenters have pointed out that it’s common practice for companies to include resumes in bids as a way of showing the expertise behind the project, and I wouldn’t consider a resume a creative work. So all that to say, I think perhaps the OP is misapplying branding advice concerning creative work.

  20. CaliCali*

    I’m a bid manager, and in my mind, they should not ethically use your resume and credentials unless they are committed to actually involving you in the potential project (via written agreement). In terms of brand or reputation, I don’t think it really matters — if they switch the personnel post-award, they won’t care about YOU not being there, but about the company failing to provide the actual staff committed to in the project. What it’s really costing you is not actually being involved in the project and getting paid for that project. Now if you’re consistently being added to bids in the same industry with the same customers, eventually it will come back that you’re a resume-for-hire, but the immediate cost has nothing to do with your brand and everything to do with your future employment.

    1. CaliCali*

      And I will say that task order contracts or RFPs that segment out portions of work (alluded to in the comments above) can be different, in that your portion may or may not be awarded, but there should still be an agreement that if the particular business area or TO is awarded, that you would be brought on to do the work.

  21. Interviewer*

    “Friends and mentors cannot agree this is the best approach.”

    Because it’s not. You don’t ask someone who doesn’t employ you to pay you a week’s wages in “consulting fees” to consider you as a possible candidate in a bid proposal.

    I noticed you are unapologetic about saying “my brand.” However, you said it 7 times in 3 paragraphs.

    Please consider the difference between brand and reputation. One is a logo, a slogan, a jingle, a faceless entity – it’s what you say about yourself. The other is carefully crafted, nurtured and built over a long period of time – and it’s what others say about you. Which one do you want to have?

  22. Michael*

    Ok Im running away from helping these guys out. It may be standard for companies to use peoples resumes but I’m not comfortable with doing it for free.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Why would they pay you for a copy of your CV? It’s of no benefit to the company unless the are hired. Frankly I’d be surprised if your were asking the firm to compensate you for the hour or two it would take you to get together the application materials as a consultant / contractor it’s your responsibility to find work and some admin costs are not chargeable to clients but, asking for a whole weeks salary makes you look really out of touch with the way business is done.

    2. Hmm*

      Is it possible that this request to use your resume like this has inflated your ego a bit and that’s where all this personal brand stuff is coming from? Do you think your CV is a stamp of approval for this company and that somehow they will get the contract because your brand is involved?

      I don’t mean to come off as rude. That’s the best way I can think to phrase it. But this is what its starting to look like to me.

      The thing is, it’s your good work and the content of the CV that might give them a leg up. It’s not your brand or a name that will push them ahead because of association. If you aren’t willing to do the work then why would they pay you anything?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think we all look want these things that appear to be a feather in our cap. “See, ABC, Inc got the contract because I tossed my CV in the rink!”
        Yeah, I’d be strutting around, too.

        Here’s the kicker: There are other ways to get those feathers. If you want to use the word brand to it’s fullest, then you have to consider ethics, responsibility, integrity. Look at Johnson and Johnson in the Tylenol case. They instantly pulled all bottles off the shelves. Why? Ethics, responsibility, protecting their brand, a whole bunch of things. Really, at that time that was the only way to stop the BS, because we were going to get copy-cat crimes. They had to drop the hammer. And they saved their own butts in the process.
        A feather in their cap.

        Ethics, responsibility, integrity isn’t something you put on in the morning before going to work. It’s something you live and breathe all day long 24/7/365. Call it reputation, call it brand, call it whatever. You have to have the strength/insight/follow through to make the right choices all the time. Those are the real feathers to gather. Anything else is fleeting.

  23. Nicky*

    I would give this whole thing a very wide berth. My opinion is probably strongly coloured by my experience with a former employer, a large “business process outsourcing” multinational who were absolutely shameless when it came to talking themselves up at pitch-time. They won the contract to run the in-house design and print section of my then-employer with wild promises regarding the skills and industry experience of their people, who were either halfway out the door already, or not actually going to be anywhere near the project they were pitching for, and of course had no design or print experience. The following makes me very suspicious:

    – If this company have such a great reputation, why don’t they already have contractors with your skillset? And if they do, why aren’t they bidding with them?
    – You’ve never worked with or for them before – you may indeed have a great ‘brand’, but for all they know you could be a nightmare to work with, or have completely fabricated your CV. Why risk a bid on an unknown quantity?
    – If they have such a cavalier attitude to contracting, how good do you think the team they’ll land you with will be (that’s if they have any intention of actually contracting you)?
    – If they have such a cavalier attitude to contractors, what wild things you think they’ll be promising the client you/they can do in an effort to sex up their bid?
    – If they do pay you $2500 to use your CV, do you honestly think they’ll only use it this one time?

    I may be overly cynical, but all I see is an unwelcome association with a company that probably has no real intention of using your skills. Imagine if you were enhancing your own CV by putting a fabricated stint with this company on there – would they understand that it was just to help the attractiveness of the bid? Hells no! Alison has it spot on – this is fraud. Avoid!

  24. misspiggy*

    I give my CV ‘for free’ to be added to bids all the time, on the understanding that if the work is funded, and has ‘my’ section of work in it, I will be used (so I benefit, from having work that I wouldn’t have been able to get on my own).

    If the contracting company decided not to use me, the client would be unhappy not to get their promised person, and I would be able to let the client know that I was willing to do the work – so the contracting company would have problems with their next bid. As proof of good faith, the contractor would usually give me a copy of the bid with all the contact details on and my CV included, so it’s clear who is involved and what has been said to whom.

    There’s often no formal commitment on my part to do work that may or may not materialise in a year’s time, but if the work did come up and I turned it down without good reason, my reputation would suffer and I wouldn’t get invited into any more bids.

    This is a very longwinded way of saying that as a freelancer, it’s often personal contacts and networks which determine the level of trust you can have. I’ve got pretty good knowledge of which contractors I’m happy to work with, and I tend to reject the others by politely saying I’m too busy. It sounds like the OP hasn’t built up the trust needed to work with this company, so it makes sense to decline – but hopefully without burning bridges.

    It might also be worth the OP doing more networking, to get a feel for which contacts and practices are worthy of trust.

  25. CC*

    I have a question I haven’t seen asked yet.

    Did they also ask for an estimated time and cost for the work they may be hiring you for?

  26. saro*

    This is very common in my field and generally speaking, the very good candidates only allow their CVs to be used if they are interested in actually working on the project. My company only asks people that we plan to actually hire if we win the grant. Timing is often an issue so sometimes they aren’t available to work but they get the right of first refusal. However, if anyone asked to be paid for us to their CV, s/he would be put on my do not call list. We do ask a number of people if they are interested in letting us use their CVs and I let them know whether we used it or not.

  27. Observer*

    I haven’t read all of the responses, but I want to say that Allison is 100% correct that if you let them use your resume under the circumstances, you are committing fraud.And if word gets around your reputation is going to be in the drain. (And so will your “brand”, if you have one.)

    Here is the thing. The reason that this company needs your CV is because the RFP says “prove the you have the capacity to accomplish x, y and z” and / or “We want to know the qualifications of all of the people who are going to be working on this project so we can decide of it makes sense.” So, when they use your resume they are representing that you are going to be working on the project. But, that’s not true – neither you nor they have committed to this, so it’s false to say that. The only way for this to be legitimate is for there to actually be a commitment on both sides that if Company x gets Contract Y, they will hire you for Tasks A,B abd C at whatever rate you would charge them for that work.

  28. Shawn*

    I work for a government contractor that frequently participates in exercises like this. As part of our proposal submissions we have to provide a list of key staff and their qualifications. This is done, supposedly, to demonstrate that our company has the capability to do/manage the work we are proposing on. Sometimes the people we submit are the ones who will do the work, sometimes they aren’t, and it’s usually dependent on the type of project it is. Either way, the government typically isn’t looking at brand/reputation of a specific person. They are primarily looking at a spreadsheet of qualifications to make sure everyone meets the requirements. Every now and then the government customer has a specific person they like/have in mind/etc who they would like to see lead/work on the project, so in that case names/brand might matter, but this is relatively rare.

    Some of these government projects/contracts already has a good amount of incumbents doing this work, for a different company on a contract that is up for recompete, that we would be expected to try and retain once we win the work. In this instance both the company and the government know that the majority of people listed as key staff won’t be doing the work, so it’s funny that it has to be included at all. However, it’s not uncommon for the project/program manager to be a legitimate position that is needed/evaluated. We always attempt to present those we already have on staff as the key personnel, whether or not there is any intent for that person to do the work if we win. If we don’t have someone on our payroll with the required background/expertise we will start to look around. At that point we will usually offer that individual some sort of intent to employ agreement with a bunch of stipulations about us having a position available/coming to terms/etc. We can’t offer a 100% firm job offer because…..

    Once a contract/project like this is awarded our company finds out what incumbent staff need to be transitioned over and what sort of new positions need to be filled ASAP. Sometimes we know this in advance, but frequently not, at least not in concrete terms. It might turn out that we don’t need to hire anyone because the positions on the contract/project are a little different from what was in the RFP, that position exists but there is an incumbent the program would like to be retained, or a variety of other factors.

    My company would balk at a candidate asking for payment in exchange for using their resume unless 1) you have such a specialized background that they don’t feel good about competing for this work without you and only you AND/OR 2) you are going to contribute to the proposal in other ways (intel about the customer/project, technical information, pricing information, etc).

    This really isn’t meant to be shady, it’s the game the government makes us play.

  29. Steve*

    I have a number of government vendors asking to use my resume as a named “key” software engineer so that they can win a contract with the FAA. Often, they mask their intent by soliciting me via email by stating the position’s requirements all the while making it seem the position is real, when actually its contingent upon them winning the contract. (which I don’t find out until I research the position posted on other job boards)

    This seems underhanded to me, since they don’t provide a start date and compensation in return for my use of my resume. Its almost like they feel entitled to my resume just because they have the connection with the US Government.

    So, to prevent this, I placed a copyright banner in the footer of my resume, but I don’t feel its going to protect me. I would like remuneration for the use of my talent in their proposal (I worked hard to gain that experience that they need in order to win the contract), or at least a firm written offer with compensation and a start date should they win.

    Is it legal for them to use my copyrighted “labeled” resume for this purpose with out my written consent? Does the government allow this within the guidelines of their procurement regulation laws?

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