How do I write a business proposal without coming across as a complete rube?
January 21, 2008 5:17 AM   Subscribe

I've never had to orchestrate a business proposal before, any suggestions?

I've been working a really great job for the last two years, but I'm going back to school full-time and really need to make my degree my main focus. This job, however, has treated me very well and the recent hiring of a new director over me has only made things better at the office.

What I want to do is create some kind of written proposal outlining the fact that college graduates make X amount of dollars more over their lifetime than do non-degree holding employees. To that end, I'd like to notify my director of my intent to focus wholeheartedly on my studies but that I'd also be interested in scaling down my position to a part-time position with enough hours to maintain my health benefits.

In the past, I have proven to be able to work on a restricted schedule with no problems, but that was also when I wasn't juggling serious classes in my off-time. Would asking them for a raise be out of the question, too?

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about putting this into writing and presenting it without coming off like a douchebag? I am not really well-versed in the inner-workings of the corporate environment, so I don't really want to go into this completely uninformed. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
posted by myodometer to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Rather than phrasing the proposal in a way that points out how you benefit (college grads earn more), you might try to find a way to show how they'll benefit. That could be tricky if the degree has nothing to do with your job and you plan to leave the job once you have the degree.

If this is a big corporation, they probably have an application for part-time hours, telecommuting, etc. It might be called an application for "flexible work arrangements."

I'd avoid asking for a raise at the same time I cut my hours. It might be best to wait on that.
posted by PatoPata at 5:48 AM on January 21, 2008

Oh, and be sure to point out how you'll be in the office during important hours & in touch when you're not in the office, and give them other reassurances that you will be a great part-timer.
posted by PatoPata at 5:49 AM on January 21, 2008

You need to readjust your focus and think from the perspective of the employer only. They don't really care why you are going back to school or facts and figures about college graduates making more money--they only care about how it is going to impact them. You need to outline how you see yourself working part time and why they should go for it--what is in it for them? You've been there two years, you have something to contribute and you know procedures. Keeping you on is less training they'd have to spend on someone new, however, that should not be your argument. Frame it all in terms of how it benefits the company. Understand that they might not be able to keep you in a part time capacity. It is not a good idea to time this proposal with also asking for a raise--you are giving them too many reasons at one time to tell you goodbye. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement benefits--have you checked with your HR department to see if that is an option for you? If so, take advantage of it. Employers typically will pay for 6 credits a semester if they offer the benefit. They want to see a satisfactory grade and progress. Some care if the field of study is work related, some don't. Good luck!
posted by 45moore45 at 6:16 AM on January 21, 2008

Don't put it in the context of higher earning power. Why would your employer care about that? "College grads earn more money" = "I have to pay you more". Not a good position to start from.

Unless you're expecting the company to subsidize your education (which, it appears, is not the case), then you don't owe them any explanation of why other than a broad, "I 'm seeking more intellectual fulfillment." Anyone in this day and age who thinks that someone trying to get a college degree is a bad thing is no one you'd want to work for.

From a practical standpoint, are you anticipating that you can still effectively cover your full-time duties in part-time work? If not, a key point to consider is that you're effectively asking to be replaced by 1.5 employees, since they'll need a FT replacement for you in addition to keeping you on-board. That's a lot. Is there a specialized part of your job that you can carve out to be in charge of, to make this transition easier to justify?

Would asking them for a raise be out of the question, too?

Yes, unless you're paid hourly. If you're paid hourly, it's not unreasonable to ask for a modest raise if you believe your work merits it. If, however, your intent is ask for enough of a raise to make up the difference in your work hours, then it's a good way to piss off your boss.
posted by mkultra at 7:10 AM on January 21, 2008

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