A friend of mine who is a management consultant once mentioned that he'd spent a sizable amount of time preparing and submitting a response to a request for proposal from a large employer.
When he later learned that the firm that got the project had a lock on the deal from the beginning, he asked the purchasing officer why they'd asked him to submit a proposal. The purchasing officer replied, "Oh, we needed to get at least three bids."
You can spot some recruitment notices and RFPs where there are hints that they are going through the motions. Here are a few things to look for:
- Short response time. This favors the person who's known of the project or has worked for them before.
- Abnormally narrow project requirements. Same as above. You can find job announcements that are so designed for a specific person it is surprising they left out the birth date and name.
- Arcane pre-bid requirements. These too can weed out competition from new firms.
If all three are present, alarm bells should be ringing.