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I am writing about my past job experience in a grant proposal. The proposal is in first person so I use "I" for most of it. At some point in the proposal, I describe a collaborative project where I worked as part of a team, hence I change to using the pronoun "we" where appropriate.

I asked a colleague to proofread my proposal and they criticize the change in point-of-view. I'm well aware if, for example, I were writing a short story, a change in point-of-view is a classic mistake (i.e. drifting from third person narration to first person). But this is an account of things I actually did, written from my perspective.

If you're writing an account of your work experience and you switch from "I" to "we" if and when you want to refer to actions that took place as part of a team, is that really problematic?

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  • I cannot say if this is your case, but consider if the language somehow implies or suggests that your role in the current proposal will include that team, or if that team is an asset that you will bring to the table…. If not, it may be clearer to emphasize your role and contributions to that team, rather than the accomplishments of the group: My role with Group which accomplished these goals, vs As Group, we accomplished these goals...
    – wetcircuit
    Dec 29, 2021 at 15:49
  • Grant proposal (and resume/CV) is not prose. You are not (I assume) creating a picture using points of view, your POVs, in effect, should be your projects. Thus, you define what was was the team effort vs your individual effort. If you are still finding I/we transition too rough, you may try to use phrases like "With my colleagues, I ..."
    – Alexander
    Dec 29, 2021 at 17:40
  • It's definitely important in a grant proposal etc to make clear what your personal contribution was, and state your skills and experience without taking credit for other people's work. So, as Alexander says, you want to make it clear what you did alone, what you did with your colleagues, and (if relevant) what your colleagues did without you. But with that proviso, there is nothing wrong with combining "I" and "we" if you did some things alone and some things together.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:50

1 Answer 1

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From my experience in writing grants and proposals in academia, use we.

Pros:

  1. "We" is a superset of "I";
  2. it implies that your work benefit from team-work, exchange of opinions with colleagues, or simply drawing ideas from the world around you;
  3. you don't have to edit the entire text when you want to include a collaborator, or re-use the same wording for a team proposal;
  4. you don't sound like a narcissist to the person reviewing your application;
  5. it does not raise questions when you switch POV relative to your actual contribution to the team.

Cons:

  1. what you consider the product of your work and yours alone may be seen as the result of a group effort. Then, again, you were probably not working on a remote island all by yourself.

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