Authors note: As campaign season comes to a close, the grand game of musical chairs that is searching for a political job has commenced. While it can certainly be scary to look for a job in a new city, a little faith and lot of know-how will get you through. Check out Margo's post on finding a political job in DC!
Political Job Search: So Many Happy Hours, So Little Time
Here at TCW, we are fortunate enough to work with some really fantastic folks across the country. From campaign managers to photographers to data people and more, we partner with other supporting players to help our clients win. At the end of the cycle, and during an odd year, we often get asked by some of these folks for help in a DC-based political job search. Here are a few tips I often give people who are looking to land a political job in our nation’s capital:
- Maintain your networks. DC is still a pretty small town, and most people in Democratic politics either know each other, or if not, only have a degree or 2 of separation. If you keep in contact with your network of people you know in DC, someone is bound to hear of a great political job that’s just opening up.
- Inform your networks. Again, everybody knows almost everybody here. If you have a dream political job in mind, shoot your network an email letting them know, and asking if they know anyone at that office. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, months after the fact, that someone tried to get a job somewhere I could have been helpful in getting him or her an introduction, or even a coffee with a friend who works there.
- Be direct in your asks. People want to help you land somewhere great, trust me. It’s good karma, and you may get a chance to work together again, so don’t feel bad about asking for help. Just be specific in your ask and grateful for their help. Do you want an introduction for an informational interview with your contact’s LinkedIn connection? Have you applied for a political job and want them to put in a good word on your behalf? Be direct, and be gracious and polite. You won’t get anywhere in this town without those skills.
- Go to everything you can. When I was looking for a political job after I first moved to DC, I would have attended the opening of a paper bag if I thought it could get me a new contact in progressive politics. If you hear about a happy hour or an interesting lunch talk, as long as you aren’t crashing, I say attend. You never know whom you will meet, or whom they will know. Bring business cards and a winning attitude.
- Sign up for job listservs. There are a number of great listservs that seek to connect great progressives with great progressive jobs. Democratic GAIN has a political job board, and Jobs that are Left is a Google group that shares political job opportunities. The DSCC, DNC and DCCC also have resume drops a few times a year, and NOI has a job matching program called Work Forward. Looking for a job can be lonely and frustrating, but by using these resources and making connections with other political job seekers, it doesn’t have to be.
Lastly, here’s a bonus tip that applies across the board: follow up. I asked some folks what their biggest pet peeve about job seekers is and it was that many people who go for informational interviews with them never follow up after. The goal of meeting someone is to develop a relationship, but it seems folks just get a meeting and never keep in touch afterward. That is a missed opportunity, period. Any other tips for DC political job seekers out there? How did you land a political job in DC? Add your tips in the comments.