How to Find a Political Campaign Job
Five Quick Tips for Landing Your Next Political Campaign Job
As someone who has gone through the daunting task of political job hunting not too long ago, I know how tough it can be to land a political campaign job—especially your first. With so many newly minted undergraduate, graduate, and even law school grads hunting for jobs in the same market, it can sometimes be an overwhelming and discouraging undertaking. But in the end, all your efforts will be worth it. Sooner or later, most successful campaigns will need to hire a full team and even a political consulting firm, and you just have to make sure you get your name out there for consideration. Here are the tips I learned along my journey to landing a political campaign job, and how you can do the same.
1. Build and use your network:
The best piece of advice I received when trying to find my first political campaign job is to network, network, network. If you are a college student, this may mean joining and networking within your university’s College Democrats club or forming relationships with professors in the political science department. If you’re out of college, this may mean joining your town’s Democratic club or volunteering for a local candidate, allowing you to meet the people most involved in, and therefore with a certain level of power in, local politics. Every year, most campaigns are desperate for cheap, young campaign staff who are willing to work long hours for low wages. Once you get involved and demonstrate that you are hungry for work and hard-working, it won’t be long before a political campaign job opportunity presents itself.
2. Start out volunteering:
If you can’t seem to land a job on a political campaign, a good place to start is by volunteering for a political campaign. Not only will this help expand your network and meet people who can connect you to paid positions in the future, but it will also look good on your resume. Political campaigns want to hire people who have proven they are committed to the cause of getting Democrats elected and who are willing to work hard.
3. Look at job boards and sign up for listservs:
Although networking and volunteering can get you many opportunities, most people you make connections with are not going to job hunt for you. If they hear of an opportunity they will send it to you, but most interviews and job opportunities will come from religiously checking job boards and keeping your ear and eyes open for new opportunities. Be prepared. Have your cover letter, references, and resume ready to send. Somewhere among the countless pieces of advice I received for finding a job, one little comment stuck with me. You want to be one of the first people to send in their application so that there is a bigger chance the employer will look at your resume. Would you rather be the first person to apply or the 250th?
Some great job boards and listservs for political jobs in DC include:
- Tom Manatos
- Traverse Jobs
- Jobs That Are Left
- GAIN POWER
- Senate Employment Bulletin
- House Vacancy Announcements
You can also register your resume with the U.S. House and Senate Placement Service.
4. Attend a training program:
Another way to expand your network while also building the skills to work on a political campaign is to attend a training. Some organizations that offer campaign staff and management training opportunities include:
5. Be persistent:
More than anything, the best thing that you can do when looking to land a political campaign job is to be persistent. For one, this will demonstrate your tenacity. But more importantly, it will make sure you are not forgotten about. The world of political campaigning is very hectic, and even if a campaign is very interested in hiring you, actually going through the process is almost certainly at the bottom of their list. Don’t give up after an unanswered email. Be persistent—it will pay off.
If you get contacted to run a race or operate in a higher capacity on a race in another part of the country, take it. You can always come back after the cycle and try again. I did this twice and many of my friends did as well. There will always be political jobs in DC, so don't be afraid to explore other options early on in your career.
Have more questions about how to land your first, or next, political campaign job? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line.