Politics

Looking for a Job in Democratic Politics

Looking for a Job in Democratic Politics

Job Search and Resume Tips for Democrats

With the inauguration of a Democratic president and such huge wins for Democrats in the last election, it would seem that there should be an over-abundance of jobs for Democrats. However, that is not necessarily the case. For both Democrats coming off the campaign trail and newbies looking to break into Democratic politics, it can be a tough job market.

It is important to understand which job searcher category you fall into and to design a resume fitting of that category. There are, primarily, three types of Democratic politics job searchers right now: Seasoned Democratic Campaign Veterans, Entry-Level Democratic Campaign Staffers, and Democratic Politics Newbies.

The Seasoned Democratic Campaign Veteran is the job-seeker most familiar with dealing with the pitfalls of odd years – a.k.a. the years with few campaigns. This job-seeker has two or more election cycles under their belt and has just finished working in a senior staff role on one of the many 2008 or later campaigns.

For this job-seeker, the trick is to reformat that campaign resume and make it more friendly for legislative, advocacy, and nonprofit employers. The skills are similar, but what you emphasize will be different. You want to focus on your issue persuasion and policy skills, research and writing skills, coalition-building skills, communications and media skills, and fundraising skills. While field experience is still relevant and important, your next job likely won’t involve managing a large team of field organizers, meeting high volunteer recruitment goals, or playing with targeting spreadsheets and precinct maps. Don’t be afraid to deviate from a chronological resume and don’t let your job titles define you. You may find the need to have multiple resumes – a legislative resume, an advocacy resume, a communications resume, etc.

Possible positions for a Seasoned Democratic Campaign Veteran include:

  • Program Director for a nonprofit or advocacy organization.
  • Legislative Assistant for a member of Congress
  • Outreach Director for a member of Congress’s district office
  • Consultant for a political consulting firm
  • External Organizing Director for a labor union

The Entry-Level Democratic Campaign Staffer is either someone who graduated from college in 2007/2008 and worked in an entry-level position on a 2008/2012/2016/2020 campaign, or is someone experienced in another career field who transitioned to an entry-level campaign position in this past election cycle.

This job-seeker is perhaps in the best position when it comes to quickly landing another Democratic political job. They likely have experience besides just working on campaigns and won’t be boxed into the “irrelevant campaign staff” category sometimes applied the seasoned campaign applicants by prospective employers that are political in nature but not a campaign. For this job-seeker’s resume, you want to be sure to include all relevant political experience, including internships, volunteer activities (i.e. Volunteer for Sierra Club), and organizational memberships (i.e. Member of College Democrats). And just like with the Seasoned Democratic Campaign Veteran, you want to be sure to emphasize the appropriate skills. For the entry-level campaigner that made the jump from another career field, you are better off with a skills-based resume. For the recent grad entry-level campaigner, you should stick to one resume, one page, and a chronological listing of experience.

Possible positions for an Entry-Level Democratic Campaign Staffer are:

  • Program Assistant for a nonprofit or advocacy organization
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  • Legislative Correspondent or Staff Assistant for a member of Congress
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  • Organizer or Research Assistant for a labor union

The Democratic Politics Newbie is someone who has never been paid staff for anything political, but is looking to make a career change and join the ranks of those earning a living by working in Democratic politics.

This job-seeker must first evaluate their relevant and translatable skills and then create a strong, skills-based resume. Figure out what category where your skills are strongest and most relatable – organizing, communications, web/IT, finance, etc. – and build your resume and job search around those marketable skills. It is especially important to include any and all political-oriented volunteer activities (i.e. Neighborhood Organizer for Obama) and memberships (Member of Henderson Democratic Club). Additionally, you must conduct your job search with the understanding and realization that you might have to take a couple of steps down from the positions you held in your other career field.

Tips for all Democratic job-seekers:

  • Be patient. The commonly heard phrase right now is: “Hurry up and wait.”
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  • Network, network, network. Many political positions never get posted on job sites.
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  • Don’t inflate or change your job title.
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  • Know your references and make sure they have good things to say about you.
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  • Do list skills – computer and language (if applicable) – on your resume.
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  • Make your position descriptions action-oriented.
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  • Objectives are old-fashioned and unnecessary.
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  • Do not put “references available upon request” or list your references on your resume.
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  • Always bring a copy of your references on a separate sheet of paper with you to an interview.
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  • You want your resume layout to be as attractive as your skills.
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  • Always bring at least two copies of your resume to an interview.
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  • What you do in your spare time has no place on your resume.
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  • Use an email address that includes your name.
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  • Spell check, spell check, spell check.
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  • Save your resume using a title that includes your first name, last name, and “resume”.
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  • Always, always, always include a cover letter when submitting your resume.
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  • When submitting a resume via email, the body of the email is your cover letter.
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  • Spend time crafting a tailored cover letter for each position to which you are applying.
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  • Always, always, always send a thank you letter after an interview.

Job search sites:

  • Democratic GAIN – www.democraticgain.org
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  • Jobs That Are LEFT – groups.google.com/group/jobsthatareleft
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  • Union Jobs Clearinghouse – www.unionjobs.com
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  • National Organizer’s Alliance – noacentral.org/page.php?id=89
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  • Idealist – www.idealist.org/if/as/Job
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  • New Organizing Institute – www.neworganizing.com/wiki/index.php/Job_Info
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  • NOI Jobs – groups.google.com/group/noi-jobs
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  • Emily’s List – jobbank.emilyslist.org/apps/www/index.php/jobbank/register
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  • Brad Traverse Group – www.bradtraverse.com/joblistings.cfm
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  • RC Jobs – www.rcjobs.com
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  • Hill Zoo – www.hillzoo.com
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  • Opportunity Knocks – www.opportunityknocks.org
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  • Nonprofit Career Network – www.nonprofitcareer.com
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  • Care 2 – jobs.care2.com/a/all-jobs/list
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  • Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire – politics.jobamatic.com/a/jobs/find-jobs
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  • Craig’s List (search the nonprofit job category) – www.craigslist.org
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  • Exec Searches – www.execsearches.com/non-profit-jobs/advanced-nonprofit-job-search.asp
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  • Policy Jobs – www.policyjobs.net
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  • Political Jobs – www.politicaljobs.net
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  • Dem Work – www.demwork.com
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  • Public Service Careers – www.publicservicecareers.org
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  • American Society for Public Administration – www.aspanet.org
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  • Independent Sector – www.independentsector.org
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  • Nonprofit Times – www.nptimes.com/careers.html
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  • Feminist Career Center – www.feminist.org/911/jobs/911jobs.asp
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  • Politico – dyn.politico.com/politicojobs
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  • Government Jobs – www.governmentjobs.com
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  • Environmental Career – www.environmentalcareer.info/jobseekers
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  • Stop Dodo – www.stopdodo.com
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  • Political Science Job Rumors – www.poliscijobrumors.com
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  • American Association of Political Consultants – www.theaapc.org
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  • Political Resources – www.politicalresources.com
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  • Politics 1 – politics1.com/jobs.htm
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  • Nevada Progressives – groups.google.com/group/nevadaprogressives

Want to remain on the campaign trail? There are some campaign possibilities:

  • Municipal elections, including mayoral campaigns
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  • Numerous Congressional special elections, including New York, Illinois, and California
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  • McAuliffe for Governor (Virginia) – www.terrymcauliffe.com, resumes@terrymcauliffe.com
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  • Corzine for Governor (New Jersey) – www.corzineforgovernor.com

Once a Field Organizer, always a Field Organizer? Contact these organizations:

  • Work for Progress – www.workforprogress.com
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  • Public Interest Research Group – wwww.uspirg.org
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  • Grassroots Campaigns – www.grassrootscampaigns.com
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  • SEIU – www.seiu.org
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  • AFSCME – www.afscme.org
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  • FieldWorks – www.fieldworksonline.com

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