The midterm elections are over, we’re into a new year and everyone is already getting ready for 2016. This is the perfect time to make a career move. So how do you decide what your next step should be?
First, think about the kind of work you want to do, the hours you want to work, whether you want to focus on numerous projects or one, and whether you want to expand your knowledge base or put your current skills to use.
The most important part is figuring out what really moves you. Do you work in finance currently? Do you like it? If not, do you want to try research or maybe tracking? If you like the kind of campaign work you’re currently doing, set a goal of moving up the ladder. If you were deputy digital director on a congressional campaign last cycle, you should be able to land a gig as a digital director this cycle. Alternatively, start exploring opportunities at digital firms, who may start adding staff as the 2016 cycle starts to gear up.
If you’re not crazy about analytics, but you enjoyed the communications aspects of digital, look for a mid-level communications job. There’s no sense in staying in an area of politics you don’t enjoy, and now’s the opportune time to make a switch.
Second, make sure to consider the kind of hours and the environment in which you want to work. As we all know, hours on campaigns are long, and if you just came off a grueling midterm campaign, there’s no shame in looking for a job that doesn’t have you glued to your smartphone at midnight. Other people enjoy the long hours and fast-paced environment of campaign life. So take some time to figure out whether you need a break right now, or whether you’re best suited to jump right back in. It’s a decision you need to get right if you want to retain your sanity through the next election cycle.
Are you a multi-tasker? Or do you like focusing your energy on one project at a time? If you want to put your energy into one primary area, you might prefer working for a candidate or a candidate’s PAC. If you like having your hands in lots of different projects, direct your job search efforts toward consulting firms, as you’ll likely be working with numerous clients.
When thinking about the kind of work you want to pursue, take into consideration your knowledge base. If you want to gain more foundational knowledge in your area, look for a boss who can double as a mentor. Maybe you work in field, but want to learn more before you have a lot of autonomy with your job. In that case, you should consider being a field representative or deputy field director for a campaign. You could also work at a consulting firm where you would have a boss to show you the ropes.
On the other hand, you might have gained quite a bit of knowledge last cycle and want to move somewhere that would give you creative freedom so you could test some strategies. Maybe you gained a great deal of digital knowledge and want to move somewhere that’ll allow you to integrate innovative digital strategies into the organization or campaign.
These are the things you should be thinking about when deciding your next steps. If you think you know where you’d like to work, but don’t necessarily have the contacts to get you right in the door, don’t be afraid to just contact the campaign or organization and ask about openings. And don’t forget to check out political job banks.