We work in an insular world where most hiring is done based on personal connections. So how do you find the right campaign job if you’ve got a thin Rolodex? Start by making sure your resume is up to date.
Now, you could try submitting your resume to sites like Monster.com and HotJobs.com, but that isn’t usually where campaigns are looking. Just make sure you have a resume and it’s ready to go for when the moment strikes.
It helps to network in person. I routinely speak at campaign conferences across the country, including RootsCamp, CampaignTech East and others. To a varying degree, they’re a chance to learn from seasoned professionals and meet other people in the industry.
On the Left, Netroots Nation is a great conference to attend with many progressive organizers and leaders there from around the country. That’s nearly a year away, though, so RootsCamp in D.C. might be a better choice. There’s often a career fair as a part of the confab.
On the Right? Try CPAC, which is coming up in March. While waiting to attend a conference, make sure you hit up smaller, more frequent social events like happy hours to meet other people working in this space.
If you’re looking for advanced trainings and networking opportunities on the Left, Wellstone offers the Advanced Campaign Management School periodically. It’ll likely be offering Data and Digital BootCamps next year since they’ve taken over the New Organizing Institute. On the Right, the RNC offers the Republican Leadership Initiative.
Meanwhile, have a good LinkedIn profile, which should include the campaign jobs you’ve had before. Moreover, use the site to reach out and connect with people who you worked with on other races — even if it was in a volunteer position. Many people change positions or locations but stay in the campaign world so you never know who you’ll run into again – or who will give you an assist into your next job.
It’s also good to have an active Facebook and Twitter account to keep you top of mind with your more distant connections. Some experts say that many jobs are landed through networking with your “weak” ties, not your closest circle of friends. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites don’t generally have the career focus that LinkedIn does, but it’s still useful for maintaining campaign friendships with people scattered afar.
Another way to get leads is through the various job lists out there. But set your expectations appropriately: Many choice positions will never be posted publicly. Still, on the Left there’s Democratic GAIN, Jobs That Are Left, Idealist, NOI Jobs, which are mainly tech focused, EMILY’s List Jobs Bank, Union Jobs and Progressive Exchange.
Finally, check in periodically with people you know in the campaign world. Hiring goes on sporadically and if you’re lucky, you might happen to connect at the right time.
Laura Packard is a partner at PowerThru Consulting, a Democratic digital strategy and web development firm. Sometimes she tweets out about job postings @lpackard