If a current political issue in your community is important to you, or you are a strong supporter of a candidate for public office, this could be an opportunity to accomplish two important goals: help your issue or candidate get more visibility and expand your network to help your job search.
I call this political-partying your way to a new job.
Working on political campaigns is seldom something you get paid for, unless you are highly skilled and experienced in running those campaigns. But, for someone who is unemployed, a political campaign can be a golden volunteering opportunity, even if your cause or candidate ultimately doesn’t win. Perhaps it may be the start of a new career?
People make lasting friendships, create new businesses or expand their client base, and even land jobs (inside government and outside).
During the campaign, if you have the right experience and expertise, a (very!) few positions may actually come with a salary.
Landing a paid position depends on the campaign, your skill set, your timing, and the budget, obviously, but you could get lucky. You won’t know if you don’t try.
Starting Your Personal Campaign
How can you political party your way to your next job?
1. Find a candidate or cause you truly support.
Track down the appropriate website for the candidate or cause, and click on the “volunteer” or “join” link.
There will probably be committees focused on different aspects of the campaign. Join the one most logical for you, if you can.
The needs of the campaign may take priority over what you want to do, at least initially, but perhaps you can transition from a job that isn’t what you really want to one that is, once you have proven that you are a good solid performer.
2. Build a reputation as a solid, dependable volunteer.
Even if you don’t land one of the paid positions, build your reputation as a key volunteer.
Work hard, be on time, and be reliable. Take your volunteer assignments seriously — as seriously as though you were being paid to do them. Complete tasks on time and professionally. You will stand out from the many people who are not reliable.
3. Do some personal marketing.
Without being obnoxious, share your resume with the senior staff. Offer it as useful information for them. Suggest that it will help them determine how you can contribute most effectively to the campaign.
If no one asks for your resume, give (or e-mail) copies of your resume to key people at the top of the campaign staff as soon as you can. Make it clear that you are giving them your resume so they can make the most effective use of your knowledge, skills, and experiences.
If you email your resume, include a short “cover letter” highlighting your areas of expertise and experience or education that are relevant to the campaign. They may not read your message or remember, so, also, tell them what you can do to help the campaign.
When someone asks you what you do for a living — assuming you are unemployed — tell them this:
“I’m currently between paid assignments, getting ready for my next great job opportunity as a [fill in the blank with the specific job you want and the employer or employers you have targeted].”
Stay positive about what you have accomplished, where you have worked, and your future.
4. Build your professional network.
After the election, people usually scatter, so before the election, start preparing for post-election networking.
Make note of the people you like and respect and also the ones who could be good networking contacts for you. Share contact information as you work together, and connect on LinkedIn.
If you don’t already have cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses from others, start collecting that information for post-election networking.
If there isn’t an electronic group for the volunteers and campaign staff, offer to set one up. It’s also easy to start a LinkedIn Group so everyone can stay in touch. If you do set up a group, make sure everyone knows about it.
5. Post-election give and take (true networking).
When the election is over, update your resume and LinkedIn Profile to reflect your accomplishments working on the campaign.
Then, hand out (or e-mail) updated copies of your resume to the people with whom you worked. Ask your fellow volunteers for their resumes. Then, stay in touch and help each other get those next great jobs.
The “UP” Side
Volunteering for a cause or candidate you believe in offers many positives:
- You will be making a contribution to our county and our society, hopefully.
- You will meet new people – new contacts for your expanding personal network – people with whom you will have something important in common. Don’t lose track of them. LinkedIn, Yahoo, etc. can be very helpful for that.
- You will learn new things and have new skills to add to your resume.
- You may collect enthusiastic recommendations and/or people to use as references in your job search.
- If you are unemployed and asked about the “gap” on your resume between your last job and your next one, you will have a great story to tell.
- You have a great excuse to hand out your resume to people who may be in a position to hire you after the election is over.
- You will feel better about yourself, be more confident, and better connected, even if your candidate loses.
The “Down” Side
Your stand on a controversial issue or in support of a specific candidate may make people on the “other side” unhappy with you. The question is whether or not you would have been happy working for someone who does not support the person or cause that you do. Maybe yes; maybe no.
At the end of the process, you may have succeeded in getting your candidate elected or your cause advanced. Even if your side loses, you will have greatly expanded your personal network and, also, your understanding of how our government really works.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
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