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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jobs that don't get advertised

In the book, I described the phenomenon of jobs that don't get advertised in politics. Or the positions that get offered without an application.

I recently offered a position to someone at a conference unrelated to the job, at dinner. They accepted.

It was to be the field director for a statewide referendum. I had a stack of resumes to call through, and I was happy with the applicants, but they weren't outstanding.

But the student I was meeting with was very impressive. And I want to tell you why he was impressive:

1- He was motivated
2- He was curious, and genuinely wanted to know how to be more effective
3- He observed things and came to the right conclusions, knew who was all talk and who were hard workers. He could spot the people who were fake
4- He wasn't afraid to tell me what issues he cared about in politics, and which ones he didn't care about

There are many good lessons that are likely helpful here for you in your political job search. The most important thing is that many jobs aren't listed.

If you can impress someone at a conference, you'll often find yourself with a job. It takes a lot of trust to take that job, and change your plans, but opportunities can arrive unexpectedly like that: over dinner.

Look good. Be sharp. Sell yourself. Be willing to take advice and criticism, and figure out your passions. At the same conference I met several people who couldn't tell me what political issues they cared about, or they had some ridiculous answer to that question. If you don't care about anything, you sound like a hack. And no one wants to hire a hack. If you are passionate about obscure issues, you sound like you're some nut who lacks perspective.

There were people at our dinner table who didn't want to engage with me, and that's fine, but I had jobs to offer and wasn't going to recommend just anyone for this position. I wanted to find someone motivated, curious and who was right for the position. And I was upset that I was going to be stuck sifting through a stack of resumes.

No hiring manager wants to do interviews. No one wants to spend the time doing interviews and tell four people no and one person yes. People want to find the right person and invest in them. Campaigns want to meet an individual person and hire them, bringing them into the team right away.

Only by going to political events and conferences can you find opportunities like this. Only by meeting and engaging with speakers and presenters can you find out what hidden opportunities are out there. If you don't show up, you'll never know. If you show up and don't talk to people, you'll never know. If you show up, talk to people, and come across as a weirdo or as a mess, you'll never know.

You owe it to your career to get out there, meet people, make connections, look sharp and come off well, and find those hidden jobs.

I told this story recently to another hiring manager, and his first comment was, "why didn't you tell me you had some good people, I have some positions I need filled, send these people my way!"


There are jobs, even in this horrible economy. You can find good positions if you get out there and meet the right people. The skills in the book will help refine you to be a solid job candidate, buy the book today.

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