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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Overqualifications for Political Jobs

If you want a political job, you want to look like the perfect fit for an opening.

A common mistake made by recent graduates is to list everything they're an expert in, they present themselves as policy wonks, campaign hacks, media professionals and fundraising mavens all in one. They try to come across as a little bit of everything, when you should instead try to be really good at one or a few things.

When you send in a resume or complete an application for a campaign or a political organization and they ask your life plans, don't say you want to be a Foreign Service Office or Embassy Staff in a foreign land utilizing your masters degree in international relations. You're admitting that you'll never fully apply yourself to the job in front of you because your other plans are elsewhere. You're admitting that your real qualifications are in another area, and this is a backup.

No hiring manager wants to think or know that you're using their campaign or organization as a placeholder, as something to do until something better came along.

I once had a volunteer coordinator make clear to me on a daily basis, as the campaign manager, that he was excited by a larger campaign and ready to go with them once a position for him opened up. I kept him because I didn't have anyone else for that role, or I would have let him go.

No one wants someone who is going to be leaving at their first opportunity. They want to fill a position and hope the person stays as a part of the team for a long time. Instead of a great person for six months, they'd rather have a decent person for four years.

Retool your resume to make sure it seems like your interests and your future are synonymous and in line with the job you're applying for, let the hiring manager know that you'll take the job seriously. Don't look unnecessarily overqualified, don't flaunt your credentials. Highlight the things that are directly relevant for the job you're applying for.

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