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There's an easy way to get an instant raise on any political job, a hidden bit of knowledge that will give you thousands of dollars at your next job offer, buying and reading this book will give you that nugget. Buy the book now, to learn how to make more working a job in politics that you love. Tips, ideas and suggestions can be sent to:

Friday, February 24, 2012

When campaigns implode: Lessons from the Rick Perry campaign

Rick Perry is looking at this blog entry in amazement of its prescience
The implosion of the Rick Perry campaign offers many powerful insights into political campaigns. From reading these two articles, you can see many of the tensions we've described before in the book and here on the blog. The temptation is to just cover your ass as thoroughly and quickly as possible, but sometimes being on a campaign means going down gracefully and not acting foolish. How you act when you lose or suffer defeats is a good indication of character, and be careful at how you act.

Here are the two relevant stories for consideration:

Here's what seems clear from those stories:

1- Perry had relied on younger, untested staffers in Texas
2- The candidate's wife was overinvolved and made the decision to supplant the younger staff
3- Outside consultants were brought in from DC
4- These consultants never had clear authority and never fit well into the hierarchy
5- The staff resented the replacement of ineffective, but well-liked, prior leadership
6- The younger prior leaders were making moronic moves, like spending money in New Hampshire instead of focusing on Iowa and South Carolina
7- The younger staff were unable to separate out their personal political positions from the best interests of the candidate
8- The younger staff lacked the political capital to demand Perry do serious debate prep
9- No one seemed to have control over the campaign
10- No one had control over the office
11- The leadership did not understand social media and new technology
12- The younger staff has, now, immaturely lashed out at campaign decisions
13- The younger staff has also apparently fraudulently placed $3,000 of expenses on a former consultant and take it as a point of pride.
14- The new leader, Allbaugh, made a choice to stick with the DC consultants (who were probably friends and business acquaintances), rather than side with a young team around Perry.

If you act like the young team, you will never get hired again. The Rick Perry staff have been leaking and causing a real mess for Governor Perry, putting into question his ability to manage a team. This is not an appropriate way to resolve these issues, it's the messy way in which battling teams jockey to place blame.

There were two camps at war in the Perry camp: the young team who had been with him as governor, and the DC consultants. Every campaign has these exact same pressures, and it's very easy to let the divisions tear the team apart. Instead of managing a campaign to an at-least respectable performance in the primaries, the Perry team mismanaged their campaign into the dirt, making Perry seem less electable than Jon Huntsman. Instead of being a big plus on their resumes, this has now become a major liability. Instead of leaving quietly and respectfully, both sides have brought this into the media and made it a mess that will linger on Google searches for a decade.

Campaign dynamics are easy to criticize and extremely difficult to work effectively within. I wouldn't fault either side as a backseat driver, but the way they're handling their problems now offers important lessons to people starting out.

1) Don't speak to the media about internal campaign gossip, even after the campaign is over; 2) Do good work and respect the work of others; 3) Never trust consultants and be alarmed if they are brought in to replace the team; 4) Don't let office politics spiral out of control; 5) Never act in such a self-interested, selfish way as some of these staffers. A 3k bar tab shows that the staffers are untrustworthy, vindictive and immature. Being proud of that shows that you're not ready to be trusted with responsibility again.

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Recruiting College students

For most campaigns and groups, the idea of youth involvement is a hope and not a reality. Everyone wants young people involved, but very few know how to do it. People are ignorant into how to make it a system, because so few have actually had to do it, and when they did it, they didn't realize they were doing it.

Students are similar to any other kind of person, because they're in college doesn't mean they're that much different than normal working folks. But, a few important considerations first:

1) They often don't have a car or a good way to get around
2) Most are largely nocturnal, and sleep till 10am and go to bed at 2am.
3) They don't eat good food, and are usually stuck with awful cafeteria food
4) They are often poor, and unable to spend on anything perceived as extra like a campaign donation
5) Their attention spans are short
6) They are technically literate and active on social media
7) Most probably aren't used to the boredom of most menial tasks, such as on a campaign stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, updating websites, etc.
8) Most are interested and opinionated about politics, but haven't been involved with a real campaign

So, from that, we shouldn't expect college students to be donors. We shouldn't expect them to attend 8am fundraising breakfasts in a suburb. We shouldn't ask them to stuff envelopes in their first time to the campaign office. We shouldn't expect them to know how to set up a phone bank and calling center.

From that starting point, let's then ask how to find these students. They rarely just appear at your campaign office. You have to reach out to them. Start by attending functions on campus. They don't have to be political. If there's a speaker, show up. If there's a presentation or symposium, show up. Bring your business cards and a quarter-sheet. Talk to people. Tell them you're with the campaign but you saw this and was interested. Give them your contact information. Send them a follow-up email and keep in touch. In a short period of time you'll start meeting individual people. By expanding your social network, they'll introduce you to other people who might be interested in helping out the campaign.

You may not know anyone on the campus interested in helping your campaign, but the person you just met at the symposium does, and probably knows a dozen more.  Through them, you'll get introduced and referred. Ask to be introduced to other people, explain that you're looking for people who are interested in politics and getting involved. Tell them you also want to hear what students think about politics and will take them out to a free lunch whenever they're free.

The best recruitment tool I've ever had was the offer of a free burger. You don't have to go somewhere you consider fancy, just a local burger joint will work. Most students are poor and so going to the local burger joint is a real treat.

Use the free meal to build a professional relationship with them. Ask them what's going on at the campus, what people are talking about, what people think about your campaign, if anything. Most students are completely oblivious to what is going on in local politics. They're trained to think only of national affairs.

So, you want to find the people whom you can build a relationship with who will help out.

You can try and attend merely the college partisan groups, like the College Republicans, College Democrats or College Libertarians, but from experience many of those people want to be involved solely with federal campaigns. They want to launch their own political careers into Congress. Your campaign or cause might be too blase for them. Try it, it's worth trying, but don't be discouraged if it doesn't work.

If you have jobs to fill, or you know people who are hiring, definitely let the students know that fact. Don't overpromise or make false promises, but let them know that their work with you can lead to other opportunities. Show them the potential for their own success in politics.

Students can get great experience in politics and on campaigns. They can learn how to set up an organization, how to do marketing, how to make sales, how to fundraise, how to interact with the media. Virtually every aspect of business happens on a campaign in compressed time and with very real, measurable results: the election. Explain that to them. Tell them the skills they'll learn, and the many future opportunities for them.

Many students spend hours in class and have no idea where it will lead. They hope that their degree is valuable later, they hope that a job falls out of the sky for them. Show them that you have many opportunities for them, all dependent on hard work and consistent effort. They'll work hard if you can motivate them.

Your campaign can grow dramatically with the involvement of even a half dozen local college students. You can have a crew ready and able to do lit drops, make phone calls, and even fundraise. Your campaign can go from long-shot to front-runner just from this one source of talent. But it's not easy, there's no college-student switch to flip where they immediately show up.  You have to build a relationship and encourage them to get involved one by one. In time, your campaign or organization will benefit greatly from it.

That's how you recruit college students, by treating them like any other volunteer and recruiting them with free lunch, relationships over time, and clear opportunities presented to them.

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interview: How to get a Government Job

We spoke to a hiring manager within a state government agency to find out how you can get a government job. He spoke to us off the record, and gave some great ideas on how to stand out from the crowd of applicants in order to get hired by the government.

1. What are the most common mistakes you see in people applying to a government job?

Treating it like a private sector job application process.  In the private sector, the profit motive means that if there is a job that must be filled, there is financial incentive to fill it quickly with the most qualified person.  In government there is no such motivation so the process usually (not always) takes much, much longer.

2. How do you translate working on a campaign or for a candidate into a job with the government?

Most (not all) offices that you would help a candidate attain give them the opportunity to hire government employees.  Simply knowing the candidate (and/or their transition team) will give you an advantage simply because you have gained a rapport with the office holder.  However it is extremely important to keep in mind that most public offices these days only allow elected politicians to hire a limited amount of staff themselves.  The vast majority of government employees these days must go through some sort of civil service hiring process. 

3. Can you move between patronage jobs and civil service easily? If not, are there any tips you'd have for someone trying to make that move?

That depends on many factors.  What skills/qualifications do you have?  What are the job openings within the office? Etc.  As a general rule, it's easier to move into the more "entry-level" civil service jobs than it is into a "managerial" position.

Someone who wants to make that move (or have that option) should investigate what kind of jobs are available in the particular office they are trying to make the switch in (a Secretary of State office has many different kinds of Jobs than an Attorney General Office and so on).  They should then ensure they meet the qualifications and/or work towards meeting those qualifications.  For example, if you want a job that requires 2 years experience in scheduling meetings, then you should ensure that the patronage job description includes scheduling meetings as a job duty (and start scheduling some meetings)

Start early!  Learn how many people work in the office, when people expect to retire, who makes hiring decisions in various departments, etc. The days of having an elected official pick up the phone and get you a sweet job in the government are over!

4. Do people get government jobs even though they lack the explicit qualifications for the position? How do they jump those hurdles?

No.  There may be some variations in some states, but there are many laws in place to ensure that politicians do not resort to cronyism.  Think about any scandals involving politicians.  Inevitably, most of them involve the illegal hiring of friends/family.

However, keep in mind that many times the "qualifications" can be a very low bar to achieve (high school diploma, etc.)

5. I would assume that you have to be pretty senior on a campaign to warrant getting a patronage job, is that true?

Not at all.  If a new Governor has to hire a driver, the campaign manager is probably not going to want that job.  Politicians are like anyone else - they would prefer to hire someone they know.  You would be shocked at how many times I have personally seen politicians frustrated that they can't find someone to fill a entry-level job.  The $80,000-$120,000 Chief of Staff position is very easy to fill.  The $20,000-$40,000 Driver who is competent and willing to work long hours - That's hard to find.      

NOTE: Don't assume that because you worked on a campaign that you will be remembered a year later when a job opens up.  Follow up with your contacts in the office!  Let them know you're interested in a job every 6 months or so.  You don't have to be annoying, but if I don't know you are looking for a job I may not even think about you when we need to hire someone.

6. I've known people who follow the traditional route to getting a government job, filling out the online process, taking the tests, but they never hear back. What are they doing wrong?

Perhaps nothing.  I have personally known people that were hired 6 months after interviewing for a government job.  Sometimes the process takes a long, long time.

However, it's important to keep in mind that theses days government jobs are often the best jobs in town.  It is not uncommon for H.R. departments to get buried in resumes.  So in order to increase the odds that a real human being is going to read your resume, I would always recommend finding someone you know in the office to put in a good word for you to H.R.  This isn't a "good 'ol boy" network sort of thing.  More like some entry level H.R. employee has to weed through a stack of resumes three feet high.  If your resume can get to the pile where someone actually takes two minutes to read it, your chances of getting hired increase infinitely.

7. Is the government hiring during the recession? I've heard many places have hiring freezes?

Yes.  People retire, positions need to be filled.  Don't read/watch the news when looking for any job - but especially for a government job.  You don't care if "The Government" is hiring 10,000 people this month.  All you care about is if this one specific agency/department is hiring YOU. 

8. How stiff is the competition for openings in the government?

Fierce.  Thanks to our politicians on both sides of the isle, government jobs are often the highest paid, most secure, and easiest jobs in town.  Anyone who disagrees either:
   A) Works for the government and doesn't want to admit how sweet the gig is
   B) Has never looked at the parking lot of a government building from 4:55 to 5:05pm on a tuesday.  - Lots of real nice cars all going home for the day.

9. Is it true that most government job openings aren't posted anywhere? Or that if they are, someone has usually already been hired to fill that spot and they're just going through the motions?

No.  That would be illegal in most (if not all) states. 

Yes, sometimes a job is someone's to loose.  But by law that's the exception, not the rule. 

Use common sense.  If the position is personal assistant to the Governor, and you've never met the guy/gal then you probably can assume that someone else will get that job.  

10. What can I do that will help me the most in finding a good government job?

   1) Know when openings are posted and apply to everything that you're qualified for.  Many states have websites that will e-mail you when new jobs are posted, use this service.

   2) Find people you know who work in a department/agency you want a job and seek their advice to what helps there.

11. Should I just take any job opening with the government and hope to transfer later? Does that work for people?

Perhaps.  "The Government" is not one organization.  I would suggest that if there is a job you really want and you have the opportunity to get a job in that area of government than by all means take it.

For example: If you want to be a lawyer in your state's Attorney General office and you are not getting hired as an Attorney, by all means take a job as a paralegal (or even a legal secretary) in the Attorney General's office.  If you do good work, and network - you'll be a shoe in to fill a legal position in the near future. 

However, if you want to be a lawyer in your state's Attorney General office, taking a job for the Department of Agriculture testing for bovine illnesses will not help you.

This of course is an extreme example, but the concept is plain.  Sometimes you will have to think outside of the box.  Say you want to get the above mentioned legal job, did you also apply to be a lawyer in the Secretary of State's office?  The Department of Treasury?  Department of Labor?  Getting a legal job at one of those places MAY help you get your dream job at the Attorney General's office, and/or you may find that working for an agency you hadn't considered is just as sweet. 

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Free Book! "Road to CEO" by Sharon Voros

I will send a copy of "Road to CEO" by Sharon Voros to any aspiring entrant to politics.

Goodreads' reviews of "Road to CEO"

This book is useful because, as I point out in my book, it shows you the skills and outward signs necessary to be successful. When you're in politics, appearances can be reality, and you want to always look like a winner.

This book helps you learn what it takes to look like a winner. We all have it within ourselves.

The only thing I ask is that if you make an effort to read the book within three months, and stay in touch with me to let me know how your job search progresses.

I only have one extra copy, so act fast. I won't send it to you if you're a bookstore.

Email me at to get this free book.

[I'll update this post when the book is claimed, so, yes, it's available until I post an update that it's claimed.]

Learn these kind of skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sample Persuasion Script

When making calls as a candidate, or as a caller in a call center, or as a manager running a call center, sometimes you need a quick and easy, generic script. So here's one you can use:
Hi, my name is [give first name], and I'm calling on behalf of the Lyndon Johnson for City Council campaign. 
Lyndon is the right candidate for the city of Springfield, and represents consistent progressive values. He has spent his life in public service, first as a teacher and then as an elected official. He will listen to your concerns and respond quickly to any issue you put in front of him. He listens to people and is a friend of the community. He wants to help improve local schools and specifically wants to end poverty in Springfield through building two new homeless shelters and also a major works program. He'll work to improve the city and the citizens within. 
If you were voting today, would you vote for Lyndon Johnson for City Council, or for Richard Nixon, or are you undecided? 
Thank you for your time and we hope we can count on your support.
You ask them for their vote, you are assertive but not aggressive, and you genuinely listen to any issues or concerns that are brought up. Be very good about keeping a database and coding as much of what you hear from voters as you can, and about keeping your callers friendly, smiling and dialing.

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.