Buy the book!
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:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Always Vote Early

It's easy, simple and legal. Find the time to walk in and vote, and do so. Some areas ask for a justification for voting early, but most places are happy to ease the congestion on election day.

This frees you to work all-day-long on election day, helping to turn out the vote, calling through a voter file to make sure all of your identified people are voting.

Use the ease with which you can vote early to give you the flexibility to work every extra second on election day.

Sometimes a race comes down to the one thing you didn't do:

Always vote early. Spend all day on election day making sure your candidate, cause or referendum prevails.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Free Images relevant for Political Graphic Design

A great graphic designer in DC working for a political magazine was kind enough to share this list of free image sites, I've provided his list below.

(Some images are high-res and big, others are smaller; be sure to note the license terms that accompany photos, as some require a photo credit on the page.)

(SOME images at Flickr are explicitly available for public use, but you have to check the terms of any image you’re considering to make sure. Look for “Creative Commons.”)

Library of Congress,

UTOPIA — Portrait Gallery (U.Texas),

Hi-Res Movie Photos (promotional stills of movies from about 2002 or so): 

White House:  
LOTS more here:

US Military Photos

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency,  



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Don't say you were a 'consultant' on a resume

It always looks weird. Unless you own your own consulting company, it sounds like a stand-in for a time period in your life where you were unemployed.

It's better to say you were a 'writer' during that period, or a 'researcher' or 'research assistant' than merely a 'consultant.' Everyone in politics is a 'consultant' until they get a real job. Avoid the designation. And most professional consultants are douches,

Even if you were legitimately a consultant during a period of your professional life, find another way to list it.

Use a euphemism. Here are a few: contractor, part-time staff, advisor, freelancer, counsel, mentor, specialist -- any of those are better than "consultant."

If you must use the c-word on your resume, at least qualify it with the type of consulting you've done. Perhaps you were a 'fundraising consultant' or a 'leadership consultant' or a 'programs consultant' or a 'voter ID and turnout consultant' - those all make you sound like you know what you're doing. They make you sound like you've thought out your skill set and aren't trying to be a generalist.

What are some specific skills in politics? How about: graphic design, marketing, sales, data, research, writing, opposition research, media, fundraising, direct mail writing, voter identification, voter contact, recruitment, managing volunteers, etc. -- Figure out your best specialties and be sure to promote those skills, you'll look much better as a result.

When you say you were a consultant, you sound like you were unemployed. And you sound like you're a generalist without any specific, usable, marketable skills.

Avoid the 'consultant' word to describe a period of employment. Instead, use a better word, or a more focused one. By showing a specialty for one thing, you seem valuable even if the job ends up using you in a different role. Don't try to be everything to everyone, show potential employers that you have specific skills relevant to politics.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Article: Shouting "Liar" in politics is bad for everyone

Though the Wall Street Journal is typically on the political right, this article applies equally to both partisan sides, and even to third parties. Shouting that your opponent is a liar once might be a good tactical move. When everyone is shouting it repeatedly at one another, it starts to affect the body politic.

In any case, it's an interesting article and a good opportunity for introspection on your campaign strategy and communication protocols:

Our colleague Dan Henninger has an important column today on the left's increasing--really, routinized--resort to the charge that its opponents are "liars." We'd like to expand on some of his points.
Henninger observes that "explicitly calling someone a 'liar' is--or used to be--a serious and rare charge, in or out of politics. It's a loaded word. It crosses a line. 'Liar' suggests bad faith and conscious duplicity--a total, cynical falsity." That's true, when the word is used by adults, though it's also a schoolyard taunt: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" This columnist tends to agree with Henninger that the "resurrection of 'liar' as a political tool is odious," but we're ambivalent. It also strikes us as infantile, and as such hard to take altogether seriously.
In fact, one cause of the panic now seizing Obama's media acolytes is the intuition that shrieking "LIAR!!!!" is an ineffective tactic. Here's Kevin Drum of Mother Jones:
Romney is lying about his tax plan and he knows it. When he's called on it, however, he turns around and smears the folks who pointed out his lie.
Pretty rancid stuff. On a political level, though, the interesting question is whether there's any way for Obama to make hay with this. The dispiriting answer, I think, is that he probably can't.
Drum's argument is that voters aren't bright enough to understand. In order to "make hay," Obama would have "to somehow hammer home the math. Color me skeptical that there's any way to do that for your average undecided voter, who can probably balance his checkbook but not much more." (As an aside, is math really Obama's strong suit?)

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.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The one question a referral will ask when recommending you...

"Will referring this guy make me look bad?"

How can you make a reference look bad? You can show up late, you can be a mess, a slob, unable to work with others. There are many ways to mess up a job situation in politics.

But people want to help you. They want you to succeed, and they want to do favors. As I say in the book, even people you only know in passing will often help you out, because it makes them look good to pass along good names.

You need to make sure that you look like a good candidate, like someone who will work hard and deliver results.

Politics is often just a game where doing a good job means showing up on time and regularly, and having a basic competence while not causing drama. You can go far without special skills, you can succeed by being a good employee.

When you meet with potential referrers, people who can link you up with other positions, you should strive to come off like a solid worker, a capable and competent worker.

A friend recently told me about a friend of theirs looking for work in my area, let's call him Charlie. Unprompted, I offered to help this fellow find a position and was willing to ask around to try and find an unannounced opening for him. But then I realized that Charlie had been a real jerk in the past about some trivial issues in the past. As well, my friend said pretty bluntly that Charlie was likely to do a lackluster job and was a bit of a mess.

These are the kind of blunt statements and assessments people make, and they are discussions and deliberations which can either open or close many doors for you. Thinking about it, I realized I couldn't refer Charlie without looking bad. Finding an opening and passing his name and resume along would come back to bite me later.

Avoid this situation by working hard to come across as a strong worker, a motivated employee, and as someone willing to put in long hours for honest pay. You want to be a competent person who avoids office politics and drama. When you do that, people you don't even know will want to help you find a job in politics.

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.