By Bret Bernhardt
In this series, we’ve talked about the best way to land a job on the Hill and offered some helpful tips on how to do that.
While a great network, a pertinent resume, and a successful interview are important, the greatest likelihood of getting a Hill job will happen one of two ways … working or volunteering on a campaign, or interning for a member or committee.
These seemingly lesser jobs are the primary feedstock for full-time positions on Capitol Hill. All of the advice we’ve covered so far applies to these positions as well.
In my previous posts, we’ve covered the fact that your best job lead will likely come from an unexpected place, like one of your peers. Your resume should be tailored to the position you are seeking and contain a golden reference (someone who knows both you and the person for whom you hope to work).
You’ve also got nine valuable tips for the all-important interview, and now all you need is a helpful list of resources in finding your Capitol Hill job.
“The greatest likelihood of getting a Hill job will happen one of two ways … working or volunteering on a campaign, or interning for a member or committee.”
It wasn’t long ago that there were a limited number of resources to draw upon when seeking a job on Capitol Hill. Now, however, there are ample resources, most of which are accessible online.
In building this list, I talked to Matt Buckham, who works at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), as its Director of Recruitment and Outreach.
Matt is one of the best in town when it comes to finding jobs and matching them to the best candidates for employers and job seekers. As the name of the institute implies, he does this for conservative talent.
He says, while these resources are helpful, it’s important to remember that the best resources are people.
“It wasn’t long ago that there were a limited number of resources to draw upon when seeking a job on Capitol Hill. Now, however, there are ample resources, most of which are accessible online.”
As a chief of staff, this was true for me. My most valuable resources were people or organizations that I knew, relationships I trusted. That’s why it’s so important, as I mentioned in my previous post, that the golden recommender is someone who knows both you and your prospective employer.
I would check these resources from time to time, but I would encourage you not to place too much emphasis on them. This list includes those resources with which I am most familiar. There are many more besides these, but I can confidently recommend these.
I begin with the one I’m most familiar with, the Conservative Partnership Institute. Others include:
Leadership Institute’s ConservativeJobs.com
Brad Traverse (subscription)
Senate Republican Steering Committee: While it doesn’t maintain a resume or job bank, the staff are an excellent source of advice and information.
House and Senate Listservs: This is an excellent way to get your resume to the right people. There are Listservs for most positions in the House and Senate such as Schedulers, Office Managers, Chiefs of Staff, etc. Ask one of the list members you know or meet if they can distribute your resume to their list.
LinkedIn: While not a job or resume bank per se, it is an important tool for prospective employers to view your profile. So, make sure yours is up to date and well done.
As we conclude this series on jobs, it’s important to remember that it takes patience and waiting on the Lord for the opportunity that will lead to your job.
This was true in my case when I came to Washington a couple years after college expecting to land a job. As it turned out, I got some sage advice recommending that I go to work on a campaign back home and help the candidate get elected and then come to D.C. that way.
At the time this seemed like a convoluted way to get a job on the Hill. I went back to Oklahoma forgetting about working in Washington. I took a job working for the state party and there happened to meet a number of candidates running for office.
Among them was a young state senator running for the U.S. Senate, Don Nickles. He won the race and, because of my work at the state party, he asked me to come to work for him in D.C., which I did.
Ironically, this is exactly the advice I received in Washington but had dismissed at the time. As I stated earlier, the best pathway for a job on the Hill is either working on a campaign or serving as an intern.
Everyone’s path is unique, as will be yours. Trust that the Lord will light your path and guide you in all your important decisions in life, including your career.
Bret Bernhardt served on the Hill as chief of staff to senators Don Nickles of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina. He is now a member of the board of directors of Faith & Law and the Conservative Partnership Institute.
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