Numerous fresh grads with their public policy, political science, and degrees target their eyes at the Capitol Hill as their dream workplace to enter the political scene. They aspire to work their talking points, crafting legislation, and writing press releases.
But landing a coveted job with meaningful job descriptions doesn’t come to newbies. They have to start by mastering to make copies and coffee. When they do well on small tasks, only then do they get to work in the departments that they’ve dreamt of.
Landing a job at a congressional office is challenging. There’s cutthroat competition. Hundreds of people apply. How can you emerge triumphant amidst this pool of applicants? Check out these 5 strategies that can help you do that.
If you want to outshine the pile of resumes and cover letters, you need to meet the people who work on Capitol Hill. Most of the job applications at Capitol Hill are full of people who have great college degrees to land them a job at Capitol Hill. But if someone at Capitol Hill knows you, you can have a significant edge at landing the job!
You don’t have to do anything grand to make yourself noticed by someone working at Capitol Hill. You can simply schedule an appointment with the legislative director, have a chat with them, and make a good impression in their eyes.
Check your contacts and see if you know someone who works in the government. This connection can be via your college professor, your family friend, current employer, or anyone. The crux is to search for more than one path to reach a person in the congressional office’s hiring committee.
If you can’t find any relevant connect within your network, try to get a meeting appointment with your district director. Think of this meeting as a job interview and a learning experience for you. You probably won’t get the job after the meeting, but if you fail to make a good impression, you can certainly lose it. So, come well prepared!
1. Volunteer for Campaigns
If you’ve helped a person get elected in the American political landscape, they can help you land a job in the government. When a Democrat ousts a Republican, or vice-versa, there’s a huge amount of changes in the congressional office and staffers. While the campaign manager will have some of their picks for big jobs like legislative director, chief of staff, or communications officer, there will be many other jobs that you can easily acquire.
Not all the people, who helped win the campaign, will get the Capitol’s job right after winning. But if you’ve proved yourself to be hardworking and dedicated, you’ll stand a chance to getting a boost in your government career.
It can take a few campaigns to get yourself recognized, so don’t stop the great work. The job at the Capitol Hills awaits you!
2. Move to DC
Moving to Washington, DC is expensive and risky, especially when you’re jobless. But moving gives you an edge when Capitol Hill jobs are concerned.
Firstly, living in Washington, DC gives you a plethora of opportunities to meet and network with people who are doing well in the type of career you want to excel in. You can have a conversation with those people, inquire about their work, and let them know about your aspirations of working at the Capitol. They may help you link with someone looking for a person to a task that may deem fit for you.
Secondly, hiring managers at the Capitol Hill congressional office tend to interview people in nearby areas. If you’re in town, that gives you an edge that way. It also allows you the flexibility to schedule your meeting. Moreover, taking a metro to go for an interview is way faster than boarding a flight.
The only downside about moving is that you’ll have to find roommates, and you’ll have to live in a small apartment with more people than you expect. But remember that you’re in DC for your dream, and you realize that dream, you’ll have to make some sacrifices. Once you land an entry-level, low-paying job at the Capitol, you’ll still be living in the same apartment, so getting accustomed to it from before won’t be wrong.
3. Take Advantage of the Senate Placement Office
All congressional offices employ independently. There’s no designated HR department that supports Congress members in the hiring process. But they get some help from the Senate Placement Office.
Senate Placement Office plays two essential parts in the congressional hiring process. Firstly, they announce job vacancies through the Senate Employment Bulletin. Every job advertisement contains information regarding the application process, job duties, and employing committee. Secondly, the Senate Placement Office maintains a resume pool. The hiring managers in the congressional office seek the Senate Placement Office’s help to refer the best candidates for the job they want.
If you want to be the part of the resume pool, you’ll have to follow these three steps:
- Make an online profile.
- Upload your resume
- Come in for an interview.
Note that this process will only help your resume enter the resume pool and hold no guarantee to get you a job at the Capital. So, don’t just rely on this strategy.
4. Use the Placement Service and House Vacancy Announcement
The Placement Service and House Vacancy Announcement helps House committees and offices with the hiring process. They maintain a resume pool and announce the House Employment Bulletin.
We’ll repeat. Signing up for the bulletin and adding your resume to the pool shouldn’t be the only steps you take to land a job as a congressional staffer. Use the combination of the strategies discussed above to succeed.
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