Want to work on a 2014 campaign, but don’t know where to start? Most campaign hiring is done internally, so those who want to work on campaigns are often at a loss for where to start. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to land a gig.
Campaigns tend to hire internally and don’t advertise job openings for a variety of reasons. On a campaign, especially one which is high profile, staffers are likely to come across a lot of sensitive information, which would be extremely detrimental, if leaked. Therefore, having trustworthy staff is of the utmost importance.
Hiring someone the candidate or top campaign staff knows well is more appealing than hiring a stranger, who they don’t know to be trustworthy. While this is by no means a foolproof strategy, it’s widely adopted.
Other times, campaigns don’t advertise the staff opening because they don’t want people to know the candidate has an intention to run for office, but they want to have a full team ready when he or she announces his or her candidacy.
Campaigns also don’t want to post the job opening on their site, because the candidate’s site is about electing the candidate – not hiring staff. Unfortunately, they often don’t know where to post their openings.
With that in mind, there are a few ways for new hires to get onto a 2014 campaign.
Contact the campaign. This one is simple enough. While campaigns almost never advertise staff openings on the campaign’s website, they're often hiring. Just email the campaign your resume and inquire about openings. You can also call the campaign using the contact information on the website. Don’t be afraid to do this for more than one campaign.
Ask someone who knows the candidate. Do you know someone who knows the candidate or someone working on the campaign? Get them to ask their contact if they’re hiring or would be open to reviewing your resume for a potential position.
Political job search sites. When campaigns do advertise that they’re hiring, they’ll almost always do so through another website, and they will often do so anonymously. I run one such site – Network Red. We list hundreds of Republican, libertarian, and conservative jobs, internships, events, and other professional opportunities. Most campaigns that ask us to list their internships are fine with us mentioning which campaign is looking.
When hiring paid staff, on the other hand, most campaigns choose to list the openings anonymously on our site. They either ask us to forward them the resumes of people who’re interested, or they set up a nondescript Gmail account to which people can send resumes. Most listings look something like “Arizona statewide race seeking field director.”
Word of mouth. If you have a reputation as a hard-working intern or staffer, don’t be surprised if campaigns reach out to you, asking if you’d like to come on board the campaign. Your reputation is invaluable, so make sure you’re always working hard, helping campaigns, attending events, interning, volunteering, and being the best employee you can be. If you don’t, and people know you like the title more than the accompanying work, then don’t expect to be hired anytime soon, whether by word of mouth or by a campaign which calls your references.
Start as an intern. Oftentimes, campaigns hire their interns. This is especially true if you start interning on a campaign really early. If you work hard, show dedication, and have a skill the campaign needs, you may well be hired. They would prefer to hire the superstar intern who is familiar with the campaign than a newcomer.
Shoshana is the founder of Network Red, a right-of-center networking site. She also works in consulting and writes for Red Alert Politics. She has worked on numerous national, state, and local campaigns.