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Don’t tell them about your cat...

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Thursday, November 18, 2010
So you’ve got 25 minutes with someone to talk to them and get something out of an informational interview. Make the time count and ask productive questions. Open-ended ones are good and asking people about themselves is always a good way to go. What’s that? You want specific examples of good questions to ask? Sure... here ya go:
  • What is a typical day or week for someone with X sort of position in X sort of field/organization?
  • What kind of background is necessary for this sort of area/position?
  • What advice can you give me as to how I should best prepare or look for a job in X organization/area?
  • What are the frustrations and drawbacks of X position or X organization or X field?
  • What kinds of positions to people normally end up in 5/10/20 years down the line after a certain kind of position?
  • What are the hours and schedule like?
  • What is a typical salary for someone in X position or field?
  • Any advice on developing new job leads?
  • Do you know any other great people such as yourself who might be good for me to talk with?

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I have nothing to wear!!!

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Wednesday, November 17, 2010
So you got an informational interview?! YESSS

What’s that? You have nothing to wear, can you wear jeans? Um no.

But you used to work with this person and they’ve seen you in jeans before? Still no.

An informational interview isn’t a full on interview you’re right, but you NEVER know when you might be meeting with someone and they mention they are about to hire, and you should come back to their office with them and meet their Communications Director. Do you want to be in jeans when you show up there? No, didn’t think so.

Treat an informational interview like a real interview, no matter who it’s with. Bring copies of your resume. Turn off your cell phone. Wear a suit, or at least dress pants and a professional top. Arrive on time (or early!). Send a thank you note.

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Wait, how do I do this?

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Ok so I left you hanging a bit yesterday... you want specifics on how to reach out huh? And who to reach out to? Ok...

Who should you reach out to? People who have the job you want now (Google them and find their emails), people who work where you want to work (check out their websites!), people who your friends tell you you should talk to, people who you used to work with or know who you haven’t chatted with recently...

Now, how do you reach out? For people you don’t know just send them an email. You’re thinking, "OMG THATS SO SCARY!!” Yes I know... It can be a bit scary, but what do you have to lose?! A lot of the time, if you have something in common with them, or just write a really well written thoughtful email, people will have time to chat with you and be willing to help you out. I know, shocking, but it’s true.

For people you do know, you can be a little more informal with and make sure to be thoughtful and ask about how they’re doing and say you’d love to catch up over coffee sometime. You can call them too - great way to catch people is on the phone! (Don’t worry, we’re not dumb, we know what you’re doing, but we’ll go along with it...)

For other people you can say something like "Our mutual friend Joe suggested I reach out to you as he thought you’d be a great person for me to chat with about the Hill. Could I buy you coffee sometime and pick your brain?” ... you get where I’m going.

So go forth! Email people. Call people. Set up meetings!

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What is an informational interview anyway?

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Monday, November 15, 2010
So you’ve heard a lot about informational interviews but don’t really get what they are?

Basically an informational interview is a more casual (but still very important!!) chat with someone where you get to ask them about what they do, what advice they have for you, how to get into what they do and how to find a job.

Let’s say you’re interested in working on the Hill. You know there’s a friend of a friend of yours who works in some office. You ask that person if you can take them for coffee, or pick their brain for 20 minutes about what they do. You then get to meet with them and chat with them and start a relationship with them (no no, not that kind. The networking kind of relationship!). The idea is that you get to know a bit more about what it’s like to work on the Hill and that person will let you know when they hear of jobs that open up... and presto! You apply for jobs and get hired! (Well not quite... but you get the idea...)

Go make your list of people you want informational interviews with and start to reach out!

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Staff turnover on the Hill

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Monday, November 15, 2010
Politico has a good but sad article about the upcoming staff turnover on Capitol Hill as a result of the 2010 elections.  They estimate that 1,800 people lost their jobs.  Don't forget that GAIN is here to help with the transition!

Tags:  capitol hill  job seeking 

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Send me your resume...

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Friday, November 12, 2010
Remember - if you’re a dues paying member you can send your resume to GAIN staff and we’ll edit it and send it back to you. That’s quite a benefit of membership isn’t it! AND we’ll even discuss it in person or over the phone with you...

What does it cost to be a dues paying member? Just $35 a year... with all the benefits you get - that’s quite a deal.

Make an appointment on our website. Or email it to us.

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You Got Skillz

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Yes - Skills. They’re an important part of you as a prospective employee, and therefore an important part of your resume.

At the end of your resume you should always have a section on skills. What kind of skills are we talking about? Not ‘research skills’ or ‘organizational skills’ - you may have those and that’s important but everyone says they’ve got great organizational skills. Also, Microsoft Word is not a skill anymore. Only list Excel if you have expert knowledge of it.

We want to know specifics - do you know how to use NGP or VAN? Did you use Salsa or Convio to send email blasts? Did you manage the Google AdWord account for the campaign? These are the sorts of skills political employers are looking for and the kind they would love to see on your resume. Don’t lie and say you know how to use NGP when you don’t, but make sure you list these toolsets if you know them.

Check out our sample resumes online for examples and add your skills!

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Count it!

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Numbers - are they on your resume? I’m talking about actual numbers, percentages... you know...

If not, they should be. If so, add more!

Numbers are a great way for you to make your resume stick out - quantifying your accomplishments sets you apart from the rest of the pack.

Were you a field organizer last cycle? How many volunteers did you manage? How many phone calls did you and your phone bankers make per day, per week, per cycle? How many doors did you knock on during GOTV? What percentage of the vote did you garner in your county, and was that an increase over 2008?

I think you get where I’m going with this...

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Short and Sweet

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Tuesday, November 9, 2010
How long is your resume? If you’ve had less than 10 years of work experience and your resume is more than one page, it’s time to pair it down... to one page only.

That’s right - resumes should be one page only if you have less than 10 years of experience. If you have more than ten years, it can be two pages, but two at the most.

Also - if your font is smaller than size 11 we have to try too hard to read your resume, so keep the font to size 11 or 12.

One last thing - your resume isn’t the place to add a headshot, or use color, or graphics. Keep it short and sweet and focus on highlighting your accomplishments... more on that tomorrow!

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Update Your Resume!

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Monday, November 8, 2010
Now is the time to update your resume and get it in tip top shape so that when asked for it, you’re putting your best foot forward! 

Make sure to update your contact info so your current cell phone number, email address and home address are accurate. If you’ve moved back home from the campaign you were working on, make sure your info is up to date!

And don’t forget to add your previous experience! You should have at least one bullet point (probably more like 2-3) on the campaign you just finished up. Think long and hard about the best accomplishments you had and make sure to note those on your resume. 

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