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Speed Networking: Labor!

Posted By GAIN STAFF, Thursday, June 2, 2011

Get in the labor fight! Join GAIN for a Speed Networking event just on labor!

Ever wonder what goes on in labor unions? The labor community is a BIG supporter of Democratic candidates, and they fight for many of the same issues that progressives fight for.

Sign up for Speed Networking: Labor on Wednesday, June 8th at 5:00 PM. We’ll have leaders from the labor community including representatives from the largest unions in the country!

Space is limited - register to reserve your spot!



Tags:  advice  events  job seeking  networking 

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What Does Your Online Profile Say About You?

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Whether you like it or not, your online persona is also your professional persona -- are you OK with that?

You might want to de-tag that keg stand photo, take down the "I'm so bored -- is it 5:00 yet" tweet, and carefully edit your college blog posts.  Oh, and just because we're not "friends" on Facebook, doesn't mean I'm not going to see those photos and posts!  Politics is a small world and I'm friends with your friends.

Here are some tips from 6FigureJobs:

A candidate’s online reputation plays a vital role when being considered for a new job opportunity. Studies show that 80% of employers and executive recruiters will search a candidate’s online reputation before contacting them for an interview. Any active or passive job seeker should be aware of their online reputation before they hit the job market.

In July 2010, 6FigureJobs conducted a survey to its community of $100K executive and senior-level job seekers. The survey showed that 60% of candidates are already monitoring their reputation online and of those people 29% consider themselves "very involved” in managing their online reputation. The poll also showed that 28% do not manage their online reputation because they do not know how or believe it to be of no use, feeling they can not control what the Web publishes.

For the 12% who say they do not know what an online reputation is…start with these 3 basic steps.

1. Search – Run a search for your name in all the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!). Review the results in detail. You may find many positive results or you may be surprised at some of the negative, "digital dirt” that it associated with your name. Know what’s out there because this is your online reputation and it is how people will perceive you.

2. Monitor – You can create email alerts for your name through the search engines. Google Alerts does a good job of this. They will send you an email with the latest information posted to the Internet that is associated with your name. This will help you monitor any new content that gets published on the Web that is associated with your name.

3. Take Action – Build on the positive information through professional online profiles, personal websites, publications and discussion boards. Negative results can be difficult to combat so if you find a significant amount of negative results, contact a professional service such as Climber or Reputation Defender.

In conclusion, it is important to stay on top of your online reputation. Your candidacy for a new career role is an online and offline process so keep in mind that you may be judged before you even step into an interview.

Tags:  advice  career advice  employers  get a job  job advice  job search 

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The Art of Salary Negotiations

Posted By GAIN STAFF, Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Raise your hand if you hate salary negotiations!

Most of us dread negotiating salaries, benefits, raises and promotions. But we all know it's an important part of everyone's career. That's why Democratic GAIN is hosting a training on the art of salary negotiation and asking for that promotion.

In these economic times it can be more difficult to ask for, and secure a raise or promotion, but there are still tricks of the trade, and things to know that can make you more confident and successful in your negotiation. This is your chance to learn from political professionals who have been on both sides of the negotiating table.  

This is perfect for anyone who would like to be more successful and confident in salary negotiation with their next job offer, or when they are up for a review in their current job.  

Speakers include:
Katharine Gagne, Managing Director at the United Mine Workers of America Health & Retirement Funds
Simone Ward, Campaign Manager for Senator Barbara Mikulski  

Space is limited.

Register today! 

Tags:  advice  career advice  interview advice  job search  skills building  training 

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Building Your Interview Skills Webinar

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Thursday, September 10, 2009
Just in case you missed it last month, check out the video of our Building Your Interview Skills Webinar. It's an hour-long free webinar hosted by two very well-versed interviewers. Johanna Berkson, Candidate Trainings and Outreach with DCCC, joins me as we give new job seekers wisdom about interview best practices for campaigns, nonprofits, advocacy groups and Hill jobs.

Special thanks to New Organizing Institute for hosting the webinar and posting the video!


Tags:  advice  get a job  interview advice  job tips 

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Interview with Bob Blaemire

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This week we continue our series of interviews with political operatives across the spectrum.  This week we have Robert Blaemire of Catalist, LLC.  Do you have questions you want us to ask in these interviews?  Be sure to leave them in the comments and we'll incorporate them into future interviews.

 
Robert Blaemire is the Director of Business Development at Catalist, LLC. He is formerly the founder and president of Blaemire Communications. Catalist is transforming the way progressive organizations communicate and campaign by creating a comprehensive, well-maintained national database of all voting-age individuals in the United States, along with the tools and expertise needed to make this database broadly accessible, at an affordable price.  As many ouf you know, they were instrumental in many recent Democratic victories.
 
1. Describe your job
Develop new business at Catalist, handle ad hoc requests, consultant subscribers, email matching. Also run the quality assurance divisision of the company, requiring me to approve all steps of voter file creation process.
 
2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
 
I began working for US Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN) as a freshman in college and stayed there 13 years, finishing as Political Director of the 1980 unsuccessful re-election campaign. I then got involved in the business of building voter files in 1982, eventually moving to run the Washington Office of a California political computer firm (Below, Tobe & Assoc.). After 8 years there, I founded Blaemire Communications. Working with Democratic State Parties, Democratic candidates and progressive organizations, managed more of the Democratic State party voter file projects than any other vendor. Our company merged with Catalist in December 2007. 
 
3. What are the three most important skills for success in the progressive politics?
  • Do good work you can be proud of;
  • Treat clients, colleagues and prospects as you'd like to be treated yourself;
  • Don't take yourself too seriously.
4. When you're hiring, is there anything in particular on a resume that makes you pick up the phone to schedule an interview?
 
Just the facts. Don't make something sound like it isn't in reality. 
 
5. What should job-seekers keep in mind when interviewing?
 
When you interview, that's the office/place you most want to be. Practice humility. Interviewer is unlikely to think you are as great as you may think you are.

 
Thanks Robert!

Tags:  advice  job seeking 

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Interview with Jim Carroll

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Last week we launched our series of interviews with political operatives across the spectrum.  This week, we bring you our second interview with Jim Carroll.  Read it below.  And if you missed it, check out last week's interview with Matt Mansell as well as other career advice posted on GAINing Ground.
 
Jim Carroll is the Managing Director of Equality California, a statewide organization that has been building a state of equality in California for the past decade. In the past 10 years, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Jim has been with EQCA for the past five years.
 
1. Describe your job
My responsibility is to execute the tactics necessary to implement the Executive Director's strategic vision and make that vision a reality. On a day-to-day basis, that means allocating resources to accomplish our goals, including financial resources, human resources, technical resources, etc.
 
2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
 
I was a commercial lender at a large bank. My portfolio included many non-profits, so I was required to understand the intricacies of non-profit accounting. This led to a job offer from one of my clients to help them straighten out their books. Non-profit money management and operations, more broadly - led seamlessly to non-profit fundraising. It turns out that non-profit development was a natural fit for my skill set since selling commercial banking services is similar to acquiring donations. In both cases a conversation with the client/donor is required to convince them that investing their money with the bank or non-profit is the place where they'll find the highest return on their dollars. The combination of Development and Operation skill sets gave me a good start; from there I learned the Communications and Program/Field components on the job.
 
I've had fifteen years to learn: Five years at EQCA, and before that five years at the Breast Cancer Fund and five more at PFLAG.
 
3. What are the three most important skills for success in the progressive politics?
Number One: Flexibility. You have to be willing to alter your approach, tactics, resources - to the opportunities that present themselves. Too many people stick to their plan, regardless of the outcomes. Too many more claim success when the available metrics don't support the claim.
 
Number Two: Clear Communication. So much of what we do isn't measurable - we're not creating shareholder profit, or measuring ROI - so you have to be able to communicate value in ways that are compelling across many different kinds of venues. Web, social networking, snail mail, face-to-face meetings, phone, events, etc. are all communications opportunities at their core.
 
Number Three: Leadership. It's a rare skill. The ability of senior staff to lead donors, stake holders, community, staff, board, etc. toward goals is the difference between good organizations and average organizations.
 
4. When you're hiring, is there anything in particular on a resume that makes you pick up the phone to schedule an interview? Is there anything that gets the resume tossed into the circular file post haste?
 
Misspellings and grammatical errors = doom. If the candidate didn't pay attention to their resume and/or cover letter, he or she won't pay attention to the things the organization needs them to focus on.
 
I'm most interested in candidates that have a variety of job and life experiences. The person who's been doing the same job forever and just wants to come do it with us is less interesting to me than the person who has a variety of expertise and experiences to bring to the table.
 
5. What would be your first next step if you were looking for a job in the progressive political world today?
 
The first thing I would do is pick the area or cause that is most important or relevant to me and/or most in alignment with my skills, be that an organizational area of expertise - Accounting or Web-based fund raising for example - or an issue area. I'd look for people or organizations doing innovative work in that area and get involved, even as a volunteer, to get that experience to bring to my next job. The most exciting change occurs in organizations and communities and from people seeking new and innovative solutions to problems. The government can sometimes implement creative ideas but those ideas almost always originate elsewhere. Government service is an honorable career but I'd rather be on the cutting edge.
 
 
Great advice- thanks Jim! 

Tags:  advice  job seeking 

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How to get a job on the Hill

Posted By Democratic Job Placement Initiative, Thursday, January 15, 2009
The Democratic Job Placement Initiative submitted this post about with advice for those looking for a job on the Capitol Hill.
 
Believe it or not you have a chance to work for the Senate.  I have heard people say that ‘you have to know someone’ or ‘they only hire ivy leaguers’. Both of which are common fallacies that should not prevent you from submitting your resume.  The hill is populated with hard working type A hair on fire staffers from everywhere in America, who all have one thing in common, they want to make a difference.   Below is a list of suggestions intended to increase your chances of obtaining a Hill job. 
 
Do your Research
 
Prior to applying you should take a look at the Senate Employment Brochure available free of charge on line at www.senate.gov/employment or call Placement Office at (202) 224-9167 for more information.  The Senate Placement Office is a free invaluable source of information regarding the types of positions available at the Senate.  The Senate has an age old structure for positions such as staff assistants, legislative correspondents, legislative assistants, staff directors, administrative directors, chiefs of staffs, and counsels.  (These titles are not exhaustive but the most common.)  In order to know where your skill set fits, you will need to do your research with the Senate Placement Office.

While on this topic, if you already have an informational interview or an interview lined up you should familiarize yourself with the Senator’s recent legislative activities.  Although this suggestion may be a no brainer to some of you - to others the excitement of the opportunity may cause you to forget to do your research. You should know their State, their Causes, and the Committees on which they serve.
 
Have an Impeccable Resume

We tend to think that the in person meeting is the first impression, not so on the Hill.  For every one opening, a hiring manager can receive 100 or more resumes.  Your resume is the real first impression. It is your first chance to distinguish yourself. Therefore, it should be concise, crisp, and easy to read.  Font at 12, and your name and contact information easy to spot. 

Be Specific about your Interests

Time and time again, eager prospective staffers say ‘I want to work on policy’, okay what policy?  You should stay focused on policy areas where your skill sets are best suited.  If you are interested in Healthcare Policy be specific; cost of medication policy, preventative care policy, domestic healthcare policy, or foreign healthcare policy?  Be specific.
 
Humility

You want a Senior Level position or even a Chief of Staff position?  Right?  You feel you have experience, education, all the right qualifications but those positions are coveted positions usually earned by people who have prior hill experience.  The reality is that you may have to start with an entry or mid level position. For some of you, that may be too much of a sacrifice.  For others it may be a sacrifice worth making.    That’s a decision you will have to make - just keep in mind that public service is an honor, and getting your foot in the door even in an entry level position may be the start on your path towards a Senior level or Chief of Staff position.

Remain Optimistic

Each Senate Office is autonomous.  Some offices are quicker at responding to staffing needs than others.  If you have sent in a resume and have not heard - remain optimistic. Some offices hire three to six months after interviewing, some will hire on the spot.   There is no way of knowing how rapidly an office will respond or if an office will respond to your resume.  It really has nothing to do with your effort.  So keep applying to various offices.

I hope these suggestions assist you in your job search.  If you have the desire to become a staffer, do not give up.  Be prepared and persevere, the Senate does have opportunities.

Tags:  advice  capitol hill  job seeking 

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Interview with Matt Mansell

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, January 12, 2009
This interview is the first in a series of interviews we will be conducting with political operatives across the spectrum - those working on campaigns, for party operations, consultants, etc.  
 
Matt Mansell, is the Virginia House Democratic Caucus Director. Matt has worked in Virginia Democratic politics since 2000, and with the Virginia House Democratic Caucus since 2004. He's been the caucus director since 2006.
 
1. Describe your job
My job is to manage all political operations related to the Virginia Democratic state house caucus, specifically with a focus on the state legislative campaigns. That includes fundraising, managing consultants, placing managers and other staff on campaigns, and working with candidates and campaigns to make sure we're doing everything we can to win House seats for Democrats.
 
2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
I took a semester off in 2000 to work on Senator Robb's race and again in 2001 to work on now-Senator Warner's race for Governor. In 2000, my title was something having to do with advance. I was basically a body man for the candidate and worked closely with the political director. For the last several weeks of the campaign I got to travel the state with the candidate, which was great. For Sen. Warner I began as an organizer in Roanoke, then moved up to serve as the regional field director for far southwestern VA and ran our field office there.
 
I loved campaign work and the campaign lifestyle, so after graduating from college I managed a 2003 state senate race, then came to Richmond as a legislative assistant. My plan was to get on another campaign, which I sort of did. During the 2004 legislative session then-Gov. Warner and the Republicans fought over the budget and taxes, so we we had an extended communications campaign around that issue. I stayed on to work with the house Democratic caucus to help win the fight (we did). I stayed on, first as the candidate recruitment director before moving into my current position in 2006.
 
3. What are the three most important skills for success in politics?
  1. Perseverance
  2. Hard work
  3. Ability to see the big picture in order to identify common ground and build consensus toward the strategy and plans necessary to win

4. When you're hiring, is there anything in particular on a resume that makes you pick up the phone to schedule an interview? Is there anything that gets the resume tossed into the circular file post-haste?
References are as big a deal as experience for me. I need to talk to people who I trust about the applicant's work. I also like to see a variety of experience. Right now I'm primarily hiring for campaign managers, so I like to see experience beyond field organizing to include fundraising, communications, managing staff - all of the basic skills necessary to manage a campaign. Interesting experiences are also a plus, things like study abroad and other "character building" types of things can also tell me a lot about a person.

Typos and spelling errors get a resume tossed. Politics is about details and lack of attention to details on a resume doesn't say anything good about how the applicant would do the job.

5. What would be your first next step if you were looking for a job in the progressive political world today?
I'd call through my list of contacts and set up meetings with anybody and everybody who works in politics that I have a prior relationship with. Ours is a relationship business, so I make sure to keep up my personal network. It's important to apply for jobs through the traditional channels - job boards, etc. - but also focus on keeping your relationships in the field strong.

 
Matt is doing great work in Virginia and offers great advice! Leave him a reply with additional thoughts or your own take on what he had to say.  Thanks Matt!

Tags:  advice  job seeking 

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Nikki's Personal Advice

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Friday, December 5, 2008
I want to start by stating the obvious: it’s tough to work in politics.  And while the work itself is tough, that’s not what I’m talking about.  I mean, it’s tough to get a job in politics…and another…and another.
 
Trust me:  I’ve been there.  Anyone who is a success in this business has also been there.  Many, many, many times.  Trust me, because I know you don’t believe me.
 
In fact, I’ve come to referring to my bouts of unemployment as my “bi-annual mid-life crises.”  It’s inevitable:  I would have just come off a race or a job (more often than not it was a losing race) and I’d be all jazzed up to either get back on the horse and fight again, or, on the rare occasions I’d won, I’d want to get going implementing change.
 
So, I’d update my resume on GAIN, email it around to everyone who’s name I knew (or didn’t), and make the “cocktail party circuit” being my charming self and letting it be known that I was available.  Then I’d wait…and wait…and wait…and wait…and wait.  Oh, and wait.
 
The longer I waited the more I’d doubt myself, my decisions, my job performance and my self worth.  As well as whether or not this whole “politics” business was really worth all this hassle.
 
Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, just when I’d hit the nadir of my depression, my phone would ring, my email would blow up and I’d have 3 job offers in one day and now I was in the position of making a gut-wrenching decision.  It never failed.
 
I tell you this not to discourage you – but to encourage you.  The only thing that would get me through the tough times were my friends and mentors reminding me that “we’ve all been there.”  Trust me.
 
This year it’s been even harder for us all to sit back, chill out and wait.  WE WANT TO HELP!  We want to go work for the President (yay!), or make sure Congress passes Universal Healthcare, or help progressive organizations fulfill their missions.  Plus, it seems like there are just so many jobs...it’s hard when you’re not getting one.  And then like salt to a wound, that not-so-sharp co-worker you had on the trail just landed a great gig and you’re still sitting by the phone.  What the heck!?
 
First of all, take a deep breath.  This has been a rough year all around. 

Let's start with the administration:  We all assumed they would be a giant vacuum, sucking up talent and leaving lots of Hill offices and organizations with holes to fill.  One, that didn't happen.  First of all, it turns out that there really aren't that many political appointee slots that can be filled by non-PhD-policy-expert folks like you and me.  Secondly, those political slots that could be filled by "political" people were filled with the highest level individuals from the campaign who had been working for 15+ years in politics prior to their time with Obama. 
 
The same holds true for members of Congress – both newbies and old hats.  For the first few months, they were waiting to see what was happening in the Administration.  Then, they discovered they weren't, in fact, going to loose their staff to the President, so it turns out they didn't really have as many open jobs as we'd all hoped either.  That's not to say there hasn't been - and won't continue to be - the normal turnover on the Hill.  It's just to say it wasn't as large-scale as we'd all thought. 
 
In addition, the advocacy groups and unions have been hit hard by the recession.  It is taking them longer to replenish their bank accounts post-election, and they are now just starting to take stock of what will need to be prioritized for 2010.  The educated guess is they will start spending in the coming months, so make sure you are doing your informational interviews with the advocacy groups and unions, but don't feel bad if you're not yet getting call backs. 
 
In the meantime, there are some things you can do to stay in the loop and best position yourself to be in the right place at the right time when folks to start pulling some hiring triggers.
  • File for unemployment!  I’m serious.  I wish I’d done it more.  It’s your money, take it and buy yourself some time.  Every state has different rules and regulations, so simply google “unemployment benefits state” to see what you need to do.
  • Take advantage of the cocktail party circuit and holiday parties .  There is one rule in this business that is universally accepted – never turn down a cocktail.  Happy Hours and Cocktail Parties (like the kinds that crop up like crazy during the holidays) are fantastic opportunities to meet new people and network.  You never know when you’re going to bump into your next boss. 
    • Personal note – this literally happened to me.  I met my boss on the Dodd campaign at an organization’s open house party.  We literally bumped into each other and got to chatting.  He was looking…I was available…we enjoyed each other’s company...  The next thing I knew I had a great job with an amazing team and it was one of the best professional experiences of my career!
  • Keep in touch and use your network.  The best thing you have going for yourself in this business is the people who know (and like) you.  The biggest mistake people make is not keeping in touch with the people who can help them.  DON’T FEEL GUILTY!  Everyone who is a success got help from others along the way.  Don’t harass or be obnoxious, simply keep in touch and keep folks in the loop about your activities and goals.
    • Personal note – 90% of getting a job in this business is timing.  When I’d first moved to DC, I was looking for work in finance.  I emailed everyone I knew to let them know I was now in DC, looking for work in finance, and asking if they knew of anything or anyone I could talk to.  My boyfriend’s friend suggested I call this woman (who was a successful finance consultant) to see if she knew of anything.  So, I emailed her and lo-and-behold, the day before her associate had quit!  She interviewed me that day, and before I could even get home she called and offered me the job.  I know for a fact if I had even waited a day, that job would have been filled by someone else.
    • Additional note – observe that this position was NEVER posted or made public in any way.  I’d wager a bet that well over half of all jobs filled never get posted or made public – they simply get filled by asking around if “anyone knows anyone good.”  You want to be that “anyone good.”  But, your networks aren’t sitting around thinking about you 24/7.  You need to remind them to think about you when those situations arise.  Quick emails, chatting with them at happy hours, meeting them for coffee…that’s what keeps you at the top of their “anyone good” lists.
  • No one is too good to wait tables.  Still haven’t found that perfect job, and starting to run into that stressful “rent or food” situation?  There is no shame in taking some temporary work (whether it’s food service, retail, or temping) to get you by.  Just make sure you choose something that allows you the time and flexibility to do the above things so you can find your next career move.

Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below. It's hard no matter what, but the "bi-annual mid-life crisis" is much easier when handled in community with fellow political junkies!

Tags:  advice  job seeking 

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