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Remember to avoid these top ten mistakes on your federal resume!

Posted By Sara Swezy, GAIN Intern, Tuesday, January 24, 2012
For all you job seekers, check out this helpful article:

FedSmith: Top 10 Common Pitfalls In Your Federal Resume


Make sure to avoid these common mistakes on your resume. Remember, when applying for jobs, especially online- your resume is the first impression employers will see. You want it to reflect your skills and abilities in an impressive way.  

#2 Weak presentation of your accomplishments: If your accomplishments are hiding in a long paragraph or surrounded with unnecessary information, you won’t get an interview. Make sure your accomplishments stand out in distinct paragraphs and use engaging action verbs.  

#4 Keywords are missing: Most HR professionals receive hundreds of resumes and are looking for a specific skill set. Don’t use the same version of your resume for every job application. Make sure your resume matches the keywords in the job announcement and satisfies what the employers look for in the ideal candidate.  

Don’t forget, if you weren’t able to attend our resume workshop last week, you can still register to get a copy of the webinar online. It’s full of helpful tips and expert advice from those in the industry.

Tags:  career advice  learn from pros  resume advice 

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YouTube Campaign Bootcamp

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, GAIN Intern, Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The perfect YouTube moment is something all campaigns are searching for. The flawless, on message exchange with a voter. The devastating one liner delivered during a debate. The catchy and engaging short video that sticks in a voter’s mind until Election Day. Or maybe your campaign’s tracker will catch your opponent brewing a cup of tea that is a little too strong for the average voter.

Do you want to learn how to make your candidate’s YouTube channel pop, create the next smash video and engage with supporters in a meaningful way in the next election cycle? The YouTube Campaign Bootcamp next Wednesday at the Newseum in Washington, DC is where you need to be!

This free one-day training will get your campaign up to speed on the platform and tools you need to find donors, sign up volunteers, and persuade voters.

Click here to register.

Tags:  Campaigns  learn from pros  networking event  skills building  training  Youtube 

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Interview with C.R. Wooters

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Friday, October 23, 2009
We continue our "Bubbles of Politics" interview series with another interview from a Hill staffer.  This time, we get some great advice from C.R. Wooters, the Director of Member Services in the Office of the Assistant to the Speaker.

1. Please give us a quick biography. Touch on how you got your first job in politics and why you decided to stick with politics as a profession.

My first job in politics was working in New Hampshire for Al Gore’s Presidential campaign. I started interning for the campaign while I was still in college and after I graduated they needed folks for the early states. I stayed with the campaign through its historic ending in Florida. I have spent most of my time in politics on the campaign side. I have done a couple tours at the DNC and the DCCC working on races all over the country. I have worked at a DC non-profit and on the Hill.  My first job on the Hill was to be Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. I left Mrs. Slaughter’s office and went back to the DCCC to run the Incumbent Retention operation for the 2008 cycle. After a successful cycle my boss Rep. Chris Van Hollen asked me to come back to the official side. I am currently the Director of Member Service in the Office of the Assistant to the Speaker working with the vulnerable Members for Mr. Van Hollen. I am leaving out a lot of details here but suffice it to say I have worked in dozens of states and DC over the past 10 or so years and like most political folks my resume looks like I can’t keep a job. 

2. Did you begin your career thinking that Capitol Hill was where you wanted to end up?
 
Well I did to some extent. I grew up in the DC area so my family is here. I figured at some point I wanted to work on the Hill so that I could settle down and live here in the city. When I started out I knew I enjoyed politics and had no real idea how to make it a career so I jumped on a campaign and began the ride.   I did, however, always keep my eye out for opportunities on the Hill. 

3. What do you like most and hate most about it?
 
The Hill is fascinating to me. These days I work with Democrats, both staff and Members, who are working like crazy to do what's best for the people they represent and the country. The people I work with are from very tough districts (most carried by McCain) so how they do things and how they talk about what they are doing is critical. I really love learning from these offices and racking my brain for new ideas to help them. It's crazy to think that the things we work on everyday can change people's lives. People talk about helping folks when they run for office but the legislative process is where it actually happens.  

I don't really hate anything but I do wish there could be more bi-partisanship in Washington. It’s a little annoying that Democrats and Republicans cannot find more ways to work together but I guess we've got to keep plugging away.  (I, of course, only blame the Republicans!!) 

4. In general, do you recommend starting a successful Hill career on a political campaign or rather beginning a career on the Hill at the entry-level?
 
People ask me this all the time and it really depends on what you want to do.  Most folks on the Hill work their way up the food chain.  That is what I recommend for folks who want to work directly with legislation.  You need to understand how the LC job works before you can be an LA and you need to be and LA for a while before you can be the Legislative Director. 
I took a different route.  My first job on the hill was as a Chief of Staff so I am not typical.   

That said, I do think the campaign experience is great for almost anyone who wants to go into senior management or press.  I also think that you cannot duplicate the pressure and speed of a campaign. 

5. Should one have a different approach to looking on the Senate vs. the House? What are the major differences between the two bodies when it comes to working there?
 
The Senate offices are bigger and tend to be more senior. Interaction with the Senators can sometimes be limited to a few staffers.  Since there are fewer of them each Senator has a role in most pieces of legislation. 

In the House there is a lot more turnover in offices.  Staff tends to be smaller and younger.  There is usually more interaction with the Members.  Members tend to have a couple of issues that they spend a ton of time on with other issues only percolating when they are relevant.  In the House re-election is always on folks mind. 

6. Has there been a difference between how you expected the Hill to be and how it is in reality?

Not really.  Folks up here work long hours for not a ton of money.  Members travel back and forth from the district almost every week.  We joke that this is the biggest collection of "type A” personalities on earth.  You throw the politics on top and it’s really exciting.   

7. What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your career?
 
Personal relationships are the most important.  You need to focus on your job but get to know the folks around you.  Washington is a small town.  Folks you meet interning and early in your career you will more than likely run into down the road.   

8. Do you have any parting thoughts that haven’t been covered?
 
Politics is a very hard but very fun business.  It provides the ability to learn a ton and actually help regular people.  It’s a cliché but elected officials want to change the world and it’s our job to help them do that.  Washington and the Hill specifically, is the center of the political world so it’s a great place to learn.

Tags:  capitol hill  career advice  learn from pros 

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Interview with Matt Thornton

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, October 13, 2009
We continue our interview series exploring the various career paths of working in politics.  Check out our recent article, "The Bubbles of Working in Politics" for an overview and to check out other interviews.

Today, we interview Matt Thornton,  Communications Director for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).  Like many, Matt started in politics working on campaigns and has been working on the hill for two years.  

1) Please give us a quick biography. Touch on how you got your first job in politics and why you decided to stick with politics as a profession.

I don’t remember the exact moment that I decided I wanted to be involved in politics, but it was at some point in high school.  I grew up in Kansas where I became progressively aware of the fact that I was a Democrat – not an easy position to take in Kansas in those days.  It was an easy decision to study political science and history in college and government administration in grad school.

After finishing my education, I hit the campaign trail, getting my start as an operations guy for Allyson Schwartz for Congress (PA-13) in ’04.  I then went on to head up the online communications for Jim Davis for Governor (FL) in ’06.

From there, I started on Capitol Hill as the Press Secretary then Communications Director for Congressman Zack Space (OH-18) then to my current position as Communications Director for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).

2)  Did you begin your career thinking the federal legislature was where you wanted to end up?

I began with an eye toward national politics.  I always expected that I would end up in Washington at some point.  Early on, I expected that working in Congress would be an exciting experience, but I had no idea just how thrilling it would be.  After two and a half years on Capitol Hill, I still get chills walking into the Capitol Building.

3) What do you like most and hate most about it? 

What’s not to like?  I get the opportunity to be in the middle of the great debates of our time.  History is made every day around here, and in a very small way, I play a part in that.
I wouldn’t say that I particularly hate anything about the job.  I suppose I could point to the high stress levels on the Hill, but, to be quite honest, I think that is part of what makes this place so exciting.

4) In general, do you recommend starting a successful Hill career on a political campaign or rather beginning a career on the Hill at the entry-level?

I always encourage people just starting out in this business to take an honest assessment of what they really want to do in their careers.  If the end goal is definitely working on the Hill, then that is where they should focus their attention.  There are a number of people who start out in the campaign world expecting to transition to the Hill only to find out that there are actually very few campaign jobs that have equivalents on the Hill (communications being one of them).  People make the jump, but it is tough.

5) Should one have a different approach to looking on the Senate vs. the House?  What are the major differences between the two bodies when it comes to working there?

In transitioning to the Senate, the main difference that struck me was the pace is a lot different over here than on the House side.  Representatives are frequently competing with each other for coverage and attention, and the nature of the body is much faster.  Senators do not have to deal with that quite as much, so it is much less rough-and-tumble. 

6) Has there been a difference between how you expected the Hill to be and how it is in reality?

Growing up, I always had the impression that Congress was an abstract place full of smart, faceless people that you read about in books.  It was impersonal, remote, and austere.  The thing that struck me was just how diverse and interesting the staffers are.

7) What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your career?

This is not an easy business.  You really need to make sure this is what you want to do before throwing caution to the wind and jumping in.

8) Do you have any parting thoughts that haven’t been covered?

Network.  There is nothing more valuable in this town than the personal connections you make with people.  If you have a job in mind, call a few people who have similar jobs, ask them to give you an informational interview, and get their ideas on how to get the position.


Tags:  capitol hill  career advice  career development  learn from pros 

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Interview with Alan Lindquist

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Thursday, September 17, 2009
This is our first interview of the fall as we begin to look at various career paths in politics and ask professionals to share their career advice.  Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

Alan Lindquist has been working on political campaigns for over a decade.  He currently lives in Maine and is a fundraiser for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.  We asked him a little bit about how he got started working in politics and his advice for those looking to work on campaigns.  

1)      Please give us a quick biography. Touch on how you got your first job in politics and why you decided to stick with politics as a profession.  

I have worked on the campaign end of politics since 1997, when I went from volunteering to getting paid to work for my first campaign (Kehoe for Congress in San Diego).  I literally begged my way into the job, working for $800 a month and doing whatever they wanted me to whenever it was needed.  I ended the campaign as the GOTV Coordinator and organized 500 people on election day in the closest Congressional election that cycle.  I worked my way up from there, as Finance Director on my first winning campaign (Susan Davis for Congress in 2000), managed an underdog race that won (Donna Frye for City Council in San Diego) and eventually made my way to DC, where I worked for the DCCC.  I now live in a small town in Northern Maine with my partner and do the fundraising for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

2)      Did you begin your career thinking campaigning was where you wanted to end up?  

I loved campaigning from early.  I volunteered on my first race when I was in Junior High School and never stopped.  I never really thought I could make it as a professional, but I'm glad that when I saw my chance I jumped at it.

3)      What do you like most and hate most about it?   

I love working for people that I know want to make a difference and are willing to put themselves out there to do it.  I've seen people running for office go through a lot (rumors, being followed by private detectives, death threats) and I believe it takes a special person to run for office today, either motivated by power - or motivated by an ability to see a big picture and want to make it happen.  I try to find the latter to work for.  What I dislike at this point of my life is being "on the job" 24 hours a day.  In politics you are always on call, because things happen on their own timeline.  If you're looking for 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, this isn't the job for you.

4)      What is the thing you are most proud of in your career?  OR What is your funniest campaign story?  

I am most proud of seeing people that have worked for me move up the career ladder.  I remember when I started out worrying about my next job, or if I would get one.  I have worked hard in my career to mentor people that have worked with me, or have shown an interest in breaking into politics.  Now I can count dozens of people that I have been able to help get into or move up in politics.

5)      What advice do you have for someone who would like to begin their career in campaigns? 

Start out in field.  If you really want to know how campaigns are won and lost and have a pulse on the race, you have to start out in the field.  Communications and fundraising sound much more glamorous, but you can move into those areas.  Knowing how to find and count votes, recruit volunteers, and get out the vote are crucial to any part of campaigning you work in.

6)      What type of person generally does well with this career choice?  What types of people generally don’t excel in campaigns?  

People that are willing to go anywhere on a moments notice and do anything - I guess adventurous, energetic people - do best in this area.  People that are looking at a "career path" early on are going to be in trouble.  Campaigning doesn't work that way, and in some ways it tends to shut down people that are too aggressive in one direction.

7)      What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your political career?
 
 I wish I had been in a better place emotionally. I made it through campaigns with no personal life, but if I had been more centered from the beginning I would have been able to find a bit of a work/life balance.

8)      Do you have any parting thoughts that haven’t been covered?  
 
Don't go into campaigns expecting glamour and access to power.  Its a lot of time in small towns in states you've never been to, in offices that are put together MacGyver style, and very little money.  That said, I wouldn't change the path I took for the world.

Tags:  career advice  career development  interviews  learn from pros 

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Announcing the Political Career Bootcamp!

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Friday, June 12, 2009
Okay, so I am really excited about this event and hope you are too!

Have you ever wondered how the top political players got to where they are today? 

Are you looking to begin or continue your own political career? 

Do you want to make the most out of your internship or staffer position and develop connections that will take you to the next level? 

Then this is the place for you! 

Progressive Political Career Bootcamp: Senior Democratic operatives giving you the tips and tricks of their success and how you can get there too!

Democratic GAIN and the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management are teaming up to bring you a day of panel discussions with senior Democratic and Progressive Political Professionals from all areas of politics who will share their stories while providing information, insights and advice on how you can begin or continue your own political career.

Following the panel discussions, there will be a series of smaller break-out sessions with professionals in various specialties who can answer more specific questions and give more focused advice to those individuals wishing to pursue that specialty. 

The registration fee is $10 for non-dues-paying members of GAIN, and free for current dues-paying members. 

Space is limited, so register early to guarantee your spot at this great event!

AGENDA

12:00 pm:     Careers in Advocacy

1:00 pm:      Careers on The Hill

2:00 pm:      Careers in Campaigning

3:00 pm:     TBD

4:00 - 5:00 pm:  Career Counseling Breakout Session 1 in: Finance, Field Organizing, Communications, New Media and Campaign Management

5:00 - 6:00 pm:  Career Counseling Breakout Session 2 in: Finance, Field Organizing, Communications, New Media and Campaign Management

Tags:  career advice  learn from pros  networking 

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