What Job Hunters Can Learn From the Campaign Trail

June 16, 2010 at 2:29 am Leave a comment

Politicians are the ultimate job hunters. They are continually seeking a job — often, their same job, unless they’re tossed out of that one by the voters and then they’re looking for another one. Every two years, most state legislators and all of the members of the House of Representatives must seek a job again — out in the open and with plenty of gusto. It got me to thinking: What can ordinary job hunters, who don’t need to be re-elected but must campaign for a position, nonetheless, learn from the campaign trail?

Obviously, ordinary job hunters don’t need tips about fund-raising or how to explain a legislative ranking from a policy group. But in this mid-term election season, here are some things those seeking a new job or looking to advance in their career can learn from political campaigns:

*Play to your base. Lawmakers recognize those who got them there and who keep them there, and they reward them. They also are sensitive to when they are leaning too far in a direction that won’t appeal to their base, and they make corrections accordingly. While we could debate all day long whether playing to the base makes for good public policy, it certainly helps politicians win back their jobs. The same is true of regular job hunters: You need to figure out your strengths and the target audience (or organizations) for them. And then focus on those strengths determined by your experience and natural abilities — by trying to be too many things to too many employers, you’re likely to dilute your efforts and spread yourself too thin in a job hunt.

*Research, research. While you won’t necessarily need to do much opposition research in a job hunt (though it never hurts to know some things about who you’re up against), a lawmaker’s propensity for research is something that can also help in other careers. Politicians check polls to see where the public stands on issues and on their candidacy, and their staff intensely researches issues of importance in their districts. Job hunters also benefit from researching any company, boss and team that you’re seriously considering joining. You want to be prepared for any and all questions that may come your way in interviews, just as politicians need to be ready for inquiries on the campaign trail.

*Control the message. Political careers are made and lost on the ability to “stay on message” and ensure that the voting public is clear on what the lawmaker stands for and against. Carefully crafted messages have become the stuff of modern political campaigns and deviations from those messages can spell trouble for a candidate. Job hunters also should take care to market their job candidacy and pay attention to the details of their message — the way you present yourself in your resume, cover letter, blog and social-media activity. If you are consistent in presenting an image of yourself to potential employers and contacts who can help promote your job candidacy, you’re more likely to make a firm impression that will lead to more interviews and job offers.

*Some good news and congratulations to another dcworks supporter: Rachel Kapochunas Hartman started a new job this past Monday at Yahoo! News as a politics writer. Rachel had been a senior researcher at The Washington Independent. She generously provided a few tidbits of career advice based on her own experiences: “If you don’t see an exact fit for yourself out there, be open to jobs that can increase your skill set. And remember that the world of journalism is constantly changing, especially in D.C. where new publications seem to be popping up each week, so new opportunities will come along.” Great advice. Congratulations, Rachel, and best of luck as you move forward in the world of political journalism!

*And now for some fresh job leads:

*With a hat tip to poynter.org (for these next two openings), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has an opening for a writer at its headquarters office  in Annapolis:

About Chesapeake Bay Foundation

CBF has a staff of approximately 200 employees working in offices in Annapolis and Salisbury, Md., Richmond and Norfolk, Va., Harrisburg, Pa., and Washington, D.C., and in 15 field education program locations. CBF has an annual budget of approximately $23 million and is supported by more than 226,000 members, volunteers, and other supporters. For more information on CBF, visit cbf.org.

View all our jobs

Job Description

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation seeks a Writer in its Philip Merrill Environmental Center headquarters office in Annapolis, Maryland.


The Writer is a position on the Creative Services team within the Communications Department.  Communications is one of four operating program areas within CBF; the others are Environmental Protection and Restoration, Litigation, and Environmental Education.

Communications’ charge is to market CBF and the Biggest Fight, educate and engage the public, and mobilize its support for priorities, including advocacy and capacity building objectives. CBF defines marketing as actions that help to sell something.  They can be through earned media (and all the elements which go into it such as relationships with reporters, press releases, other forms of communications, etc.); purchased media; direct communications with an audience through CBF’s many publications; our website, other electronic and digital media, action alerts; and any other forms of direct or indirect communications with the public at large or a subset of the public including our members.

The Communications Department is organized around three primary functional areas: community building (direct, Internet, and emerging electronic and digital media outreach); creative services (writing and design); and print and broadcast media (earned, paid, and public service). Communications also manages all aspects of public opinion research and internal communications.

The Writer reports to the Director of Creative Services.  Overall, the Writer is responsible for developing content to educate the general public, CBF members, and decision-makers.  We educate the public to promote awareness, advocacy, volunteer participation, and fundraising.  The Writer is responsible for developing and editing content applicable to broad audiences and for various publication media (print, electronic, etc).  He/she must demonstrate outstanding copy editing, as well as efficient research skills.  The Writer will work collaboratively on projects ranging in scope from brochure text to scientific reports and must show an aptitude for translating scientific content in lay terms.  He/she will be familiar with a style guide and show the aptitude for adapting to branding and tone guidelines in accordance with CBF guidelines.

Essential Functions include:

  • Taking the lead on writing projects including fact sheets, news articles, talking points, reports, letters, speeches, and other projects as assigned.
  • Developing sharp, edgy content to engage and inform diverse audiences.
  • Provide editorial assistance for CBF’s magazine Save the Bay, as well as to members of the Communications Department and other CBF staff.
  • Collaborating on cross-departmental teams to develop content.
  • Collaborating with team members to develop innovative strategies and identify new vehicles for educating and engaging the public through written word.
  • Other duties as assigned



The ideal candidate will have three to five years experience in the public relations and/or communications field.  Bachelor’s degree in related field required.  A journalism background is desirable, but not necessary.  Excellent demonstrated written and oral communications are essential, as well as the ability to work on teams and diverse personalities.  Experience working in a deadline-driven environment under pressure is desirable.

Environmental experience, especially about Chesapeake Bay issues, is preferable, but not required.

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to the address below. A cover letter is mandatory.  Submissions without a cover letter will not be accepted for consideration.  Please apply no later than June 25, 2010 to:

Human Resources/WRI
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
6 Herndon Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403

*The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) based in College Park, Md.,  is looking for an executive director:

About National Association of Black Journalists

NABJ is a 34-year-old, non-profit association representing 3,000 journalists, students and media professionals. NABJ has a long history of advocacy, education, training and scholarship – in television, radio, newspapers and magazines and now on the Internet. With members in just about all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and assigned around the globe, our association of journalists, students and media-related professionals provides quality programs and services and advocates on behalf of black journalists worldwide.

View all our jobs

Job Description

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the nation’s oldest and largest organization for journalists of color, is seeking an executive director to lead it into the next decade. If you are well-organized, outgoing and passionate about journalism and diversity, skilled in managing a multimillion-dollar organization and eager to work with an engaging staff and dynamic membership, then this is your opportunity. For more information, please visit http://bit.ly/c4SZcF.

*Courtesy of paidcontent.org (for these next two positions), the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) in Arlington has an opening for a manager of digital strategies:

Posted Jun 14
Newspaper Association of America Arlington, VA
Responsibilities inlcude tracking trends inside and outstide the industry, identifying best practices, success stories and innovation in driving audience and revenue growth with heavy emphasis on digital platforms; communicating trends and successes through e-newsletter, blogs, Webinars, case studies and other electronic delivery vehicles; develop online ‘toolkits’ or guides to help newspapers implement strategies and products for emerging media platforms, including Web site, mobile applications, video, e-readers, etc; play a role in programming the Digital Track at NAA’s MediaXchange event.

Must have extensive knowledge of digtial media platforms, strategies and business models as well as newspaper digital media operations and strategies; excellent writing and editing skills with good oral communication and interpersonal skills as well as proficiency in Microsoft Office applications, in Design and Quark; 3-5 years experience at a newspaper or in some edictorial capacity.

Qualified candidates please submit resumes to jobs@naa.org or 571-366-1212.

*And to wrap up today’s leads, Gannett Digital in McLean is looking for a mobile product manager:

The Mobile Product Manager reports to the Director, Mobile Products. This position is responsible for product development, management and support of Gannett mobile applications including USA TODAY and local community mobile web sites, text messaging programs and other developing products and services. The Mobile Product Manager will be responsible for identifying new opportunities and managing existing business and technical relationships in support of the overall mobile objectives of Gannett Digital. The Mobile Product Manager will work closely with other Gannett units including the US Community Publishing Division, Broadcasting Division, USA TODAY and company joint venture partners. The Mobile Product Manager will be responsible for implementing mobile content product distribution strategies as well as specific initiatives based on business and user needs. The Mobile Product Manager will support and manage product development and marketing efforts with various wireless distributors and related companies.

The ideal candidate possesses an innovative but disciplined approach to Internet and online product development and management. He/she possesses an orientation to successful, on-time, on-budget project implementation. Prior mobile product management experience preferred. The Mobile Product Manager is ultimately responsible for creating and managing compelling experiences for customers.

• Develop, implement, manage and continuously improve new mobile products, applications and services for Gannett Digital local and national properties. This includes mobile web, sms, downloads, video and other emerging content formats.
• Make recommendations for new products and product enhancements – this may include conceptual development, research, business case development, technical requirements, positioning and market strategy.
• Recommend and implement audience growth, revenue, marketing and content distribution strategies that enable Gannett Digital to maintain and extend its leadership position in the mobile industry.
• Manage internal and external relationships with content, sales, technical and other Gannett teams and partners/vendors; understand the needs of other internal parties while effectively communicating opportunities around mobile products and services.
• Deep understanding of the Gannett Digital audience and how Mobile plays a larger role in contributing to organizational goals and initiatives.
• Maintain detailed analytics and reports and other support documents that measure success and facilitate efficient and accurate information sharing among key shareholders and constituents.
• Continuously monitor competitive environment and developments in a fast-paced, evolving industry.

Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or equivalent. Minimum two years of Internet/online experience. Mobile experience is preferred. Strong and demonstrated understanding of mobile industry, business models and technology channels/platforms (web, sms, app, video). Experience in customer-centric product development, design and project management. Must posses excellent oral and written communication skills, be extremely organized, attentive to detail and team-oriented. Must possess the ability to multi-task, meet tight deadlines and consistently produce high quality product and services.

Happy hunting!



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