Ask Fraser: How do I get my resume in the hands of those building staff for next year's new administration and Congress?

by Fraser Traverse

I am interested in joining a freshman Hill office or the administration. I've been polling my network but most everyone I speak to says that most likely jobs will go to campaign staff or current Hill staffers. How might you recommend I get my resume and cover letter in the hands of those building staff for next year's new administration and Congress? Do you think that "external" candidates have a chance?

- James L., public policy professional

Thanks for reaching out! Great questions. For jobs in the new administration, I did just post the link for the Biden political appointment submission site:

https://buildbackbetter.com/join-us/

If you know anyone on the transition or even someone who knows someone on it, it helps to have them flag it obviously. And for non-political slots in the administration, usajobs.gov will have thousands of openings over the next year.

On Capitol Hill, so far there are 57 House freshmen and seven Senators. Given average office staff sizes, that equates to just over 1,000 newly created positions. And while, yes, most of those slots are already spoken for, keep this in mind: a lot of people come to DC from the district and for a variety of reasons don’t work out, either at the last minute or a few months in. So keep your name in front of the freshmen and be patient. Second, there is a lot of movement of existing Hill staff this year. Many are transitioning off the Hill and others are moving to other offices. I feel like it’s more than normal this year. So target offices you want to work for and have connections with. 

As always, use your network! For those you know from campaigns or the Hill, remember to approach them carefully because everyone is coming out of the woodwork asking them for help right now. Remind them how you know them (if needed) and ask that if they hear of anything on the Hill that might not be published publicly, you’d love a heads up. And I’d also provide two or three sentences about what you bring to the table — your real expertise/value. And that may be different for different offices. It’s good to tailor the note.

I think the bottom line, as with most jobs, is that you really need someone to flag your resume for you every time you apply somewhere. Have someone put in a good word. A quick email or phone call is totally fine. Doesn't have to be a long recommendation.

Hope this helps and please keep me posted!!