Updated: Jun 23
Landing a job on the Hill is highly competitive. Many people are passionate about their political views and want to be in or around positions that have the power to make a difference. While there are thousands of jobs people hold in Washington D.C., there are a few common qualities that will help you land many types of positions. If you want to show how your background matches job openings you find in Washington, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Show you know how to communicate. Let’s face it, nothing could get done in government without a lot of communication. Lobbyists rely on their persuasive abilities to do their jobs, as do politicians themselves. Behind the scenes, you may be working to pass bills or communicate on behalf of a congressman. All of these tasks require good communication skills. You can demonstrate you know how to communicate first by corresponding professionally during the job search process. Make sure your emails, cover letters, and resumes are proofread and flawless. Work on your interviewing skills and then look for opportunities in your past jobs that reflect you got things done simply by the way you communicated with others.
Show you are a connector. In the same spirit of communication, it helps in Washington D.C. if you know how to network. To demonstrate you know how to connect people, start with who you know. It may be a current Hill employee or a distant relative working in D.C., but reach out to that person and make a connection. Meet with that person about your job search and talk about that connection during your interview. Also, note in previous jobs when you connected two people and it was the answer to a problem at work.
Show you know about the Hill. Perhaps more than anything, many staffers on The Hill want to know you understand how the legislative process works before they’ll hire you. Actual experience on the Hill may not be necessary, but a knowledge of it likely is. If you can’t connect anything from your work experience to politics, maybe you took a class that taught you how things work and you can talk about what you learned. D.C. hiring managers basically want to know you can hit the ground running, so think about ways you are qualified to jump right in and can use your knowledge about how the government works.
Even with all of the drama in our world due to the pandemic and fluctuating poll numbers of the current administration, working on Capitol Hill is still highly desirable. Hiring managers are looking for good matches who can grow in their positions and move up. It’s been a hot place to work since the formation of our government because people as young as their early 20s feel like they can make a difference in our world. Look at your qualifications and see how they match with communication, networking, and knowledge of our legislative process.