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Legaljob has previously posted advice for getting your dream legal job.  Along similar lines, LegalJob was recently asked for advice about getting on the Hill.  That advice seeker heard that it was difficult to land a job on the Hill and that it was all about whom you know. That is not Legaljob’s experience.  For the candidate willing to put in the work and do the five steps below, landing a job on the Hill is quite possible.  Note that the steps are iterative and work together and off each other.

1.) HAVE THE LONG VIEW
If you need a job within the next two months, the Hill may not be the right spot for you.  There is lots of turnover but the timing is unpredictable.  A good time to be looking is right after an election when a new Member is searching for talented staff.  Another good time to be looking is when a Member joins a new committee and needs a lawyer with particular experience to advise her on committee issues.  For the person who can afford to wait for the right time, there may be a number of relevant opportunities.

2.) ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS
The process of asking and answering the following questions will help make you a stronger candidate.  Note there is some overlap among questions.

  • Where do you want to work and why?
  • What do you have to contribute?
  • As a follow up to b), what skills are you offering that are different?  Come up with one or two concise examples demonstrating how and why they are different.
  • How are you qualified to offer these skills?
  • Who else thinks you are qualified?
  • What do you want to spend your days thinking about?
  • Why are you the right person (because of your background and experience) to be thinking about these issues?
  • How would you help a Member on your first day?  One purpose of this question is to demonstrate that there is minimal risk that such a thoughtful and focused candidate will turn out to be a dud.
  • What do you still have to learn and are you open to learning it?

3.) BE RIGOROUS IN YOUR RESEARCH
Dig deep before deciding who/what to target.  Which Members or Committees spend time thinking about things you want to think about?  Get a sense of their pet projects by studying which bills they introduced or cosponsored, and what issues are important to their constituents.

4.) BE OF SERVICE
Instead of networking for coffee, meet with current staffers to serve and provide ideas.  Get up to speed on what is on the Senate and House floor, what is coming, and what has recently passed.  How can you help in these areas?  Serve people so deeply they have no choice but to hire you.  Ask them what keeps them or their boss up at night and then provide solutions and ideas.  As entrepreneur James Altucher says, be “an idea machine.”  If you provide someone ten ideas a day, eventually they will write you back.  What can/should a Member be thinking about in addition to what she is doing?

5.) BE FLEXIBLE
If you are flexible about titles, stated responsibilities, and pay, and are willing to accept a different position in the short term, you will give yourself more options to get on the Hill.  Then, once you are “inside,” and in the know, it will be easier to move to your dream position.

 

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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