With the economic situation in the United States over the last few years, recruiters and hiring managers are regularly seeing resumes from individuals who have been unemployed for extended periods of time. Gaps on your resume, as a result of this economic downturn, no longer speak the volumes they once did. Human Resources is just as willing to hire someone who has been laid off as they are someone who hasn’t, understanding much of the time, your work ethic, leadership, and results have little to do with the decisions a company must make about staffing. The difference, then, lies not in whether or not you’ve had a gap on your resume, but in what you’ve done with that gap.
Especially in a presidential election year, one of the best ways to add experience to your resume during a gap in employment or a transition is to volunteer with a political campaign. PR Daily recently published the article “Young PR pros, 8 reasons to work on a political campaign.” And they’re right! For young public relations professionals, political campaigns are a great way to get experience in the industry without a paying position. But political campaigns are great for more than just public relations professionals. Anyone from any field can gain experience by working on campaign. And while PR Daily has 8 reasons you should absolutely read, I want to share with you my own:
5 Reasons to Work On a Political Campaign
- Rub elbows with important people. Campaigns are full of incredibly intelligent individuals. From donors to paid staff to politicians themselves, take every opportunity you can to get to know these individuals, introduce yourself, and let them learn more about you. You’ll walk away from campaign season with a plethora of great contacts who might be able to help you in the future.
- Gain humility by raising your hand. Working on a political campaign, even if you have phenomenal work experience, you’ll often need to start from the bottom. Be willing to raise your hand for everything and constantly say, “I’ll do it.” Your work ethic and willingness to learn will help you to move ahead quickly. Political campaigns change every day and have notoriously high turnover in staff. Raising your hand and being willing to do the menial tasks others won’t could mean moving up the food chain on campaign staff and potentially accepting a paid position sooner rather than later.
- Build your resume as you work. Offer to take on projects with clear results and see those projects as opportunities to add to your resume. Continue to update your resume as you work on the campaign so your results are immediately seen by the hiring managers of jobs you’re applying to.
- Expand your knowledge base. If you’ve spent your life in marketing, use a political campaign to learn another skill, perhaps moving into fundraising specifically or working with grassroots organizing. If you’ve never worked with social media, take the opportunity to learn how to spread the word online for your candidate.
- Your candidate might lose. Any time you pour your heart into something, you have to live with the fact that it might not work. Nowhere is this more clear than in a political campaign. But pour your heart in anyway. Because, win or lose, you’ll learn something about how to play the game. And taking the risk of putting your time and energy into a candidate who might not win may just show you that you’re ready to take that kind of risk in your own career – perhaps accepting a job you’re not certain about or starting down the path to a new education initiative or entrepreneurship. Candidates take huge risks when they run for office – their staff and volunteers do, too.
So fill the gap on your resume with ease by volunteering for a campaign you believe in.