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Prime your resume for politics

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21st-May-2017       
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Alyssa Walker :
If you follow politics and wonder about how to get involved, there are a myriad of options for current students and recent graduates.  During campaign season, volunteers and interns work on the ground with organizers-while the pay isn't great, the experience is invaluable.  You gain access to skills you wouldn't otherwise have and get a behind-the-scenes look at what politics from the inside.  This lets you get a sense of the players involved and see if you have what it takes.
If you've recently graduated, consider the life of a legislative aide; you'll work directly with legislators, and while you won't weigh in on legislative decisions, you will gain exposure to the legislative process and learn how a bill becomes a law, catchy-tune optional.
Analysts, lobbyists, campaign managers, and pollsters have a role to play too, and you can't get there unless you start somewhere else (see above).
Where do you start?
Your resume.
To work in politics, you need to write a resume that does these six things:
1. Sound Human
You are not a bot, and neither is the person who reads your resume.  Use clear, plain language that describes what you do.  Buzzwords are important, but not as important as sounding like a real person with legitimate interests, experiences, and skills.
2. Practice Brevity
It is, after all, the soul of wit-and a critical skill in the political arena, where you need to get your point across succinctly. Your resume should be easy to read in form and function. Use standard margins, easy typeface, 11- or 12-point font, and allow some whitespace. If you have worked for less than 10 years, your resume should fit on one page.  Keep your bullet points neat and fit each bullet point's content to one.  A tidy, respectable, brief resume shows a trustworthy, pithy applicant.  That's what you want.
3. Emphasize your Past Political Involvement
Put your political experience at the top of your resume, where a potential employer will see it first.  Consider the heading "Political Experience."  In this section, include any relevant volunteer work for political campaigns, university politics, or internships you've already completed.  If you have no prior political experience, show your addiction to all things politics-list the newspapers or political blogs that you follow, list your memberships and leadership roles in any relevant political organizations.
4. Pinpoint Your Politician's Geographical Region
Sense of place is critical-tailor your resume to the politician to whom you're applying.  Show that you know the politician, his or her positions on the issues, and the geographical area that the politician serves.
5. Showcase your Skills
All political jobs require that you are trustworthy, quick, and can communicate with ease.  At the bottom of your resume, include any tech skills that you have, computer platforms that you know, social media you're comfortable using, other languages that you speak, any professional certificates that you have.  If you have some truly unique skills, feel free to share them but ensure that they do not detract from your experience.  Reconsider the baton-twirling unicyclist skill unless you think it's relevant.
6. Track your Political Work
Keep track of any task you've performed as a volunteer or staff member of any political campaign.  Save news clippings, pamphlets, and other pertinent materials, and if you can, add them as links in your resume.  Anything you've done in politics is relevant.
The first step to working in politics?  A polished resume that showcases your interests, talents, skills, and above all-honesty and intelligence.  The best advice?  Keep it simple.  The hectic world of politics isn't for the faint of heart.  Do it for the right reasons: for the common good.

(Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family).

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