Getting a job on a Presidential campaign

Last November, we posted that we expected hiring to start up again in late winter/early spring, and the floodgates have indeed opened. Many progressive and political-oriented organizations are now hiring, including many declared Democratic Presidential candidates.[^1] If you want to jump right to the jobs that are open click here otherwise read on!

Disclaimer: Progressive Data Jobs is not affiliated with any organization or campaign. We are not here to recommend any candidate nor to provide any opinions on the campaigns. This is intended as broad guidance informed by past experiences. Your mileage may vary.

For folks who are interested in working on a Presidential campaign and haven’t been through the process before, here is a brief summary of what to expect on the job front:

  1. Hiring timelines and availability of roles will vary by campaign based on resources (money) and priorities. Some will invest heavily in data early to set up their infrastructure, others will wait until they’ve gained traction and/or are ready to dig in on direct voter contact, or not hire more than a bare minimum of data managers or polling consultants.
  2. Over the next few months, candidates will continue filling out senior roles such as Directors for departments at the national HQ and in priority states (e.g., Early primary State Data Director). Campaigns will likely hire mid-level and junior roles after their directors are in place.
  3. While campaign structures vary, we can broadly categorize jobs that fall under “data & analytics.” You will see a variety of titles and job descriptions, as there aren’t agreed upon norms. Additionally, there isn’t inherent value in having an HQ job over a state job – they simply offer different opportunities.a. Senior level – national HQ: Heads of departments and their close advisors who usually play a large role in strategic decision making and resource allocations. These roles go to folks with extensive campaign experience.b. Senior level – state: Counterparts to the national roles. They have strategic purview for their state, informed by on the ground information and guidance from national strategies. “Battleground” states are most likely to have these types of roles and incoming experience varies.c. Mid & junior level – national HQ: Data managers, reporting managers, data visualizations, analysts, data scientists, pollsters, the list goes on. HQ can employ a wide array of skill sets to support their strategies. Some staff will have broad purviews (consulting a set of state directors) while others will have very specific roles (executing surveys for models). Previous campaign experience is valuable but not required for all roles.d. Mid & junior level – state: While often having similar skill set to their national counterparts, they are very “field” focused and support much of the day to day work in important states. Previous campaign experience is valuable but not required for all roles.
  4. Expect many waves of hiring as (a) candidates get a better sense of what staffing needs they have and (b) some candidates start to drop out and resources consolidate around front runners. You could join as early as right now or as late as a month before Election Day November of 2020. When you try to jump in will impact what role you may get. Don’t expect to join a month or two out from Election Day and be running things.
  5. It’s not uncommon for campaigns to have general resume banks in lieu of specific job descriptions. Assume that a general HR or operations person may be reviewing and “sorting” resumes. Tailor resumes and cover letters appropriately, you might want to be explicit about your area(s) of interest. We offer some advice here!
  6. In lieu of specific job descriptions, it can be hard to know exactly what a campaign is hiring for, so if you have any interest just apply! You have nothing to lose by throwing your hat in the ring, and in the meantime, work your networks (read our tips on how to reach out!).
  7. Getting a job on a presidential campaign can be a game of hurry up and wait and then hurry up and wait and… it’s possible to go weeks or months without hearing back but then be asked “can you be in x city by Monday?” Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is possible to negotiate start dates. We encourage you to check out the “application” section of our guide to getting a job in analytics for more recommendations on the application process.
  8. Campaign spending is public information, which means that staff salaries are discoverable with some effort on the FEC site. But salaries can range widely based on location, role, the candidate’s overall financial situation, etc. (as of this post, we do not know of any sites aggregating the FEC data on staff salaries in an easy to view format). Check out the 2017 Salary Survey and 2018 Salary Survey for general guidance.

These tips are obviously not complete, but we wanted to give a little sense of how the process usually works. What is happening right now is normal and expected, but can be confusing to navigate. It’s an opaque process and campaigns are pretty much always building the plane as they fly it.

To make this easier, we’ve compiled the hiring information we have for the declared candidates. We will periodically repost this with edits as things evolve. See more here

P.S. Did you get an interview? Or a job!? Congrats! We would love to hear about it. Fill out our brief survey. You’ll have our eternal gratitude.

[^1]: Has officially announced for President and has either an active campaign or exploratory committee

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