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Job Hunt Like a Presidential Candidate

Next week, the country will decide which candidate lands the biggest job in the free world: President of the United States. When you boil down the fundraising, campaign appearances, debates and advertising efforts, candidates from each of the major parties have spent the better part of the last two years essentially launching a complex job search.

What can we take away from the presidential hopefuls and apply to our own quest?

Fundraising: One of the single most important rules in fundraising applies to hunting for a job. That rule is “If you want the funds, you have to ask for them.” In job searching, as in most things in life, information is powerful. Whether it’s the hiring managers contact information, details about hiring cycle timing, insider knowledge about the company’s priorities and culture, or simply whether or not the job you seek is even available, knowledge can sometimes make the difference between whether or not your resume gets in front of the right people at the right time. To be in the know, you have to be unafraid to ask for the details. You might not get the answer you want on the first try, but you won’t know anything at all unless you ask.

Campaign appearances: These past few weeks it seems a person can’t turn on the television without news of a candidate’s visit to a town hall, factory, or parking lot somewhere. This is the presidential candidate equivalent of networking events, and without it, their fundraising and campaign efforts would lose momentum. Your job search is the same way. Networking events and online communities give you the opportunity to build momentum by listening to other people’s input and sharing your knowledge. Building positive relationships with people often yields unexpected opportunities.

Advertising: They might seem tiresome, but the endless barrage of political ads – on television, radio, internet and social media serve an important purpose. When they use these ads, the candidates are applying the rule of frequency to their campaigns, which means that the more their audiences see the ads, the more likely they will be to remember their name and message. Your job search can also apply this principle without spending the gazillions of dollars (albeit without the same reach) using social media. Make sure your presence on social media is consistent and professional. Use the same profile picture for LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Google+ and Twitter (or whatever social media you frequent) and make sure to keep your exchanges or contributions courteous, clean and professional. Whether you have a following of 2 or 1,200, you still have a following and are building your brand with each update or comment. Make it count.

Debates: Some pundits argue that presidential debates have become nothing more than entertainment and talk show fodder; others claim that they are critical campaign points on the way to the White House. Either way, the idea behind the debates is to offer viewers valuable information on key platform issues in order to help them make informed decisions. They’re the Presidential equivalent of job interviews with the moderator serving as the interviewee. Presidential candidates spend hours in preparation with key advisors, who help them prep their material and even decide what tie to wear.

In a heated debate, the slightest misstep, when broadcast on television, radio and internet, can quickly demolish a candidates’ chances of earning favor with key constituencies. Likewise, thorough preparation, practice, and asking a trusted mentor or friend for guidance can help a job searcher navigate interviews and deliver a winning performance.

The road to the White House is a long and arduous one. Your job search doesn’t have to be. With these tips, you might not be sitting in the Oval Office, but you could wind up sitting pretty with the job of your dreams.

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