Job Search Lessons from The US Political Conventions



Both Republicans and Democrats have convened, nominated and received acceptance of that nomination of their candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. It has been a long road for Donald J. Trump and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and in fewer than 100 days one will be elected President and the other will return home, defeated and exhausted by their effort.

Before we go any further, to be clear, this is not about politics or advocating for any candidate. I am not taking sides or want comments about how one candidate or the other is a this or that.


  1. You have to put in effort and money in order to be nominated for a job.

Yes, I know this is a pre-convention comment but it is a fact. For you, as a job hunter, you can get some interviews but great interviews are going to take a lot of effort. Politicians may go through primaries but you’re going to have to network, including activating your existing network and building your network out further in order to walk in the door. I was once told that 70% of all positions are filled through networking; 70% of the 70% are filled as a result of networking to people that you didn’t know what the beginning of your job search. Do you think you should be spending time on job boards or building your network?

  1. The people you meet with will have impressions of you before meeting you.

They are obviously investing time in meeting with you because they believe you have skills and experience that can help them, same as the politicians. Your job is to learn and confirm what they are thinking about you before you meet with them. Your job is to confirm and exceed their expectations. Part of that involves demonstrating knowledge and skills competence. The other part involves delighting them with who you are as a person. People hire people they know like and trust.

Maybe this won’t work for the politicians in this election but it works in job hunting. Be the person who, ideally, is referred to the hiring manager by someone who knows them and you who they trust.

  1. There’ll be surprises when you least expect it.

Certainly, the DNC learned that the hard way at their convention; the RNC learned it to with have few a-list Republicans were willing to attend. Surprises are rarely good in job hunting. As a matter of fact, in my 40 someone years of experience filling jobs I can only think of one good surprise among the more than 1200 positions I filled. Don’t be complacent; always be presenting yourself in a great light.

  1. You can recover from problems in the interview with great support from surrogates.

The Republicans were criticized for a chaotic start to their convention yet they recovered and closed strong. Trump was critiqued to have given a good acceptance speech. He had a good bounce in the polls as a result.

The first two days of the Democratic convention were equally chaotic. It is not common for the head of a political party to resign just before the convention and need to leave before the nominee is installed. It is not common for the losing candidate’s followers to be as demonstrably oppositional as they were at the Democratic convention.

Strong advocates for your candidacy can make a difference with decision-makers. Always see if you know someone who works at the firm your interviewing with and whether they are willing to advocate for you with the hiring manager, just like Pres. Obama and VP Biden did for Sec. Clinton and Donald Trump’s offspring did for him.

  1. Confirm what is expected of you.

Although both presidential candidates say they were trying to widen their following, if you listen carefully, both really spoke to their base, rather than attempt to widen their following. In a job search, your job is to confirm that you know what you claim to know and that you can do what they need you to do.

  1. Feedback shapes the discussion

Depending what channel you watched, you saw different conventions. NBC was different than MSNBC, different than CBS, different than Fox, different than CNN and different than ABC.

Who is the hiring manager listening to and how can you get to them to support you in their eyes, particularly if there was a “rough edge” during the interview.

I remember a job applicant who believed he answered a question correctly and saw a puzzled look on the interviewer’s face who disagreed with the answer. I encouraged him to email his reasoning and proof to both the interviewer and the hiring manager, saying there was an obvious disagreement over the correct answer. He offered citations for the answer provided and was hired after one final interview.

Here’s one more thing that doesn’t have anything to do with the convention.

  1. Ask for and hire help.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Hire help before that knowledge gap comes back to bite you in a part of your anatomy that will be very painful and cost you an opportunity you really want.



© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2016


Do you think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

The skills needed to find a job are different and complement the skills needed to do a job

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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