Warm Southern Breeze

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Need A Job? Joe Biden Is Hiring!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, November 29, 2020


Joe Biden is hiring about 4,000 political staffers to work in the White House and federal agencies. Here’s how you can boost your chances getting a job in the new administration, according to 3 experts.

Robin Bravender

Biden jobs
President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his newly-picked national security team in Wilmington, Delaware on November 24, 2020. Biden will have thousands more political and non-political jobs to fill in 2021.
Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images
  • President-elect Joe Biden is hiring about 4,000 political staffers to work in the White House and federal agencies.
  • Former campaign staff and Democratic insiders will have a leg up in getting their résumés considered, but government employment experts say there will be room for Washington newcomers, too.
  • The Biden administration is promising to build its team from a big talent pool that “looks like America and works for all Americans.”
  • The transition team created a portal where you can apply for jobs in the Biden White House and agencies across government, like the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Education. You can even try for obscure panels like a US-Russia commission on polar bears.
  • To be considered, employment experts urge job applicants to be clear about what they want, keep their application materials concise, play up their skills, and work any connections.

So you want to go work for Joe Biden.

You’re in luck. The president-elect has thousands of jobs to dole out inside the White House and federal agencies.

But you’ll probably want to get moving quickly since the incoming team is anxious to get up to full strength as it races to replace outgoing Trump administration staffers with its own people. You’re not the only one hoping to get a job on the new team, and you can expect stiff competition.

“There will be tens of thousands of people who are very excited about this administration and want to be a participant in it,” says Katherine Archuleta, who led the Obama administration’s Office of Personnel Management, the federal agency that manages government employees.

Of course, it helps if you have powerful allies who can vouch for you and help get your résumé in front of the right people. Connections are everything in Washington, and people who worked on Biden’s campaign or have ties to his orbit will have a leg up when it comes to scoring one of roughly 4,000 political jobs that change hands when a new administration arrives.

If you blindly send in a résumé to the Biden transition team or the White House personnel office, “the odds of the résumés actually being taken seriously are pretty darn low,” said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University.

But don’t despair if you don’t count political insiders among your family and friends. You might still land your dream job at the State Department, the National Park Service or the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

One thing that might work in your favor: the Biden administration is promising to build its team from a big and diverse talent pool that “looks like America and works for all Americans.” The transition team even has a job portal on its website where you can apply directly for everything from White House jobs to obscure posts like a seat on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission or the US-Russia Polar Bear Commission.

“They’ll be looking for all kinds of people,” says Kathryn Troutman, founder of the Resume Place, a business that coaches clients through the federal hiring process. People with specific expertise might be top job contenders, she added. “It’s going to be harder if you don’t know someone, but I still think it’s good to try.”

Before you fire off your résumé to the transition team, here are some tips from three federal employment experts.

Experts predict a surge in federal employment after President Donald Trump regularly criticized government workers during his tenure.
Tasos Katopodis/Stringer/Getty Images

Know where to start

First off, you should consider where you might want to work in the federal government.

There are two major types of government jobs: political appointments that change over with a new administration, and civil service positions that come with more security and don’t swap out every four or eight years when the White House changes hands.

The pay for political appointees ranges from about $19,000 per year to about $220,000 for some senior officials and agency leaders. Top White House staffers like chief of staff Mark Meadows and immigration aide Stephen Miller earn $183,000 per year, according to the most recent White House report. Career officials’ basic pay ranges from roughly $19,000 to $197,000 for top-level officials. Some specialists in the civil service can make much more, though, including some doctors who earn more than $300,000 per year.

Biden and his team will be hiring about 4,000 political appointees, including about 1,200 high-level jobs that require Senate confirmation.

They’ll probably have a lot of applications to sort through. For context, the Obama transition team got more than 300,000 job applications in 2008, roughly equivalent to the entire population of Iceland, CNN reported at the time.

To get ready to apply, you should spruce up your résumé to make it current. You’ll also want to get a sense of which job or jobs in the government you want to snag. The massive “Plum Book” — a sacred document among Washington insiders that’s prepared every four years after the presidential election — contains details about roughly 9,000 top government jobs. The 2016 version contained 236 pages, and an updated version is expected to come out soon.

Once you figure out what you want to do, Biden’s team is taking applications for political appointments through its transition website. That allows applicants to pick their policy interests and choose which agencies or commissions across the federal bureaucracy they’d like to work for.

After Biden’s inauguration, his team is expected to set up a website that’s similar to the current White House site where applicants for jobs and internships can now apply to work for the Trump administration.

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service offers additional tips on how to get a job as a political appointee.

To land a job in the civil service, there’s a hiring portal that lists all the open competitive jobs throughout the federal government. Note, however, that the process can be lengthy. Light, the professor at New York University says it takes an average of about 100 days between a job being posted and a decision to hire someone. So don’t give up if you don’t get the offer quickly.

Government hiring experts predict that those civil service jobs will become more attractive after the Trump administration exits. Trump has continually slammed federal workers during his tenure and derided civil service protections, while Biden has promised to reverse Trump’s policies.

And if you can’t decide between a political appointment or a civil service gig, try for both, Troutman of Resume Place advises.

Be specific

You might hurt your chances if you apply for too much, former Obama official Archuleta says.

“I think they have to be very specific about what they’re interested in,” she says of job seekers.

Archuleta urges candidates for political jobs to know exactly what they’re applying for and spell that out clearly in their applications because that’s how they’ll be sorted when the process begins. She suggests that job seekers pore over the Plum Book before they submit anything and identify the top three jobs they’re interested in.

Get their attention but keep it short

Troutman recommends keeping your résumé shorter than three pages for political appointments, although she notes that civil service résumés are typically much longer. That’s because the people reviewing applications for political appointees will be short on time.

She also advises applicants to highlight five accomplishments on the first page of their résumé to increase the likelihood that they’ll get noticed.

Archuleta suggests a very brief cover letter that highlights job seekers’ skills. “That shouldn’t be more than 250 to 275 words,” she says. And the third paragraph should be a bulleted description of how their experience relates to the job they’re seeking.

“I think there are some very simple things that will make it easy for them to actually get their names in front of a reviewer,” according to Archuleta, but the key is making it as easy as possible for the people sorting through the applications.

Use those connections

Don’t just send in your application through a job website, Troutman says. She also suggests giving the documents to members of Congress, senators, or other political insiders to pass along.

People who know how to work the system, Light says, get their materials sent in an envelope from Capitol Hill or delivered by a campaign staffer. The secret, he says, “is to have your résumé delivered by somebody in power.”

But Archuleta also says it’s more important to understand the hiring process than to have friends on the inside. The Biden team, she says, will be looking for a team with experience managing staff and with policy and practical experience.

“I think that the Biden administration is really going to live up to its proclamation that it’s going to build an administration that reflects the American people,” Archuleta says.

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