14 Common Political Resume Mistakes and How To Fix Them

January 30, 2024


14 Common Political Resume Mistakes and How To Fix Them


Republican Jobs was started to help as many political operatives on the right as possible, regardless of which side of the Republican Party they’re on. I’ve personally reviewed more than 25,000 resumes in my political recruitment career, and probably even more than that. I’ve had the pleasure of placing thousands of operatives into various careers and campaigns. However, the resume mistakes I’ve seen have always remained consistent, so I felt it was time to get it in writing to help our applicants! 

Here are the 14 most common mistakes I’ve encountered, why they matter, and how to fix them. While none of these are major and are not hard to correct, these small improvements will make every recruiter, headhunter, and hiring manager thank you, leading to better job success. I hope that these tips will assist applicants in enabling us to better support them in their endeavors, or ‘help us help you’!


Part 1: The Basics (For Any Industry)


  1. Understand What a Resume Is Supposed To Do: The average employer views a resume for 5-7 seconds. That is how long you have to make sure they have an interest in interviewing you further or not. It is a one-page snapshot. While submitting two pages is fine for some circumstances, some employers don’t even view the second page or rip it off in some extreme cases. Make it clear, concise, and readable. It should be clear and visible. 


  1. You Don’t Need a Thousand Bullet Points: Especially in politics, you’re going to have a thousand different things you did on a job. If your title is accurate, we will have a basic understanding. Leave it short and sweet. There is nothing worse than a resume with a thousand bullet points under each job title, making them unreadable. Highlight the most important RELEVANT experience to the job you are applying for first, or at the very least, the most important things you did in the role in general. Most recruiters do not have the capacity with the amount we read each day to go past bullet point 2. You’re more likely to get passed over. 


  1. Newest Experience First: I see this a lot with talent in the 3-6 year range. They list their oldest experience first. There have been times where I thought their oldest job was their newest job and incorrectly thought the applicant was entry-level. Again, we see thousands of resumes, always list your newest experience first.


  1. Make Your Resume a .PDF: In the age of mobile phones, many hiring managers may view your application on their phone. If it is in a .doc or .docx, it may not open or be hard to read. Any program they use can make it a PDF. A few additional tips: Don’t just scan in your resume as a .PDF, this should be a text scannable .PDF as many firms use ATS/CRMs to track your application (more on this later). You never know if someone could falsely alter your resume, sending a resume protects you!


  1. You Don’t Need an Executive Summary: This isn’t the 80’s where there were physical resumes being mailed in, etc., and it was unclear where it came from. You don’t need an executive summary. Save the space to highlight your other skills. You only have one page!


  1. Make Sure Your Resume Is ATS/CRM Compliant: Especially when you’re working with placement firms such as Republican Jobs, Big Fish, or job boards such as GOP Jobs and Conservative Jobs, they manage applicants via ATS/CRM systems. Recruiters may have thousands of applicants we work with or are searching through, if your resume is not ATS/CRM compliant, we may miss some of your skill sets or miss key words on your resume in a search, meaning you’re missing out on jobs! If your resume is formatted and standardized correctly, if you’re unsure, you can upload your resume to websites like myperfectresume.com. All their formats are ATS/CRM compliant. I still have applicants that aren’t, and if I have to ask you to fix it, I’ve probably moved on to other people I can more immediately help. Don’t make a recruiter’s job harder, we only have a limited amount of time in a day to help as many people as possible. If it takes two-three days to hear back, we may have already been focused on another search or found someone else to refer to a client – unfortunately in politics, roles move fast. This brings us to our next point:


  1. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: I see amazing creative talent trying to reinvent or redesign their resume to look eye-catching. The reality is these resumes are rarely ATS/CRM compliant and hard to keep on file. Have a basic resume, your education and contact information at the top, your jobs in the middle, and your skills at the bottom or on the side.


  1. Avoid Sending an “Indeed” Resume: Indeed has their own version of their resume many applicants use. These are seen as low-quality to many employers. Indeed’s one-click apply means anyone can apply, including extremely underqualified or unqualified applicants. Many recruiters use Indeed as a last resort in their recruitment process due to high spam rates, and seeing an Indeed style resume may associate you with that pool. (That’s not to say applying on Indeed with a GOOD resume won’t HELP you stand out of the crowd, as it certainly will!).


Part 2: Making the Perfect Political Resume


Here are some of the mistakes I see with industry-specific issues:


  1. Not Including Political Experience in The First Place: Some may laugh reading this… but yes, we see this all the time. In someone’s first few years in politics, their campaign work may be seasonal. However, and for some reason when I mention this to applicants they act like I blew their mind, you can have a POLITICAL resume and a NON-POLITICAL resume. Send your political resume to political employers, and a non-political to non-political employers. You’re SUPPOSED to have multiple versions of your resumes tailored to a job. If we have to guess, we’re going to assume you don’t have any. 


  1. Not Listing Your Last Campaign: I still have applicants in 2024 who haven’t updated their campaigns since 2022 or sometimes even 2020. I’m not supposed to guess which campaign they worked on. If you moved up from an organizer since then, and all I have is your organizer experience, why would you be on the short list for a campaign manager, for example.


  1. Not Listing the Campaign or Firm Under the Job: We see this a lot with canvassers or entry-level talent. They’ve worked on 5-6 campaign deployments and can’t list the campaign or remember the name. The worst thing a seasoned campaign veteran can tell a recruiter is ‘I can’t remember who I worked for’, and it still happens weekly (there’s always one!). First off, it shows me you weren’t passionate enough about the campaign, two if you can’t list it because you’re under NDA (NDAs are only until the job ends) at least list which consulting firm you were working under. List it, again if you’re applying for roles outside of the industry make sure you have a POLITICAL resume with detail on it.


  1. Inflating Campaign Titles, We Always Know: When an entry-level applicant tells me they were a ‘campaign strategist’ when they were a canvasser, it’s ALWAYS obvious. I’m not sure what’s more offensive, the fact that an applicant did this, or the fact they think we’re that stupid. The worst offense I ever had was in 2017 when an applicant said he was the ‘Assistant to the Legislative Assistant’. This glorified intern lasted three days on a campaign due to ego. He was lucky he was hired against my better judgment. There are office jokes to be made here. Don’t falsify titles, I know politics and campaigns can have ambiguous titles, but don’t overinflate them. We know, and we usually know who you worked for enough to find out on the off chance we were to fall for something that ridiculous.


  1. Not Listing All Your Volunteer Experience and Political Involvement: I have passed on many applicants to later find that they in fact had volunteer experience they didn’t list. Political volunteer experience is absolutely experience. If I had two digital directors, and one had three years of digital ad experience plus political volunteer experience, and the other had four years of digital experience, I’m going with the three-year applicant. At least they probably spoke to a voter to know that messaging is a little more nuanced and that the average voter isn’t found in a social media echo chamber. But I digress that topic for a future blog.


  1. Putting Your Face on Your Resume: College students, I don’t know who told you in the career counseling department that this was a good idea, but it comes off tacky.


Final Points:

The most important part of this is that we take you as seriously as you take your resume. If you aren’t serious about your resume and application, why should we be serious about your performance? While we don’t expect with the hundreds of applications an applicant may submit to make a tailored resume to every job, we do expect one that is industry-specific, and to put some effort. If you can’t take your resume seriously, would you take our client’s job seriously?


Republican Jobs loves helping applicants proof their resumes and providing feedback. We hope this helps applicants find success and happy hunting!

Of course, if you’re on the market you can apply at www.RepublicanJobs.gop/apply and find current openings at www.RepublicanJobs.gop/opportunities.


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