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9 Job Tips You Can Learn From Politicians

When you think about it, politicians running for office are really just conducting one, long job interview with voters.

Jill Former | iStock Exclusive | Getty Images

So start taking some notes along the campaign trail — there are some good lessons that will help with a job search!

Here are nine things you can learn from politicians that will help with your job search.

1. Think of Your Job Search Like a Campaign.

Just like a politician gets out there, shaking hands and kissing babies, you, too, must get out there and spread the word to everyone and anyone who will listen that you are looking for a job.

“We’re talking about networking both online and shaking hands in person,” said Matthew Rothenberg, the editor-in-chief at TheLadders.comand co-author of “You’re Better Than Your Job Search.”

“You’re campaigning for a job,” he said.

So, initiate as many meetings as you can — whether it’s with someone you know who works at the company you’re applying to or an old colleague. And, very important — never turn down an invitation to a happy hour, birthday party or kids’ soccer game. Every outing is a chance to spread the word that you’re looking for a job.

2. Prepare a Stump Speech.

You are the candidate and when you campaign, they’re going to want to know what your message is.

Don’t — and that’s a capital DON’T — rely on your ad-libbing skills.

Write.

It.

Down.

“Politicians will write down their talking points that make their key arguments,” Rothenberg said. “You need to be able to have a stump speech that you can give over and over again … your 30-second recap of what you can offer to an employer.”

Now, that’s not to say memorize a script — just that you should know what your key talking points are and make sure you drive them home.

3. Remember: It’s Not About You.

One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is thinking it’s all about them. Why this job would be good for me. What’s in it for me.

You need to make sure you tell your future employer what’s in it for them.

“One of my favorite analogies is, ‘Ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company,’” Rothenberg said.

“Take that JFK mantra to heart!” he said. “It’s about how you will fit the needs of the organization.”

IT'S OK TO CHEAT

4. Cheat.

No! Not, cheating on your spouse. (Though we know more than a few politicians do that kind of cheating!)

What this cheating means is that you don’t have to come up with your three talking points on your own — you can get them right from the human-resources person at the company you’re applying to.

Just ask them: What are the top three things you’re looking for?

Then, all you have to do is fill in the blanks, about how you would fill those three things — how you are those three things.

5. Make Them Love You

Do you make a terrible first impression? Do you feel like people only like you once they’ve gotten to know you?

Well, too bad! Politicians don’t have that luxury — and neither do job seekers.

“I don’t care if you’re the smartest guy or gal in the room — if people don’t like you, it doesn’t matter!” said Peggy Klaus, a career coach and author of the book “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It.”

Klaus says be aware of the way you come across. Are you warm? Are you friendly? Do you look people in the eye?

“If you’re condescending and arrogant — they’re not going to vote for you — and they’re not going to hire you,” she explained.

If you’re shy or introverted, “that’s no excuse!” Klaus said. You can learn behaviors that will help endear you to people.

For example — Smiling.

“It’s not too hard! Even if you don’t feel like it — you act as if you’re delighted to be there,” Klaus said.

Plus, make eye contact. Give them a firm hand shake. Ask questions — and, this is the one people often forget — make sure you’re a good listener.

If you’re nervous, Klaus has a method for warming up.

“I go over the top. I get myself really excited,” Klaus explains. “As I’m walking down the hall for the interview, inside my head, I’m saying: 'I’M REALLY EXCITED TO BE HERE! I’M SO DELIGHTED TO MEET THESE PEOPLE! I CAN’T WAIT FOR THEM TO MEET ME!'

It sounds crazy — but it works. What you’re doing, Klaus says, is focusing on the positive — and shoving out all those negative thoughts like, “My pants are too tight” or “I hate my hair.”

6. Remember, You’re ‘On’ 24-7

It’s not just during the job-application process or the interview — you have to be “on” at all times.

“Make sure that your brand is what you want communicated at all times — 24-7,” Klaus said. “That means from the way you walk into the interview, physically, vocally — to not having any Facebook photos of you drinking and smoking a hookah,” she said.

And, don’t start slacking just because you’ve landed the job — you have to keep it up even after you’re hired.

“The day after they’re elected, politicians are running again,” Klaus said. “And the same thing holds true for a job candidate — Even when you get the job, you’re still auditioning. People are judging you all the time.”

7. When You Screw Up, Do Some Crisis Management.

“Just like reporters’ or citizens can dish the dirt on a politician by looking through what’s searchable online — folks have the goods on you as well!” Rothenberg said.

“It’s very important that you search the public record the same way that employers most assuredly will — there’s no getting around that,” he said.

So make sure you Google yourself, know what’s out there — and either clean it up, or make sure you address it head on in the interview.

You should always assume that the interviewer has Googled you, so have your answers ready — especially for the embarrassing stuff.

"You can spin anything if you use the right words,” said comedian Harrison Greenbaum. “Caught stealing company funds at your last job? You were 'recognized for your wealth redistribution acumen.' Caught cheating on your wife with your secretary? You 'excelled at internal affairs.' Caught drinking excessively at your advertising firm? Well, that would probably make an awesome TV show," he quipped.

8. Stay. On. Message.

Politicians get peppered with tons of questions that are all across the map — Do you support the Tea Party? What did you think of Lady Gaga’s meat dressat the VMAs? Do you have a love child?

You won’t face nearly that many crazy questions — but you still need to take a page out of the campaign book and, no matter what you’re asked — stay on point.

“No matter what the question is, and no matter how impertinently put, the politician has an answer and doesn’t get distracted by the host’s badgering,” Cenedella and Rothenberg write in "You're Better Than Your Job Search." “We can’t say whether that’s good for us voters, but we can tell you it’s deadly effective for giving a great interview!”

So stay on message. No matter what they ask you, always circle back to your three main points.

9. Be Persistent.

Some people treat applying for a job like dating.

Should I call again? Is it too soon? Maybe I should wait for him to call me?

That may work for dating but when you’re applying for a job — you have to be persistent.

“It’s OK to be persistent in asking for that endorsement — getting that endorsement from the hiring manager, from the company,” Rothenberg said. “Hopefully they’ll vote for you.”

Oh, and don’t forget to vote for yourself!



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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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