Curious about running for office? Maybe you’ve wanted to get into politics for a while now, or maybe the election lit a fire inside you. Whatever it is, congratulations! We need more women with political ambition to rise and follow this dream. Less than a quarter of elected officials are women and the numbers are even lower for women of color.
Even if this dream is 1, 2, 5 years off, are things you can start doing now. Be sure to check out our five-step guide to running for office and keep reading below for our tips on how to build your resume to run for political office.
What should I include in my actual resume?
Your professional experience to demonstrate history and growth
If you’re in your 20s, just starting out, it is totally acceptable to include intern or volunteer experience. One of the goals of your resume is to show growth and history. Put your work history in chronological order to demonstrate how you’ve progressed through the years. Maybe you volunteered during your high school years, interned for a Senator or Congressperson during college, or worked on a campaign or in a legislative office, include it, and show how you took on more responsibilities with each role.
Show transferable skills
An array of skills are applicable to politics, from writing to policy research to speaking another language. They are all important. Even things you may not think of like social media. As a Millennial or Gen Z woman, you have an obvious advantage of growing up with social media. This know-how will come in handy for campaigning, distributing messages, and connecting with those in your community. These are irreplaceable skills, so promote these skills by working them into the description of each position you’ve held.
- Written communications
- Media and public relations knowledge
- Social media prowess
- Campaign work
- Second language proficiency or fluency
Highlight Community Involvement
You’ll want to include community work on your resume as well. Whether it’s sitting on a board, regularly volunteering with a specific cause or organization you care about, or volunteering for a political campaign use this as an opportunity to show you’re committed to working towards creating a better community.
As you think about developing your skills over the next few years, don’t forget about “soft skills”. These aren’t skills you’d necessarily put on a resume but ones that should speak for themselves and you should continue to hone throughout your career. These are the skills you’ll need to connect with constituents, other elected officials, and carry you through campaigning.
Soft skills of elected officials:
- Social awareness and vision – political leaders are great reading people. They understand what motivates people and how to bring together their own political motivations with the needs and concerns of those they serve.
- Relationship building and social influence - building relationships, connecting with others, and motivating others to advocate for you are all skills political leaders need.
- Networking – networking goes beyond just relationship building, in networking you need to be able to form alliances and partnerships to move policies and agendas into action.
- Sincerity and empathy – the most well-respected politicians are those who are open and honest and can also relate to the people they represent. Get to know the needs and concerns of those in your community so you can understand all points of view.
As you work towards your goal of actually launching a campaign, here are some things you can start doing today to get you ready:
Speeches and presentations will be a big part of your future as an elected official, so public speaking is an essential skill to hone. Whether your school offers courses or you decide to join a professional organization such as ToastMasters, learning how to communicate as a calm, knowledgeable, and passionate speaker is vital to your success.
Social media can be such a huge asset for political campaigns and time in office, but many people don’t know how to use it effectively. From engaging with followers to using these platforms to advertise and promote your agenda, learning to connect with constituents in this way will set you apart. Start your page or profile today and begin sharing relevant content to attract followers.
Get involved in local politics and causes
Get involved now to build your political resume. Volunteer for a local campaign or committee, join a local chapter of your chosen political party, or maybe shadow someone currently in office. Becoming an active member of your community can help you get noticed, find mentors, and start building a name for yourself as a future leader.
Find a mentor
Getting to know political members in your community is the best way to learn the ins and outs of the job. You can learn from their mistakes, bounce ideas off someone more experienced, and tap into their network for future relationship building.
Here at IGNITE, we support you in following this dream. Our goal is to help more young women into elected office. Start training with us today!