JOB SEARCH / OCT. 27, 2015
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What Job Hunters Can Learn from Politicians’ Tactics

The United States is in full election mode, while Canada just finished up its dreadful 78-day campaign. During the election season, and while all politicians are sitting in office, job hunters can learn a lot from our esteemed elected officials, and just how (or how not) to be deceptive. If you’re a jobseeker then it’s time to take out your notebook and watch some footage from some of our greatest (or not) leaders: Barack Obama, David Cameron, Francois Hollande and Justin Trudeau. 

See AlsoWhat Does it Take to Become a Politician? 

Politicians don’t necessarily have a high moral code. They put their finger in the wind, they do whatever they feel is politically expedient and they read the polls and determine their policy decisions from there. Scandals? Sweep it under the rug. Lies? Use vague language. Misconduct? Blame it on the other guy. 

Job hunters shouldn’t actually replicate the behaviors of politicians, but rather their ways of handling a crisis. If you want to do well in life and be respected by having a strong constitution then you pretty much do the opposite of what politicians tend to do. With that being said, some of their tactics when it comes to damage control can be truly astounding. 

Here are seven ways job hunters can learn from politicians’ tactics:

1. Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

No matter where you are in the world, election campaigns are fun to watch. It’s a sublime spectator sport. You have politicians pretending to be Santa Claus and promising goodies for all. When was the last time a politician said: "Look, we’re cash-strapped and we can’t afford this. We have to pay down the debt"? It’s very hard to find. Instead, politicians and candidates make promises they can’t possibly keep. 

As a jobseeker, you can’t make promises of unicorns and rainbows. You, as a job applicant, have to showcase what you can actually do and not what you may do. For instance, if you’re a journalist and pitching a story to the editor who’s interviewing you, you can’t promise an interview with Pope Francis, Donald Trump and Tom Hardy all in one week. Or, if you’re an accountant, don’t pledge you can balance the company’s books in three months or give somebody a $10,000 tax return.

Just deliver. It’s as simple as that.

2. Put Forward an Apology Over Social Media Transgressions

The latest Canadian federal election was a wonderful case study on how your social media activity can hurt your run for public office. Dozens of candidates had to either drop out or issue an apology (even declare ignorance as one candidate who is a teacher didn’t know what Auschwitz was) because of their social media postings. Many tweets and Facebook messages were racist, bigoted, homophobic, anti-Semitic and many other controversial descriptions. 

Human resource managers concede that your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn histories are now an important facet to the job hunt. If he finds you have been posting nude photos of yourself, they’ll pass you over. If she finds you have been tweeting vicious comments against your MP or Senator then you’ll be ignored. Indeed, it’s impossible to delete your social media past, so just apologize and explain that you were immature, young and wrong for your remarks.

3. Opposition Research During the Campaign

In order to run a successful campaign, you have to perform the necessary research on your opposition, your potential constituents and the party’s platform and record. Without this research, you’ll simply be trounced come Election Day. 

When you apply for jobs and prior to going in for an interview, you have to conduct your research and perform your due diligence on the company. This includes its history, news headlines, staff members and mission statement. Try to also look for information on the industry.

4. Personality Over Substance

If you’re not cool then it’s a good chance you won’t be elected, especially by today’s millennial voters. Case in point is President Obama and soon-to-be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Both of these campaigns incorporated the same strategy: style over substance. It’s all about being hip, cool, taking selfies and making pop culture references. 

Yes, your education, work experience and overall acumen are important, but your personality will be the ultimate dealbreaker. Remember, there are thousands of other candidates with pretty much the same type of resume as yours. What will make you stand out from the crowd? Your personality!

5. Be the Best Communicator

When you look back at history, some of the greatest communicators were politicians. Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Indeed, there are some other not-so-great communicators from political history: George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Jimmy Carter, Jean Chretien and Richard Nixon. 

You will understand that maintaining a great skill of communication will get you very far. If you’re a millennial and you have excellent communication skills then you already have an advantage. Young people these days can’t express themselves eloquently in today’s world. Once you can communicate at a high level then you’ll be able to sell yourself, get your point across and speak at ease with your superiors.

6. Refrain From Embellishing the Truth

This is how politicians climb up the mountain of politics: embellishing the truth. The reason why politicians enjoy this concept is because they don’t think they’re necessarily lying but rather dressing up the truth. If you’re an incumbent you’ll certainly like this very much! 

Don’t embellish the truth. It’s as simple as that. Just because you attended college, you shouldn’t say you graduated. Just because you were a junior clerk, you shouldn’t tell the boss that you were a senior clerk. Sure, you attended college or you were a clerk, but it isn’t the whole story.

7. Have a Strong Support Group

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A politician can’t get elected unless he has a strong team behind him. These are the ones who will effectively make or break the campaign. Their hard work, dedication, political maneuvering and so many other attributes will showcase to constituents that you are the company you keep. 

Akin to social media activity, hiring managers tend to look at your connections and followers as a sign of what kind of professional you really are. If your support group is filled with sloths and unemployed and uneducated then the HR manager will tend to question your character. On the other hand, if your support group is filled with professionals, highly-qualified individuals and kind people, then the HR manager will take kindly to your application.

See Also10 Celebrities Who Became Politicians 

As Woody Allen humorlessly said in "Annie Hall": "Lyndon Johnson is a politician, you know the ethics those guys have. It’s like a notch underneath child molester." And he’s dead right. No one should ever strive to be a politician, whether you’re a child or you’re fresh out of college. 

Politicians employ many tactics that can prove to be either extremely helpful or harmful to your career and job hunt. If you’re a political junkie then you already understand what we’re talking about. However, if you suffer from a case of political apathy, then perhaps it’s time to start picking up a newspaper as you head on over to a job interview. 

What strategies do you take from politicians in your quest for the perfect job? Let us know in the comments section... 

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