Why I started a job board to help more people work in politics
I’m Elizabeth Eadie and more than likely you don’t know me. I want to help digital talent around the country find good paying jobs in politics so I started a simple job board. Here’s why it’s needed:
Though I fancy myself an outsider, having only worked in politics for five years and having had two other creative chapters in my professional life before doing so, I’m currently in the weeds of digital politics. I don’t have tons of online followers. Politico doesn’t celebrate my birthday. And I haven’t had a high profile job that writes me a one-way ticket to whatever I want for the rest of my career.
If you’ve kept up with digital politics in the last five years, however, you know my work. You also know the work of many people I’ve mentored and championed in politics. I’m part of a huge wave of digitally skilled people working to elect Democrats across the country. My peers in this line of work are exceptionally talented, passionate individuals who I feel fortunate to work with.
Because I had some significant experience before working in politics, I was able to position myself in a senior level job from my entrance. I was the creative director at the DNC from 2013–2015. Design had a major role in politics long before I showed up. I like to think that my friends and I utilized design in more effective ways during those years as we reached new fundraising heights, never before seen outside of a presidential cycle. When you can tie your skill to actual dollars, people notice.
I was quickly able to hire a team and the work we were doing began to be sought after by other organizations, state parties, down-ballot races, and other committees.
I was grateful for being able to build a team inside the DNC and had a strong point of view about how I was going to do it. I was not going to hire a single “political designer” full-stop. I was going to recruit from great design schools because I’d rather teach a passionate and talented designer about politics than teach an average designer who knows politics how to be more inspired.
Finally, I was going to make sure I hired people better than me. I knew that I’d made a ripple as a team of one, but I wanted my team to make waves and if I let my ego stand in the way of that, the whole party would suffer. The work we created together certainly made waves.
But it’s not just the work that gets noticed. People get noticed, too. Those designers that joined the team in the ’14 cycle became leaders in the field. One was recruited to become Hillary Clinton’s first design hire and spent 18 months on the campaign. One went to work for the super exclusive advertising agency, Huge. And one stayed and was promoted to art director where she got to build her own team and shape the direction of the party’s designs.
One of the coolest things about demonstrating the immense value of diverse hiring, recruiting from outside, and hiring for raw talent is that once you do it, there is a domino effect of others repeating the process. When the art director got to build her team, she did the same thing.
After those first few years as creative director, I was promoted to deputy digital director where I got a more broad view of staffing throughout our digital team. This is where things got interesting. In addition to hiring for our own staff, I noticed that opportunities and candidates are passed around for all kinds of roles, inside and outside of the committee. When I later moved over to a political advertising agency and joined their senior staff, the same thing was happening there.
Organizations, agencies, committees, and campaigns are all well aware of the need to bring in new talent but so many fall into the same traps of yesteryear. They recruit from a few schools in DC. They send around job openings to listservs and share in random google docs that only certain insiders even know about. Some put money behind postings and promote them on LinkedIn or other huge national career sites. But worst of all, they email their networks.
That has always bothered me the most. The emails usually originate from a white male in a senior role and the job opening gets disseminated through his network which includes a bunch more white males, maybe some white women, and if they’re lucky, a person of color. That’s what leadership looks like right now in too many organizations. (HT to the DNC for working to change this)
So, here is the crux of why I started this job board:
Digital political jobs should be listed publicly and easy to find.
We should hire people outside of our networks.
Simple, huh? But somehow it’s not. Some people might feel resistance to this openness. They might prefer pre-vetted candidates because it saves them time from early vetting themselves. They might like pedigree and familiarity. A stamp of approval that says this person will fall in line.
But those are not Democratic party values. And it’s not what’s going to help us win 2018 and 2020. We need more voices at the table to challenge our thinking and open our minds and hearts to their points of view. Organizations and agencies and committees are actively working to hire to align with the values they espouse.
Our teams need to look and sound like our constituencies.
There are a few job boards in DC that even require job hunters to pay for access — that blows my mind. Talent has the upper hand these days. Especially the diverse digitally-skilled talent pool. Everyone in Democratic politics knows they need more people from diverse backgrounds and points of view to staff their campaigns.
Furthermore, digital skills allow for remote work and politics is finally starting to catch up. Digital jobs have historically been in-house until just this cycle. So finally, if you have the right skills but don’t want to move to DC, you can find a job in digital politics and plant yourself online from the comfort of your home. With DC being one of the most expensive cities in the US, I wouldn’t blame someone in Florida or Arkansas for wanting to make an impact from where they already are.
As digital skills take on more of the campaign functions and digital leaders move into campaign manager roles, Democrats around the country and organizations supporting them will have no choice but to swing the door wide open to talent in order to staff the many roles needing to be filled in the next two cycles.
This job board is for those digital staffers, wherever they are. If they want to find a paying job in politics, this is a job board that can help them do that. I started this job board to show everyone what opportunities are out there, no matter how connected they may be to current digital leaders. Yes, I want to help the party. Yes, I want to staff up all of these organizations, agencies, and committees. But most importantly, I want to connect digital talent with work that they will find engaging and rewarding. With new talent on our teams, we will be better positioned to make a difference in the 2018 cycle and beyond.
Elizabeth is a creative political consultant who is also working to change the talent pipeline in progressive digital politics.