Recruiting Former Staffers in the Post-Election Landscape
Fighting an election can be one of the greatest experiences in a staffer’s career but it can also be one of the toughest. The election battle can take a huge toll on staff over the 18 months leading up to polling day and can leave some looking for a slightly less cut-throat job, at least for a while.
The temptation to look elsewhere is even stronger thanks to the fact that every staffer, win or lose, is made eligible for a redundancy package when the previous Parliament is dissolved.
Regardless, there are always a lot of staff seeking change after an election.
Even in victory, there are always Government staffers considering whether or not to take ‘the package’ and seek employment elsewhere. And with their team on the winner’s podium, it can be a great time for advocacy groups, industry bodies and not-for-profits to pick up a quality policy or strategy adviser with strong connections to government.
It’s also a perfect time to look for a media manager who knows how the Canberra Press Gallery operates and has strong media relationships in place.
The need for a working knowledge of government departments is often underestimated as well. In most portfolios, the departments hold the key to navigating any given issue and a former staffer who understands the mindset of bureaucrats is worth their weight.
For many senior Opposition staff, this election will be the end of the line. Their team almost won in 2016 and they were sure they’d be able to form Government in 2019. For many, it’ll be time to pull up stumps.
For advocates this means a number of senior operators, particularly in the areas of strategy, media and communications, will be looking for something new. This is an invaluable opportunity to hire someone with years of experience dealing with bureaucrats and the Canberra Press Gallery. Forward-thinking organisations who take a bipartisan approach to policy development can also leverage their connections with the Opposition over the next 18 months, before the next election campaign kicks off.
Now is the right time to look to the ranks of departing Opposition staff for potential employees with a quality skill set and an invaluable working knowledge of government.
Where to look
A lot of people overlook one of the most direct ways of reaching out to staff - contacting the Party Headquarters. While some have better systems in place than others, the major parties tend to designate a particular staff member to gather expressions of interest from external sources, as well as from staff seeking new roles.
This should be the first port of call in your recruitment drive.
Obviously SEEK and other jobs services are useful in searching for staff, however another more direct route - if it’s within the recruitment budget - is to engage a recruitment company that specialises in political staff such as Temple Executive Search and similar groups. These executive search companies are often run by former staffers and know exactly the type of person you’ll need for the position you’re advertising.
Patience is key.
It takes time for the dust to settle for staffers on both sides after an election. Particularly after a result that’s subverted expectations and will have upended many plans, don’t panic if your position isn’t filled instantly.
Ultimately, a former staffer who has the right skill set and knows the ins-and-outs of the bureaucracy and government is an investment in your ongoing advocacy campaigning.