From the Hill Back Home: Opportunities in the States and Transitioning Back Home

Are you currently on Capitol Hill but considering leaving the Beltway and returning to your home state? Are you interested in continuing to work for the principles you believe in but aren’t sure what the options look like in the states? And are you especially interested in learning about opportunities with state-based think tanks and other policy-oriented organizations that advance free-market ideals?

If you answered yes to these questions, read on! Here are five things you can do now to prepare yourself for a career transition.

1. Prep work

  • Figure out (roughly) what you want to do. Before you can make a career transition, you’ll want to come up with a rough idea of what you want to do next. You don’t have to carve in stone every detail of your next job, but having a general sense for the types of roles that appeal to you will be critical. Aren’t sure on that yet? Keep reading!
  • Update your resume. The process of updating your resume is not only necessary, but it will also provide you context about the things you have enjoyed most in your career (as well as the things you want to avoid like the plague!).
  • Determine your salary needs. Chances are that the cost of living in your next location will be lower than Washington, DC. Not surprisingly, you will probably find that the salaries there are also a bit lower. In order to avoid pricing yourself out of the market, use an online salary calculator to determine the equivalent compensation in your destination city. Remember: though you may end up taking a numerical step down in terms of salary, you will likely be giving yourself an effective pay raise because DC salaries never fully account for the insane cost of living!
  • Evaluate your network and update your social media presence. Start making a mental list of all of your contacts either in your home state or with ties to it. Make sure to update your LinkedIn profile and connect with the contacts you already have, as this will provide you with a fantastic networking platform when you’re ready to start your job search.

2. Become familiar with state options

Options to advance liberty in the free-market universe outside the Beltway are prolific! State-based think tanks, litigation centers, national policy organizations with headquarters outside of DC, and groups that hire virtually (no matter where they are located!) are all possibilities.  Visit State Policy Network’s interactive directory to explore options: https://spn.org/directory/.

3. Consider how your skills translate for job options in the states

This is probably the most difficult step in the process, as you may not be aware of what job options exist in the states! Let’s reverse engineer the question and first consider the greatest talent needs in the free-market universe (this according to the searches Talent Market has worked on over the last 8 years): fundraising, communications/media relations, executive leadership, policy/research, and legal.

  • Legislative experience on the Hill translates well for policy/research positions, as well as fundraising positions (because all of our clients want a fundraiser who can talk to donors about policy and the ideas behind it!).
  • Communications experience on the Hill can easily transfer to communications and media relations openings, and can also be a good segue into fundraising or even policy positions (since our clients love fundraisers and policy analysts who can communicate persuasively!).
  • Legal/counsel experience on the Hill naturally translates into legal openings, as well as policy/research positions.
  • Management experience on the Hill translates widely — from management roles to policy, fundraising, or communications, depending on your roots.

4. Think before you get a graduate degree

People in the midst of a career change may consider more schooling to help make the transition. However, graduate degrees are very expensive and often end up sitting on the shelf and collecting dust (she says, speaking from experience). Before you run off and apply to graduate school, ask people in your desired career field whether an advanced degree is necessary. Had I been smart enough to do that, I would have saved thousands of dollars and avoided hanging out with socialists at Georgetown for a couple of years!

5. Reach out to Talent Market!

If you are interested in a career in the free-market nonprofit sector, please connect with us so that we can keep you on our radar for job opportunities! You can send us your information via this form: http://talentmarket.org/candidates/sendyourresume/. Looking forward to hearing from you!


Claire Kittle Dixon is the Executive Director of Talent Market

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