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Career Advice from the Trump Campaign Trail

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GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Billings, Mont., May 26. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Billings, Mont., May 26. AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

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Ask my 5-year old who he’s voting for in the 2016 election and his answer is decisive: “Donald Trumpet.” Despite his young age and limited screen time, he knows the name (almost) and can spot that trademark comb over instantly. Love him or hate him, you can’t argue Donald Trump has built a brand that demands to be noticed. He’s also manipulated the media circus in a way perhaps no other candidate has (this article itself is evidence of that).

If you’re job searching in these crazy political times, it’s worth noting we can all learn a lot from the campaign trail rhetoric. An aggressive job seeker is out to win just like political candidate. And while you might not need to win votes, you do need to win over a specific electorate (recruiters and hiring managers) to get a job. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from watching Mr. Trump(et) over the past few months.

You Need a Catchphrase

Everyone loves to make fun of ‘Trump speak,’ but regardless of the flaws in grammar, the man knows how to get quoted. A key strength of The Donald: repetition. Trump mobilizes his base by repeating his key policy positions. You can’t help but know about Trump’s stances on immigration and trade. He repeats them at almost every rally. Career professionals should have their own catch phrases and elevator pitches. As you job search, you should build a resume for a specific position, but also consider the career qualities you’re looking for. Are benefits important? Work-life balance? How do you expect to be managed? These questions play a critical role in your career happiness. Be able to articulate your preferences to hiring managers and repeat them as necessary.

Go Big or Go Home

There’s a reason Trump garnered the most support from veterans in a recent survey (with those feeling the Bern second): Trump has a “balls to the wall” approach that service members can appreciate. At the beginning of the election cycle a number of candidates almost seemed to take a lukewarm stance toward actually wanting the presidency. You’ve probably already forgotten the names of a few of the Democratic and Republican candidates (and yes, there were other Democratic candidates). From the beginning, it seemed clear Trump was going all in.

If you’re searching for a job, you need a similar philosophy. I come across too many candidates taking a lukewarm approach to the job search. They’re searching for jobs, maybe applying for a few, but mostly hoping the perfect thing falls in their lap. Even in a job seeker’s market, you need to be a bit aggressive if you want to be noticed. Complete your profile and connect with recruiters—show you’re in it to win it, and you’ll be better positioned to land a great job.

Activate Your Network

And use it strategically. Trump’s kids often come across as more likable than he is. He leverages that by having them stand up with him at campaign events and speak in targeted settings. His wife does the same.  If you’re a job seeker and you haven’t activated your network you’re at a serious disadvantage. Your network can build you up. It should include former employers and coworkers and recruiters. Get them networking on your behalf. You can’t be aware of every opportunity. But when your network knows your career aspirations, they can be on the lookout for you and help you get that amazing opportunity you may not have heard of.

Master Your Signature Look

Trump’s general look hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years. That’s significant. When most politicians are going more casual, Trump is still rocking a suit and tie. You can say the same of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits. And even Bernie Sanders seems to present the same degree of endearing disheveled at each appearance. As a job seeker or career professional, it’s generally good advice that your clothes not distract. You want everyone to be impressed by your skills and personality, not your attire. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about how you look, it means you consider it carefully.

Having attended a number of career events I’ve noticed some professionals carry a signature look at every event. And I admit it makes them easier to spot. This doesn’t mean you need to embrace the capsule wardrobe right away, but it’s worth thinking about how you can streamline your work attire so it doesn’t distract while being distinctly yours. Unless you’re in a creative profession, generally less is more when it comes to wardrobe. And think about how much time you’ll save getting ready in the morning. This advice applies whether you’re actively searching for jobs or already employed. Don’t let pajamas become your regular wardrobe, and dress to impress even if your most important meeting is sitting at Panera.

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com and a former Defense Department employee.

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