- Who is eligible to apply to the Initiative?
We welcome resumes from any African-American U.S. citizen who seeks an appointment in the executive or legislative branch of the U.S. government. We welcome professionals with a wide range of backgrounds and interests, ranging from junior, mid-level, and senior professionals. Women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBT, and individuals with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
What should I prepare before starting the application?
- The most important thing you need to begin the application is your resume in Microsoft Word (.doc) format. If you are ready to submit your resume and are unsure about letters of recommendation or which agencies are a good fit, we encourage you to submit your resume as soon as possible so that, as positions become available, we can reach out to you if your experience is a good fit. Please review our resume tips below.
- Letters of recommendation can be helpful to submit directly to the Black Talent Initiative – especially those that demonstrate political experience. They can help us start conversations about your candidacy with the administration. If you don’t have letters of recommendation but are ready to submit your resume, send us your letters by email when you have them.
- Having a clear idea of which agency or agencies at which you would most like to work can be helpful. Generally, we find that substantial political or private sector experience with a particular federal agency, state agency, or a relevant issue area, especially in your most recent work history, is the best indicator of fit for a particular agency. Certain functional roles require less issue experience than others – for example, communications/press/marketing, financial operations, scheduler/assistant roles may not require issue-or agency-specific expertise (however, issue expertise is likely a plus, so please include if relevant).
Please also ensure that enough time is set aside to complete the application in one sitting. You will be asked to answer questions about your party affiliation, political activism in 2016, citizenship status, gender, ethnicity, areas of expertise, and level of experience.
- Upload your resume as a Microsoft Word (.doc), Rich Text Format (.rtf), or PDF file and answer the required questions.
- You can update your resume at any time by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- List your professional experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent.
- Provide bullet lists for each experience that highlight specific skills, inputs and outcomes with quantifiable metrics.
- If applicable, include the size of your budget and the number of staff for which you were directly responsible for managing.
- If applicable, be sure to include public service at the local, state, or federal level as well as volunteer service with non-profits.
- Where possible, include information about involvement with African-American organizations – this can be accomplished under a header such as “Other Experience” or “Community Involvement and Affiliations” toward the end of your resume.
- Do not include references or salary information, and do not include a “References available upon request” statement. Generally, purpose or objective statements should not be included.
- Junior and mid-level professionals should strive to condense their resumes to one page. Where resumes and curriculum vita consist of more than one page, ensure that the page footer includes your name and page number.
- Keep formatting as simple as possible and focus on content over style. Avoid unusual fonts or formatting. Use tabs rather than spaces to left/center/right-align content on the same line (see: Set margins, indents, and tabs at microsoft.com).
- The Initiative will contact you if it identifies any changes that should be made.
- What kinds of positions are available?
Members of Congress appoint thousands of staff for the majority and minority leadership offices, personal offices, and committee offices (e.g., Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, Legislative Assistant, Counsel, Committee Staff Director, Communications Director, Press Secretary). We work with Members of Congress to find top candidates for these positions.
The president appoints more than five thousand executive branch employees across federal agencies, boards, and commissions.
- For full-time appointments, the levels of employment range from entry-level positions to senior executives, agency secretaries, and ambassadors that require confirmation by the U.S. Senate. For a complete list of appointed positions in the Executive Branch as of 2012, see “United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions,” commonly known as the Plum Book.
- Volunteer boards and commissions are generally appointed by the president or the secretary of an agency. Some of these positions require significant time investments and may be compensated. Travel is typically arranged and paid for by the government. Agency-appointed boards and commissions are often announced in the Federal Register, as well as the Federal Advisory Committee Act database.
- Grant review bodies are generally appointed by the agency and may require travel, which is arranged and paid for by the government.
- Who will review applicants and how?
With the assistance of our coalition partners, the Black Talent Initiative staff collects, organizes and categorizes all resumes it receives and meets with staff from the administration to review and recommend applicants qualified for available positions.
- When will applicants know whether or not they are being recommended to an administration or a congressional office?
The Initiative will make its best effort to contact applicants before recommending them for a particular position. Due to the sheer volume of applicants and the urgency of some appointments, this is not always possible.
- When will applicants know whether or not they are being considered for appointment by an administration or a congressional office?
Any applicant under consideration for employment will be contacted directly by the administration or the congressional office or, at times, by the Black Talent Initiative. Please make an effort to inform the Black Talent Initiative if an administration official or congressional office has been in contact with you. Depending on the situation, we may be able to provide additional counsel and support.
- Does submitting a resume to the Initiative boost an individual’s chances of getting hired by the administration?
The Black Talent Initiative has no official role with respect to hiring any personnel. Participation does not mean that the Black Talent Initiative will recommend anyone for any position or that applicants will in any way be advantaged in the appointment or nomination process for any such position. The Initiative may choose to share information submitted by applicants with the administration.
- Should I apply directly to the administration or congressional office?
In addition to applying to the Initiative, applicants should apply directly to the administration or congressional office. If you feel you do not have a strong understanding of the appointments process or a clear direction for the type of position you would be interested in, you are encouraged to apply to the Initiative for guidance prior to applying.
- What can I expect for the executive branch vetting process?
Most applicants under serious consideration for an appointment with the Administration will go through a full FBI background check in which their employment, professional, personal, travel, medical, financial, legal, military and educational histories will be reviewed and scrutinized. The financial holdings and sources of income for most applicants under serious consideration must be disclosed for review to ascertain if there are any possible conflicts of interest. After an appointment is made, there may be public scrutiny, especially for senior-level appointments. For a helpful roadmap, see the National Academy of Public Administration’s Presidential Appointee Roadmap.
- Special Thanks.
We appreciate the support of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute and the Latino Victory Project for providing many of the insights above and for other support in establishing the Black Talent Initiative. We encourage Black LGBT and Afro-Latino prospective appointees to visit those sites and use them as resources.