Looking for a job working for an MP? Quick tips

A Working for an MP Guide
Looking for a job working for an MP? (or in a politics-related setting)
First Published (date) (author)
Last Updated 25 September 2013 w4mp
Last Reviewed 11 December 2012 w4mp
Other useful job search websites list expanded again: 31 July 2013

 

  • Introduction
  • Getting an Internship
  • 2010 W4MP/Dods booklet for new staff
  • CVs and Covering Letters
  • Contact Points for the Parties
  • Publications
  • Other useful job search websites (latest update 25 September 2013)

 

Introduction

If you are looking at this page, chances are you have already decided that you want to work for an MP. This guide is aimed at making the process more understandable and to help you increase your chances of getting a job in an MP’s office.

The first thing to realise about MPs is that they tend not to have the time to train a member of staff up to being able to do the job. MPs prefer to employ people who already know something about how their offices are run and what is required of their staff. Therefore, whilst some people do gain employment in an MP’s office without any political work experience, it is very rare and usually only happens where there is a personal connection to the MP.

It is worth noting that some  jobs get filled by word of mouth without ever being advertised, often because someone already working for an MP moves on to another job at Westminster.

The following information should help you to establish what you need to do prior to sending an application to an MP.

The first thing you need to think about is that working for an MP is party political. MPs do receive applications from people who have either worked for an MP of a different party, or who say ‘I’m not party political, but…’ – in short, this is not going to get you a job in Parliament. Whilst party membership is not a pre-requisite, you should know which party you support and therefore only target MPs of that party. Bear in mind that once you have worked for an MP of a particular party, it will be very difficult to work for an MP of another party.

The next consideration is whether you want to work in the constituency office or Parliament. MPs typically employ Secretaries and Caseworkers in the constituency office and Parliamentary Assistants/Secretaries and Parliamentary Research Assistants in Parliament. The jobs are quite different and command different salaries. Our page on the parliamentary salary scales is updated every April.

Caseworkers typically help constituents with localised issues such as housing, immigration, benefits and social services.

Parliamentary Assistants/Secretaries typically run the Westminster office, taking care of everything from running the diary, writing letters to managing staff. Parliamentary Research Assistants typically respond to political letters from constituents, write speeches, and research and write/orally present briefings. In addition, many researchers coordinate All Party Groups. The roles vary from MP to MP which is why it is difficult to be more specific about the duties of each different role.

Once you have decided where you want to work, and in what capacity, you need to think about how your CV will stand out from the hundreds of applications an MP will receive in response to a job advert.

In general, most research positions require you to have a degree. The classification of your degree is not hugely important. In some respects your education is taken as a given and what really counts is what political work experience you have. More specifically, the key issue is whether you have ever worked, in a voluntary or paid capacity, for an MP.

The most successful applicants will have a few months of work experience for an MP. This may be in the form of voluntary work in the constituency office, for the local party, helping during an election campaign, or in Parliament. This may seem prohibitive to people who cannot afford to work for free, or for small amounts of remuneration, but it is the reality of gaining work for an MP.

If you are coming from outside the UK, look at our page on: Foreign nationals working for MPs

If you haven’t found the W4MP jobs page yet, it’s at: W4MPjobs

Getting an Internship

Prior to approaching an MP for work experience, you should be clear of how much time you can offer per week. Be realistic – it does not look good to commit yourself to, for example, 3 days, and then find you can only do 1 day per week. You should also think about whether you are offering to work for free, or if you need some remuneration. MPs have limited staffing allowances and usually cannot afford to pay voluntary staff. However, keep an eye on the adverts for interns on W4MP as some are beginning to offer money; click here for our Jobs page. (needs updating)

Once you have clarified what you can offer an MP, start writing to the MPs you are interested in working for. It is worth contacting your local MP first, unless they are not of the party you support. They will be more inclined to offer you a position if you have a real link with their constituency.

If you are not sure which MPs you might want to work for, do some research on individual MPs at this website:  http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/.

Internships are regularly posted on W4MP so keep an eye on our Jobs page too. (needs updating)

2010 W4MP/Dods booklet for new staff

Have a look at the online version of the 98-page booklet we prepared for new staff following the May 2010 General Election. It will give you a very good idea of the scope of the work which Members’ Staff undertake both at Westminster and in constituency offices.  It’s here: Guide to Working for an MP

CVs & Covering Letters

Remember to keep your CV succinct and on no more than 2 pages. Emphasise points such as being involved with your Student Union, writing for the student newspaper and any debating societies. You will stand more of a chance of getting a job with an MP if you can provide a narrative of how you got to the point of wanting to work for an MP.

It may seem obvious, but if you are using the same letter to write to a number of MPs, make sure the MP you address it to is the same MP you write to in the greeting of the letter. In the concluding paragraph of your covering letter, try to give three reasons for why you want to work for the MP you are applying to – not generic points on why you want to work for an MP.

If you have worked for an MP in any capacity, make sure you put that early on in your CV and covering letter. It will focus the MP’s concentration on your application.

UPDATE 26 February 2008: click here to see our thorough new guide on ‘Creating a Winning CV and Cover Letter’

Contact Points for the Parties

Labour Party - Write, including a CV, to the Parliamentary Labour Party Secretary, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. The PLP keeps a file of all applicants that MPs can look through when they are recruiting. Also try the Labour Party jobs page: http://www.labour.org.uk/jobs

Conservative Party. Telephone Conservative Central Office on 020 7222 9000.  Also try the Conservative Party jobs page: http://www.conservatives.com/Get_involved/Jobs.aspx

Liberal Democrats. Write to the Liberal Democrat Whip’s Office, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Also try the Liberal Democrats jobs page: http://www.libdems.org.uk/jobs.aspx

Publications

Some of the weeklies and dailies advertise jobs in parliament e.g. the Guardian, Spectator etc. However, the majority of MPs know of W4MP and use it as it is free and widely viewed by prospective candidates. Most researchers in parliament gained their jobs through this site.

 

Other useful job search websites (in alphabetical order). Updated 25 September 2013.
Some of these websites get out of date from time to time.

Adecco
http://www.adecco.co.uk/Pages/Default.aspx
The Victoria branch offers temporary, permanent and contract positions in various government departments.

Adzuna – Politics
http://jobs.adzuna.co.uk/politics
“Adzuna is the ‘google for jobs’, searching hundreds of different job sites and bringing together all the local vacancies into a single, easy-to-use search engine.”

Capita RAS Public Sector Resourcing
http://www.capitaresourcing.co.uk/sectors
“From telecoms to engineering, retail to finance, and government to travel, our expertise crosses all industries and job functions. Depending on your experience, qualifications and ambitions, there’s bound to be something that fits the bill.”

Careerjet
http://www.careerjet.co.uk
“Gives the job seeker access to a massive selection of jobs compiled from various internet sources, saving the trouble of having to visit each site individually.” Jobs in Brussels: www.careerjet.co.uk/search/jobs?l=brussels

CharityJOB
http://www.charityjob.co.uk/
“CharityJOB is the UK’s busiest site for charity jobs, with over 1200 live vacancies, and 5 Million page impressions per month.”

Civil Service Jobs portal
https://jobsstatic.civilservice.gov.uk/csjobs.html/
“This site will give you an overview of what we do and the vast career opportunities that are open to you. Have a look around. We’re confident you’ll like what you see.”

Civil Service Fast Stream Development Programme
http://www.faststream.gov.uk/
“The Fast Stream is a graduate entry route for senior Civil Service careers. This site is designed to give you an overview of the Civil Service and what life might be like if you decided to pursue a career with us.”

Electus Group
http://www.electus-group.com/
“Whether you are looking to recruit or looking for your next career move, Electus is the natural recruitment partner for Public Affairs, Policy, Public Relations and Corporate Communications professionals.”

Electus Start
http://www.electus-start.com/
“Electus Start is a division of Dod’s Parliamentary Communications. We have in depth knowledge and experience of the politics and public affairs arena, which means we have access to lots of exciting job opportunities and expert advice.”

Ellwood and Atfield
http://www.ellwoodandatfield.com/
“Ellwood and Atfield is the market leading search and selection specialist for communications with a political and regulatory context.”

EuJobsite
http://www.eu-jobsite.com
Our website is aimed at helping jobseekers find the best public affairs positions in the EU, including within the member states.

EuroBrussels
http://www.eurobrussels.com/
Has a useful guide to finding a job in Brussels. Have a look, too, at the European Parliament’s Stagiaire Association website: http://www.epstage.eu/  

FCO Careers
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office/about/recruitment
“Whether you’re considering a career with us, looking for work experience from school, or a placement during your second undergraduate year, this is where you can get the answers you need.”

Graduate Talent Pool
http://graduatetalentpool.direct.gov.uk
Graduate Talent Pool is an online service, created by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to match recent graduates with employers looking for trainees. At the time of adding this link (mid-Feb 2011), it was advertising 1,123 paid vacancies.

How to get a Job
http://www.howtogetajob.org/
The site consists of valuable articles about How to get a job easily, fast, interview tips and so on.

Jobs-Brussels.com
http://www.jobs-brussels.com/
“We specialize in listing of jobs with law firms, ngos, lobbies and EU Institutions which are currently offering jobs in Brussels.”

JobiJoba UK
http://www.jobijoba.co.uk/politics-jobs
“JobiJoba UK is a comprehensive search engine for jobs. It crawls the web looking for job listings, and collects them all.They have a section (see above) specifically related to politics.

JobisJob
http://www.jobisjob.co.uk
“JobisJob.com includes all the job listings from major job boards and we continue to add new sites every day.”

Jobmanji
http://www.jobmanji.co.uk/politics-/job-vacancies/
“Our Job Engine covers all jobs sectors in the UK. The link above is a good source for candidates seeking work in politics.”

jobrapido
http://www.jobrapido.co.uk/?q=politics uk
Job search engine which allows jobseekers to search through all current UK politics jobs posted on all UK job sites.

Jobsgopublic
http://www.jobsgopublic.com/
“Jobsgopublic represents the extensive range of work environments within the public and not for profit sectors.”

Jobs Today
http://www.jobstoday.co.uk
“One of the largest job search engines in the UK. We provide jobs for all locations and industries.”

Jooble
http://www.jooble.org
Job search engine and in more than 27 countries, as well as in the UK. Politics jobs across the UK are at:
http://jooble.org.uk/search-vacancy-uk/kw-politics.

One World
http://uk.oneworld.net/section/uk/jobs
“OneWorld brings the latest jobs and volunteer positions from organisations working to create a better world.”

Parliament Job Opportunities
http://www.parliament.uk/about/working/
This site does not advertise for MPs; they advertise parliamentary jobs in the Commons, Lords and Cross-parliamentary.

People Unlimited
http://www.peopleunlimited.co.uk/
“People Unlimited have 20 years experience recruiting for all sectors across the public and not for profit sectors including Political, Think tanks, Local and National Government as well as Charity and the Green Sector.”

PRJobSeek
http://www.prjobseek.com/
An online recruitment facility for the Public Relations industry

Public Sector Jobs
http://www.publicsectorjobs.net/
“As part of the One Job Group, Public Sector Jobs offers site visitors a comprehensive selection of Public Sector, Civil Service and Local Government jobs throughout the UK.”

Recruit.net
http://uk.recruit.net
“Our site is popular and a very valuable resource for anyone looking for employment in the UK. Our tag line is ‘We help people find jobs’.”

Renego UK
http://jobs.renego.co.uk/vacancies/public+relations
Jobs.renego.co.uk is a complete job search and careers portal. You can find here the latest jobs and vacancies in the public relations, research and development sectors.

Shout Out Jobs
http:/www.jobs.shoutoutuk.org
“SO jobs, run by Shout Out UK, offers jobs, volunteering positions and courses all under one roof for students and professionals alike.”

Susan Hamilton Group
http://www.susanhamilton.co.uk/
The Parliamentary Division at the Strand supplies research and support staff to MPs, Peers and Public Affairs agencies.

Third Sector Jobs
http://jobs.thirdsector.co.uk/jobs/
“Third Sector Jobs has been designed to help you find the right charity jobs as easily and as quickly as possible – from voluntary jobs to fundraising jobs, charity jobs nationwide to charity jobs in London.”

yjobs
http://www.yjobs.co.uk/
We have developed a new website with job offers which are presented in an easy and quick way for people from the UK.

 

Message to other jobs websites:
All the jobs websites above have some connection with the world of politics.
We interpret this fairly broadly to include public relations, research, policy development etc.
We are happy to add new websites to this list if you have an area of your website which matches the above.
Use the Feedback form below to let us have a brief description of your service (not more than 35 words) and we will add you to the list. We imagine you will also wish to reciprocate in some way.  Let us know how!

ED August 2007

 

This is one of our most popular pages but the information can get out of date quite quickly so let us know, using the Feedback Form (needs updating) if there’s something which needs adding or updating.