recruiters are sneering at my work on a political campaign

A reader writes:

I recently worked on the presidential campaign and, needless to say, it was for the loser. My position was a higher-level executive administrator where I traveled full time with the candidate. Post-election, I have been looking for work as an executive assistant and I come across a lot of resentment for my prior work. It has ranged from recruiters asking me how I could possibly work for someone like the candidate, asking how they could “spin” the position so “I didn’t look that bad,” and asking questions like, “are you going to be able to work with people who have opposing political views?” and the condescending, “you should probably look for work in a different state, based on your political beliefs.” (I’m in northern California.)

Should this be an issue?

I thought the opportunity of a lifetime to see the insides of a national high-level campaign and work hard within my strengths would be a positive addition to my resume, not a determent. How do I field these questions and come out shining?

No, it shouldn’t be an issue. These people are being ridiculous.

Obviously, if you’re applying for positions with organizations that work on issues counter to those that you represented in your last job, it might give people pause. (Although even then, they should take the time to ask you about it, not be jerks.)

But assuming you’re applying to non-political organizations, some of these questions are obnoxious and unprofessional … and I say that as someone who voted against your candidate. I also say some of the questions, not all, because asking, “How do you feel about working with people with very different political views than your own?” isn’t a crazy question to ask if you’re going to be in a culture that they might reasonably assume you could be unhappy in. But suggesting you move to a different state is ridiculous.

In any case, you can try answers like, “I’ve never had any trouble getting along with people all over the political spectrum. My last job taught me X, Y, and Z, and I’m excited for the chance to use those skills in a non-political context.”

If that doesn’t work, then consider it a flag that you’re dealing with a small mind that doesn’t understand what does and doesn’t matter in hiring well.

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