By Chris Micheli and Ray LeBov
In our experience working both as in-house and as contract lobbyists, we offer a series of best practice suggestions to use when hiring either type of lobbyist for your organization. There are numerous items to think about whether you are hiring an employee or a contract. We attempt to highlight some of the key issues for you to think about when making these hiring decisions.
Regardless of the type of individual your organization hires, internally or externally, the fundamental questions to ask yourself are: What do I and my organization need? What does your lobbying effort need?
Remember, too, that these individuals, regardless of employee or contractor status, will be a public face for your company, association, industry, etc. So, choose wisely! Here are some of the key issues for you to think about when making lobbyist hiring decisions:
In-house Employee Lobbyist
While hiring a contract lobbyist can address short-term needs, hiring for an in-house position should have a long-term view. Do you bring a newly-minted individual or an experienced individual into your organization?
Do you need to diversify your workforce, which may require considerations of:
- Party affiliation
- Ethnic background
- Technical expertise
- Relationship) with particular elected or appointed official(s)
Internal hiring may allow you to develop an individual who will meet the future needs of your organization. In such a case, be clear regarding mentoring and training that you will be able to provide. It is also important to involve the person(s) who the prospective hire will be reporting to during the course of the recruitment process.
In determining which lobbyist(s) to use, pose at least these questions:
- What policy expertise do they have?
- Which political connections do they maintain?
- Does their skill set match what is needed?
- Do they have the personality required to deal successfully with decision-makers, allies, opponents, and your team?
- How are they viewed by their peers?
- How are they viewed by those officials and staff that they will advocate before?
- What track record do they have?
- Do they have any conflicts of interest that cannot be easily resolved?
There are obviously other questions that can be posed during the screening process, but these are the key questions that you need to have answers to prior to making a hiring decision.
Ray LeBov began working in Sacramento in 1975, when he was appointed as counsel to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Structure of the Judiciary. He served in various other legislative staff positions until 1991. Since 2006, Ray LeBov & Associates’ Capitol Seminars division has presented its Lobbying 101 and 201 seminars throughout the year in Sacramento and other locations, enabling some 2000 governmental advocacy and public affairs professionals.
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