Organizations either hire government liaisons to handle lobbying or they contract with law and lobbying firms. Liaisons who work for one organization work on only those issues that affect that organization. Independent lobbyists work on a variety of different issues, taking on clients on a contractual basis. They may contract with large corporations, such as a pharmaceutical or communications company, as well as volunteer services to nonprofit organizations. Lobbying firms are located all across the country. Those executives in charge of government relations for trade associations and other organizations are generally based in Washington, D.C.
Lobbyist positions will not be listed in the classifieds. It takes years of experience and an impressive list of connections to find a government relations job in an organization. Professional lobbyists usually have backgrounds as lawyers, public relations executives, congressional aides, legislators, government officials, or professionals in business and industry. Once established in a government or law career, lobbyists begin to hear about corporations, nonprofit organizations, and associations that need knowledgeable people for their government relations departments. The ASAE & Center for Association Leadership's Web site, https://www.asaecenter.org, lists available positions for executives with trade associations.
Lobbyists focus on developing long-standing relationships with legislators and clients and becoming experts on policy-making and legislation. Association or company executives may advance from a position as director of government relations into a position as president or vice-president. Lobbyists who contract their services to various clients advance by taking on more clients and working for larger corporations.
Tips for Entry
Work on a grassroots campaign as a canvasser, field organizer, or volunteer to gain experience and make valuable contacts.
Work as a Congressional staffer to obtain experience in government relations.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.