Interview Tips- Policy Analyst

There are tons of jobs out there where Bachelors of Arts majors stand a decent chance and training as a Policy Analyst can open those doors to you. Policy analysis teaches you to think critically, solve problems and communicate effectively.

Policy analyst's career path can be pretty diverse- some folks get into marketing/PR career, some get into consulting, some get into research and many people work in the public/non-profit sector or run for office.

If you pursue the job search process strategically, it really isn't that hard to become a Policy Analyst/Associate.  The following article will give you a few tips, which hopefully will make your job hunt experience more engaging and less stressful.

How to build a Resume?

  • Keep it simple and ideally ONE page long. Be concise & use bullet points. Remember nobody reads it, they SKIM it in <30 seconds.

  • Pay attention on presenting interesting stuff about yourself articulately. Example- awards, fellowships, scholarships, internships, volunteer experience should stand apart.

  • Use KEYWORDS relevant to policy analysis (example- Excel, Statistics, Policy memo writing, Regression) on your resume. Usually companies automate the process of resume selection by shortlisting the resumes based on keywords. 

  • This video is a good explanation of how recruiters skim over hundreds of resumes everyday.

Which positions to apply to and how?

  • Explore 'Policy Analyst' , ‘Program Analyst’, ‘Policy Affairs Analyst’, 'Budget/Economic Policy Analyst', 'Market Research Analyst' etc kind of positions on Glassdoor, USAjobs, LinkedIn, your school portal and Indeed. Keep in mind that some roles strictly need work ex. So assess suitability based on your work experience.

  • Make a list of around 40-50 jobs that interest you.

  • Make a list of the main skills/tools that most jobs need (keywords).

  • If you know/have some idea about those requirements, make sure to add those keywords to your resume.

  • Some jobs need a cover letter. Write a concise letter (use these cover letter tips from University fo Chicago) highlighting your achievements, skills and work ex.

How to increase the odds of getting an interview call?

Start early. Keep at least 2 months aside for your job search. The earlier the better.

Apply, apply, apply. The more you apply, the odds of getting at least an interview call increase. Apply to at least 50. Most job applications are fairly quick and easy. Based on our experience so far, Glassdoor applications are pretty effective- so don't miss those. It goes without saying - try government portals like USAJOBS.

Find friends/acquaintances to refer you. If you know someone in a company you want to work for, reach out to them and request a referral. Buy them lunch or something. If you don’t know anyone in the industry, then no worries- try going for Analyst meetups/events and try to network. Networking can be phony & exhausting, so find your rhythm, focus on quality networking over quantity and be patient. Also give a shot to business analyst or data analyst networking sessions around you.

Don't EVER feel dejected. This Princeton Professor's resume might give you some motivation 😎 

If selected for an interview, how to prepare for it?

  • Know your resume inside, out. Make sure you can defend your work experience/projects in detail. If you have exaggerated about anything, practice how to defend it. If an exaggeration can be defended it's not an exaggeration after all (don't go overboard though).😉

  • Research about the organization, get a sense of their culture so that you can explain why you want to work for them.

  • If you know who your interviewer is, look them up online. Be informed. It helps to know common interests, affiliations etc to have a more interesting conversation.

  • Steer the interview and stay calm. Talk about projects you are most confident about and ask logical questions to steer the conversation.

  • Listen. Be patient and don't rush to answer.

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