What to Do When You Think Your Boss Is Going to Lose the General Election

House staffers have until Jan. 2, Senate staffers until March 2

Congressional staff stand along the aisle during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Congressional staff stand along the aisle during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted September 26, 2016 at 5:00am

The polling numbers aren’t looking good. Your boss has been consistently listed as vulnerable. Do you send out your resume?

Well, there are different routes you can take.

If you’re a Senate staffer worried about your boss losing in November, you’re in a slightly better position than your counterparts on the House side. In the event of a loss, House staffers’ paychecks will cut off on Jan. 2, 2017 — the same date as if your boss lost in a primary. But, Senate staffer paychecks run until March 2, 2017.

[Your Boss Lost the Primary, Now What?]

The big question: When do you start looking?

If you have faith in the campaign, you’re probably in your boss’ district, trying to get him or her re-elected. In either case, you have skin in the game and hardly any time to actually be sending out resumes or interviewing.

[Word on the Hill: Staffers Share Resumes]

“Our entire office was so focused on working hard to try to beat the odds, and taking time off for the election, that no one really had the time to job-hunt,” said an anonymous Democratic staffer on Cloakroom whose boss was consistently ranked among the most vulnerable incumbents last cycle.

“It can be very challenging because you don’t want to appear like the first person to give up hope,” the staffer said.

The lawmaker ended up losing and the staffer didn’t get another job until the next May.

[Roll Call’s 2016 Election Guide: Senate]

If you’ve lost faith in your boss’ re-election prospects, lining up another job will require recommendations and time for interviews. Much of that will depend on whether you have a supportive manager or not.

“The party took care of our chief and some low level staffers who were easy to move, but legislative staff got shafted and had a hard time finding jobs,” the anonymous Democratic staffer said.

“They always take care of the chief who helped lose the seat,” another anonymous Cloakroom user said.

[Roll Call’s 2016 Election Guide: House]

As of now, both chambers are in session the week after the election, and from the last week of November through Dec. 16.

That means House staffers have four weeks when everyone is in town to network, job hunt and interview until their paychecks stop. Senate staffers have those four weeks and then two additional months to look before they lose their income.

[The 10 Most Vulnerable House Members]

Watch The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call race rating changes and good luck transitioning into the 115th Congress.