Aspiring Capitol Hill staffers may increase their odds of employment by doing their homework and following some of these suggestions, according to Kerry Dumbaugh, coauthor with Gary Serota of Capitol Jobs: An Insider's Guide to Finding a Job in Congress:
* Get a list of the members-elect. Two sources: the Democratic Study Group (Room 1422, Longworth House Office Building) and the Nov. 10 issue of National Journal.
* Eliminate those whose party, ideology and interests are not compatible with yours. Biographies of members-elect appear in the late-October election edition of Congressional Quarterly.
* Be realistic. New members are routinely advised not to hire all their staff at once and generally reserve their top posts for campaign loyalists or Hill veterans. However, new members' offices often experience massive staff turnover within 90 days of the time Congress convenes (Jan. 3), as the disillusioned return home.
* Prepare your re'sume' (one page only) in "Hillspeak." If you worked in an employment office, for example, Dumbaugh says that can be called "constituent services."
* Circulate personally with your cover letter. Administrative assistants do most of the hiring. Follow up your application with a call.
* Find out who you know. If no Hill contacts come to mind, search for some among a member's campaign contributors (listed by the Federal Election Commission). Is there someone you went to school with? Someone who knows your Aunt Nellie? See if you can get a personal letter of introduction: something, says Dumbaugh, "to separate you from the 4,000 other people submitting re'sume's."
* Arrange an "informational interview" with your congressman or -woman. The busiest member has time for a constituent. Ask for suggestions.
* Check in with the key Hill job placement networks and hotlines:
The House Placement Office, Room B-26 of the Cannon House Office Building, and the Senate Placement Office, Room B-26 of the Russell Senate Office Building.
The Democratic Study Group: periodic job bulletin.
The Republican Study Committee, Room 433 of the Cannon House Office Building: job bank with listings of staff openings for Conservative Republican members.
The New Member Service Center, in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building: temporary office space and message center for the 45 new members.
A new Capitol Jobs Placement Service, begun this year by the nonprofit Congressional Management Foundation: for a $35 fee, will attempt to match applicants and openings. CMF executive director Gary Serota says the service will concentrate on high-level jobs, where news of openings is most guarded. Located at 1022 Eye St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20006. (202) 546-0100.
Hill job descriptions and salaries are included in Capitol Jobs and in Setting Course: A Congressional Management Guide (American University, 1984), available free to members, $10 for others: Congressional Management Project, American University, Cassell 201P, Washington, D.C. 20016. (202) 885-6441.