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How long should I work for an MP?

For most of us, working for an MP is not a ‘forever job.’

The skills, contacts and knowledge we acquire working for an MP helps us to out-grow the role quickly – opening up new opportunities more quickly than perhaps in other roles. Think about it: There are very few roles where someone who is often young and with limited experience can be meet with CEOs and senior Government officials to talk about issues which can affect millions.

Analysis by Westminster Professionals shows around an averaged 25%-30% annual turnover of staff in MPs’ offices, with an average tenure of between 18 months and 2 ½ years.

But how long should you work for an MP and when should you start to think about your next career move?

Warning signs you’re over working for an MP

Loss of excitement – Everyone’s experience is different, but the golden rule should be: when you stop getting the rush of walking into the Parliamentary Estate or the buzz of successfully helping a constituent – get out!

Procrastination – In politics there are always plenty of distractions, but if you’re spending more time on Facebook or having coffee and gossiping downstairs at Portcullis House, than you are on driving a campaign or doing casework, it’s a clear sign you work isn’t engaging you enough to keep you at your desk.

You whinge about the job – Gripes are common in all workplaces, but red lights are flashing if your time at the Woolsack or with the family when you get home consists of constantly slagging off your office, your MP or the constituents. These jobs are tough and take a toll – when you feel it getting to you – it’s time to move on to other surroundings.

You’re not learning anything new – Parliament runs on a cycle – Parliament sessions, Budget cycles, recess dates – when you’ve seen it all before and just going through the same old motions you’ve stopped learning and challenging yourself. For someone in the early to middle stage of their career – this can be a career blocker and can impact you in the long-term.

How do others view your tenure at Westminster? 

Recruiters generally view you with suspicion if you’re at a job less than 18 months, with somewhere around 3 years being seen as ideal. However, working in Westminster, recruiters are much more understanding of tenure of between 12 and 18 months.

As communication professionals we are usually good at messaging – so before applying consider your career moves and message appropriately (and diplomatically) on why you’re ready to make the move beyond the Parliamentary estate.

Westminster Professionals is here to improve the experience and performance of MPs staff in Westminster. We are a new organisation supported by staff from across the political spectrum. We offer training, networking & events, and support.

Westminster Professionals will be running a full set of networking and career events throughout 2019, helping you to engage with staffers and former staffers who are now in public affairs, the civil service, NGOs, think tanks and the corporate sector. For further details join Westminster Professionals here and keep up to date with all our events.

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