Biden appointees are looking for new jobs – and the market is hot

While this varies wildly by industry and subject of expertise, he says someone looking to maximize earned income (i.e., typically, a job in law or lobbying, since companies tend to give a lot of compensation via stock) would “definitely be looking for the highest six figures, the lowest seven figures for the most relevant senior officials.

This is quite a change from the situation a few years ago, when several Trump administration cabinet secretaries and other bigwigs struggled to land high-end post-government jobs and activists spoke of organizing to make other administration insiders unemployable. At the time, at least some people wondered if America’s political warfare was ending the bipartisan tradition of learning from experience in government.

It turns out that once you remove the headlines about racism, the keystone glasses from the cops, and the constant public outrage, the revolving door will still turn just fine, thank you. Reasons for the bounce range from the prosaic (many Biden appointees had long resumes in Washington before they even signed) to the historical (they don’t have to answer for things like an insurrection, which have a way of disabling PR – aware employers).

But Biden veterans pondering a chance in the corporate job market can also attribute their good fortune to some of the things the administration has done that may have unsettled potential employers in the for-profit world: The pressures Regulatory around things like antitrust or green technology can create confusing new rules. Who better to help companies overcome opportunities and pitfalls than those who invented the rules in the first place?

DC headhunters jokingly refer to this period of an administration as “government draft season” – the period when a team has been in place long enough for appointees to gain meaningful credentials, but not that long. that the potential departures could be accused of abandoning the cause as he prepares for re-election. Like NCAA stars preparing to turn pro, they’re beginning to assemble their bureaucratic sizzle reels just as employers begin fantasizing about which new star could take them to the next level.

Curious to know the status of this strange and venerable dance of the Beltway, I decided to call Carr, one of the most beloved Jerry Maguires of the government draft season – a 47-year veteran of the industry Washington craft that connects private sector businesses to people who ‘I pull paychecks from Uncle Sam.

Over the years, Carr has worked with cabinet secretaries and senior professionals across government – and, naturally, with law firms, corporate human resources operations and management committees. looking for boards of directors who could hire them. (Companies, not candidates, usually pay headhunters, which is one reason people in the industry tend to be hesitant when it comes to dropping specific names.)

Business, Carr says, is good.

“People coming out of this administration and out of the Hill are desirable again,” Carr says. Many of them had better resumes in the first place, and the administration’s success in passing major legislation added some luster. “There are quality people, and they will come back to the private sector now.

This might be a departure from the last group, but it’s not particularly new – companies are looking to build bipartisan teams, hedge against the future and navigate tricky agencies. What changes from time to time is simply what kinds of government expertise are most in demand. People with Treasury or SEC experience are perpetually in demand. Given the headlines of the past few years, it’s no surprise that healthcare experts are also in demand.

And then there are areas that have been the subject of specific actions within the administration, such as antitrust or green technologies. “Areas like transportation come back to a level of importance — not overriding, but looking at airline issues, for example, someone coming out of the FAA or the Department of Transportation will have options,” Carr tells me. “The same in areas such as the environment. This goes back to the administration’s regulatory aggressiveness in areas such as the environment and natural resources.

“A current example is that regulating international trade is high on the administration’s list. Think of things like export controls and anti-boycott,” newly brought to the fore due to the sweeping sanctions on Russia. “So if you’re an international company or looking to work globally, especially in technology, you now have all kinds of export control issues. Areas that were relevant before Ukraine are now in the foreground.

It’s not just the bureaucratic equivalent of bulldog prosecutors dragging a shingle and taking on gangsters as clients. “It’s also to find out where the money is,” Carr says. “So the infrastructure bill was passed. The money for it is starting to flow. How do you exploit this? »

Washington, of course, has changed a lot since Carr entered the game in the 1970s — a much wealthier city, with a much more baroque industry of consultants and pundits. Carr says the size of a raise a senior civil servant can expect upon leaving government has increased significantly over the years. But he says it’s less a function of government veterans being in greater demand (they’ve always been sought after) than a function of wage inflation at the top of corporate America. Bigwigs with no government experience who are hired by businesses or law firms in Dallas or Chicago are also paid far more than their counterparts in the 1970s or 1980s.

If the resilience of the fed-to-corporate pipeline is a good sign for the capital’s struggling economy, what about the country? Just when you feel relieved to have a government full of people someone wants to hire, you remember that the perception of comfort between regulator and regulated is one of the reasons anti-Washington politics has consumed America.

What’s interesting about being a headhunter in Washington, however, is that a big part of the job can be creating a job for someone, rather than filling an existing one – a process that can seem wildly creative for mid- and late-career types considering a leap out of government. Carr finds herself in the middle of these conversations since managers often can’t talk to companies about jobs — but can, in theory, talk blue skies with consultants about the kind of work that would make them happy. Companies, he says, are less interested in someone who can run trains on time than someone who can tell them where to lay the tracks.

“We’re the only people, I think, who hire people and represent them as if we’re their personal agent,” he says. “When we’re on that side of the equation, probably 85% of the time they’re in a position that was either created for them or restructured to accommodate.”

One story he tells concerns a senior official who worked on anti-money laundering efforts – an area that has caused some angst in the banking world. As they were talking about the possibilities, the official mentioned out of the blue that a number of car dealerships have had money laundering issues due to thugs buying cars with questionable money. . Carr worked the phones, and it turned out to be news to a lot of executives in Detroit. The official ended up creating a niche advising automakers on how not to inadvertently violate money laundering laws.

Firm members can build on name recognition by securing a coveted board spot or CEO offer. But it represents a kind of fantasy for the ordinary bureaucratic man or woman – the realization that your narrow expertise can be a productive enterprise.

“It’s like being a doctor at a cocktail party, isn’t it?” Carr said. “A lot of people want to talk to you. It’s, ‘What do I do when I grow up?’ ‘What could I do that would make me more fulfilled?’”


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