First, he said: "No one ever gets a job on Capitol Hill because they know somebody."

"Our first advice to new members is don't hire somebody you can't fire," he said. "Don't hire the mayor's kid! Don't hire your contributors' kids! Don't hire your best friend from high school who thinks he's going to be a senior counsel, and suddenly he gets to Washington and realizes he doesn't have an office, he doesn't have a secretary, and he's answering mail on Saturday nights!"

That said, he added: "Any way you know anyone who's connected to the campaign, who's connected to the member, who's connected to the delegation, you have to say 'take a look.' And that's the best that you can do. You just try to get your resume pulled out of that pile of a thousand so they'll at least look at you."

Ties to the district or state are helpful. So is experience in Washington.

Fitch tells members to hire carefully.

"This group of people will determine your success or failure more than any other group of people," he said. "Of course, members are the sun and the moon here. Everything revolves around them. But absolutely, having an experienced and dedicated and efficient staff goes a long way toward making a member successful."

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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