Posts Tagged ‘Job Hunting’

Get Down to Business: 10 Qualities of Strong Job Seekers

August 11, 2017

I have had the good fortune of meeting and counseling thousands of job seekers during my life.

Former interns and co-workers, my alumni network, congressional aides, reporters and editors seeking to transition their careers, college professors on behalf of their top students, graduates of my own online course, colleagues in professional associations, and employers who have hired my mentees and want more employees like them all contact me for advice. Networking is the name of the game, and it beats solely searching for job postings.

After years of giving advice, it has become easy for me to spot the job seekers who have the most promise. They often exhibit these 10 attributes in exploring new positions or chances for advancement.

1. They know what they want and don’t want.

If an applicant says they are open to anything in any city, then I know that it’s far too broad for me to be helpful. Job seekers need to conduct research and know the types of positions, particular locations, and specific organizations they’d prefer working for to be able to secure specific recommendations and leads. Networking is more productive if people are realistic about their capabilities, experience and optimum job environments.

2. They are not obsessed with their résumés.

Résumés are essential, and should be complete, factual, concise and have no typographical or grammatical errors. However, it is excessive for someone to hire a résumé editor in the first 10 years of their career. Instead, job seekers should focus on WordPress sites, portfolios, short videos, business cards and other tools that complement their résumé.

3. They exhibit strong listening skills.

Time is precious for all parties. I do not need your life story or history of career failures to learn more about you and to offer some tips on networking targets and job leads. It is helpful if the person I am counseling is prepared to take good notes and to follow up quickly after our session. The first conversation we have — whether it’s on the phone, via email or in person — is not intended to be the only or last networking session.

4. They offer feedback and explanations in a purposeful and concise way.

The way people answer my questions is indicative of how they would do so in a formal job interview — and sometimes I am looking for talent to join our agency. Therefore, I appreciate those who are professional and provide constructive feedback.

5. They maintain a robust LinkedIn profile.

Employers I work with consult LinkedIn in almost every circumstance to learn about a job seeker’s career history. One should always try to maintain a positive online social media presence, especially during a job search.

6. They possess strong references and relationships.

It speaks volumes when someone takes the time and effort to ask for support and recommendations. Likewise, those who serve as references to young people are special individuals. It matters who you select, how well you know them and whether you trust what they say. For those who offer no substantive references: It will be a longer, more arduous job search without the human capital.

7. They connect with me, and other references, on social media.

If a prospective job seeker contacts me on LinkedIn or Twitter after a counseling session, I see it as positive and not presumptuous. Bring on the connections and the networking for life.

8. They’re willing to tap connections in their home state and alumni networks.

It speaks volumes when young people (or older adults seeking new career paths) have not consulted their home state or alumni networks. People in cities come from all over the globe, and we need to use every asset we have at our disposal in seeking jobs.

9. They are open to learning new skills, volunteering and meeting new people.

I look for individuals who are willing to take risks through internships, studying abroad and sometimes even delaying graduation by a semester for experiential opportunities. I also often invite people I have just met to accompany me to professional or networking events so they can meet people in a short time frame. Those who do not hesitate to take me up on the offer go up a rung on the ladder.

10. They follow up.

It doesn’t take much time to send a thank-you email or handwritten note, or offer a gesture that might help you stand out to someone who can guide your career search. The person who included a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card in her handwritten thank-you note, for instance, is someone I still periodically get lunch with.

Mike Fulton directs Asher Agency’s Washington, D.C. office and teaches public affairs at West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program. He worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years and has been in communications and advocacy for the past 25 years. Connect with him at This blog post originally appeared in PRSA Tactics. 

Positioning Yourself For An Agency Job Even If You Have No Experience

November 29, 2016


Marilyn Heywood Paige shares the real-world application of IMC in the agency setting

How To Land Your First Job at A Marketing Agency: A Two Part Series

Part I – Positioning Yourself For An Agency Job Even If You Have No Experience


You have a shiny new IMC degree that you’re pumped to put to good use. However, the jobs you’re qualified for are so entry level you fear you’ll poke your eyes out every day at work. While you may have the knowledge, you don’t have experience in the field. So what do you do to snag your dream job in a marketing agency? Here are five ways to position yourself to get your first agency job.

  1. Create an Online Portfolio

    Even if you aren’t a web developer or a designer, having an online portfolio will differentiate you from other candidates. While you’re at it, make sure your resume looks like a convincing marketing piece as well. There are tons of templates available for both print and online resumes and portfolios. Find one that works for you.

    If you’re afraid of not having anything to put in your portfolio, read on.

  2. Take Initiative

    It’s never too early to start putting your marketing degree to work. Belong to a church? Ask them if you can take over their email newsletters. Have a hobby you’re passionate about? Write a blog about it. Are you a member of an association or club? Build their website, shoot a video for them, or take over their Facebook page. Whatever skills you have in marketing, find a way to demonstrate them. Keep logs of your efforts, and wherever possible, have metrics to show your efforts helped the organization.

    Being able to display that you have done marketing work even as a volunteer will help a hiring manager see your passion, initiative, and ingenuity. It’s also the stuff portfolios are made of, so get busy.

  3. Practice Writing

    If you didn’t major in English, you probably weren’t tasked with writing a lot in college. Marketing requires mad writing skills, so if you don’t already have near perfect grammar and sharp writing skills, start reading marketing copy and trying to emulate it.

    What is marketing copy? Blogs, white papers, email newsletters, magazine ads—anything that is positioning a product or service is marketing copy, and you need to understand how it works and how to create it. Google it; find books on it; scour the internet for good examples of each type of writing. Then practice writing your own comparable pieces. If you want to dive in and learn to write copy, visit They have one of the best online learning hubs for copywriting. Even if you aren’t writing for an actual client, if you have solid writing samples in your portfolio, you will be far ahead of other prospective candidates.

  4. Get Certified

    The more skills you can bring to the table that are useful to an agency, the better chance you have of being hired. Just about every digital agency works with Google AdWords and Google Analytics. If you are certified in either one or both, they will see you as someone that they can get value from starting day one. Google offers free training online, and there are other places around the web that have courses to help you pass Google’s certification tests. It takes an investment of time but is well worth the effort.

  5. Be Teachable

    There is nothing wrong with being inexperienced. Everyone was at some point. Being teachable and willing to do the work to become an expert in your field is one of the most attractive qualities in a new hire. Having writing samples and Google certificates will be proof of this. Showing how you consistently asked for more responsibility at school and at prior jobs goes a long way too. Even if none of your work experience is related to marketing, demonstrating that you took on new projects and saw them through, can differentiate you from other candidates.

If your dream job is in an advertising or marketing agency, these five tips will get you closer to achieving it.

In part II of this series, I will give you tips on using old-school tactics to get your foot in the door to land an agency interview.

Marilyn Heywood Paige is the Vice President of FiG Advertising and Marketing in Denver Colorado. She earned her Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University in 2013.

Job Hunting Advice Reality

January 15, 2013

I’m back!  I am very happy to be back blogging for the IMC program after a short, unexpected absence.

In October, unfortunately, I was a victim of a major reduction in force (RIF) at a small, for-profit college that I worked for in Indianapolis.  I hold no grudges.  It was a difficult time for the college and they needed to make the right business decisions. The economy is still recovering and at the end of the day businesses often need to re-evaluate resources to stay profitable.  I get it.

Have multiple resumes!

Have multiple resumes!

The one thing that became very evident when I started looking for a new position was how dramatically searching for a job has changed with the emergence of social media and the sheer number of candidates out in the marketplace.  There are over 12 million people unemployed in the United States according to the December 2012 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a big number.

I have learned a lot in my search and here is some basic job hunting advice and suggestions from a 15 week job hunter:

  • Have your resume professionally evaluated and written.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money but it is always good to have a professional writer work on your resume.  That’s what they do for a living.  You wouldn’t have a dentist fix your car, would you?  Once the basic resume is written and before you approve it as final, ask a few people who you trust and will give you honest feedback to review the resume and give you their constructive thoughts.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is, essentially, a business networking site. Use it as it was intended.  Your LinkedIn profile should emulate your resume so that you have good integration between both sources.  When people search they will be more apt to find you.
  • Shout from the mountain tops that your are in the market for a new position.  Don’t be embarrassed about it.  It is a fact of our society right now.  Lots of people are looking.  You are likely not going to find a job sending out resumes through job search sites.  Your resume goes into a dBase along with thousands of others. Your chances of getting noticed are slim.  You probably will find a job by one-on-one networking and meeting with people.
  • Develop a routine so you don’t get in a rut.  Sure, take a week to gather yourself if you can afford to do so but don’t make that your new lifestyle.  Get up in the morning as though have a job, shower, get dressed and get to work.  Your job is finding a job.  It’s too easy to lay around and feel pity for yourself.  Get out of the house. Have lunch or coffee with old co-workers and new contacts. They probably don’t have a job for you but they might know someone who does and can provide some great ideas for your search.
  • Avoid paying a firm that will “find you a job”.  They are expensive and, in reality, you can find a job on your own if you put the work in.
  • Be careful when talking with recruiter or headhunters.  Some are very good and others are the used car salespeople of the industry.  Remember they will build you up and tell you how great you are but they work for someone else.  I have worked with a few who I trust and respect. Others will tell you whatever they can and then you never hear back from them.
  • And finally, when you see a job you are interested in, do two things.  Research the company thoroughly. Are they really the type of company you want to work for?  What looks great on paper might not be reality.  And second, look at your LinkedIn contacts to see if there are any 2nd or 3rd degree connections that can help you learn about the company and get you connected to some of the company employees.

For anyone searching for a new job, best of luck.  For those that are working, be thankful for what you have.

Til next time!

Back to School and Football Season!

September 7, 2011

One of my first WVU football games with 3 Sigma Kappa sisters

Now that school is back, it can only mean one thing: FOOTBALL! Not only as a current WVU IMC student but an undergraduate alumni from WVU as well, my favorite social activity as a mountaineer is the football games. There is nothing like walking in Morgantown and seeing tons of family, friends, and fans of the best school in the world.

This will be my last season living in Morgantown during football season, but I plan on coming back every year for many games! There is no way that I could move away and never come back to see my team. It is one of those experiences that you will remember for your whole life and treasure all of the times you spent with your fellow Mountaineers.

Now this early fall semester I am taking two courses: Multicultural Marketing and Applied Public Relations. Both of these classes I feel will be very beneficial in my career as an IMC professional. Multicultural Marketing will be a class I will use just in living in a metropolitan area in the country. The Baltimore Washington area is very diverse and there will be many different cultures that companies are looking to market towards.  I hope to learn a lot this semester in the course from my professor, Dr. Gyongyi Konyu-Fogel, and also from my classmates.

My other course is Applied Public Relations which will expand on what I have learned in my PR Concepts and Strategies class that I took last year. We have started writing about a non-profit organization of our choice and as a passionate animal lover, I chose to look into the Humane Society of Baltimore. I am glad that I am learning from the Advising Director of the IMC program, Professor Shelly Stump. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the 2011 Integrate Conference and it is great to finally be working with her in class.

Our new home is a work in progress

While learning from my professors and classmates, I am also going through the phase of being a first time home buyer. My husband and I just purchased a house in the Howard County, MD area and are looking to move in during the month of November. As you can see, it is still in its beginning stages and has a lot more work left to do.

But my husband and I have been traveling back and forth from Morgantown to Baltimore deciding all of the things that go with buying a new home. I am really enjoying being able to completely design our house instead of having to purchase a home that has previously been built.

It is a very exciting time and I look forward to using the concepts that I am learning throughout the semester when starting a new job in Baltimore. There are so many great topics that have been able to learn about and can’t wait to talk about them in my interviews.  My main focus now is finishing my masters degree, getting ready to move, and enjoying my family and friends in Morgantown before we leave!

Lets Gooooooooooooooo Mountaineers!!

Until next time!


Add me on Facebook:

Follow me on Twitter:

Email me @