Getting a job in marketing communications isn’t easy - it’s down right rough.

We talk to hundreds of college students each year about how to get a job in advertising, public relations or marketing.
And it occurred to me the advice we give them just might be helpful to any job seeker out there, regardless of experience.

So, here’s our words of wisdom (job hunt oath); including the most powerful question you can ask.

Approach The Job Search Like a Marketing Communications Challenge
• I am the product; I will take my unique set of skills, education, experiences and personality to market
• I will consider my target audience and appeal to what they want and need
• I will never approach my resumé as one size fits all
• My resumé will be smart, well-written and compelling; my LinkedIn profile will be as well, plus they’ll be accurate and error-free

Look at Networking as “The Art of Making Others Feel Good”
• I will search for opportunities to be around professionals
• I will remember the cardinal rule – people love to talk about themselves and what they do
• I will ask the most powerful question in my job search – “Would you mind telling me about what you do and your career path?”
> And I will listen; then, I will listen some more
> After that, I will ask for a meeting

Act Like a Business Colleague during the Interview
• I will have done my homework – from research to lobby observation
• I will be the person the hiring manager or professional sitting across from me would be proud to present to the president of the company
• I will be able to articulate my unique selling proposition (USP) during the conversation
• I will remember the importance of body language
• And I will ask good business questions

Consider Social Media an Important Tool in My Job Search
• I will think about my personal brand with every tweet I make
• I will be strategic with the people I follow and share with

Let me just get this out there.  I have nothing against marketing automation software.  I think using technology to reach, track, and qualify leads is a worthwhile pursuit.  But here’s the thing.  I also think a lot of marketers are half expecting that when they plug in the software leads will immediately start falling from the sky like rain.

I think that misconception is rooted in the liberal use of the word lead.  What is a lead really?  It’s a person.  More specifically, it’s a person who might buy your stuff one day—or maybe even today, if you’re lucky.

Because you’re a person, you can probably imagine what it’s like to be a lead, and what might be important and interesting to a lead.  Search your heart, and you’re likely to conclude it’s not an off-target, impersonal, automated message routed to your email inbox, or someone beating you over the head with their sales pitch, or the umpteenth dull as the paper it’s written on white paper of the week, or an invitation to try some product or service you’ve never heard of, from some company that’s equally unfamiliar to you.

What you probably wouldn’t mind receiving or running across, though, is some bit of information that actually helps you do your job better or makes you smarter about some subject you’re interested in.  And it wouldn’t hurt if that bit of information took up very little of your time, was presented in an interesting way that made you laugh, or smile, or think about things differently.

But honestly, how much of the stuff that you run across each day meets that threshold?  If you’re experience is anything like mine, I’ll bet very little.

So, as wonderful as marketing automation might be, what it definitely doesn’t do is the one thing that really counts when you’re trying to produce leads (aka, convince someone to take notice and possibly consider doing business with you).  And that’s capture the attention and imagination of a specific someone.

For that to happen, you’re going to have to do the hard work of creating something (content it’s called these days) that stops a person in his or her tracks, amid all of the other things competing for this person’s attention.  And that includes texts from their family and friends, cat videos, and the thousands of other things tugging at them or distracting them day in and day out.

To put a fine point on it, the quality of the content you share is a critical component in the lead gen game.  You can’t build this really cool engine and then shove garbage into it and expect it to perform.  Without some high test fuel, you’re lead gen program is doomed to sputter and stall.

Marcus Thomas Partner and Creative Director Jim Sollisch gets paid to bring a unique perspective to his work, but sometimes he just does it because it's fun and thought-provoking.

In his recent contribution to the pages of The Christian Science Monitor, Jim explores the negative consequences of technology and how reading may be one of its casualties.