Salisbury, Md.: I'm job hunting in public relations/marketing after my job was reduced to part time because of budget cuts. I have had the misfortune for the past few years of having several short-term positions through no fault of my own (i.e., business closing). How can I convince prospective employers that I am experienced enough for management despite my never moving into a management position from the inside?

You don't. Management isn't just about having a minimum number of years of experience performing a job. It's a completely different skill set. It is, however, one that you can acquire. To that end, take the long view as you search for your next job. Choose your new employer with an eye toward moving into management within a year or two. Make this goal a key part of the interview process, and find an employer who's willing to invest the time into grooming you to move into the upper ranks. (At which point you likely forfeit the right to say you have no responsibility for the business closing.)

Does a graduate school research paper from three years ago count as a writing sample? I really don't write too much; I just change formats from letters already in the system.

It counts. It counts a whole lot if the subject matter is relevant to the job for which you're applying. However, if it's a writing job you seek, you might want to start looking for ways to beef up your clips. Have you written any substantial memos? Is there an industry trade magazine for which you could write an article?