The biggest challenges facing today’s social media job seeker

I’m not a recruiter. I’m not a hiring manager. And, I’m not looking to hire anyone at ACH Communications (I have all the help I need at the moment!).

So, I want to start this post by making it clear that I’m not a recruiting specialist, nor do I hire people on a routine basis.

But, I do talk to a lot of people. And, I talk to a lot of people about the job market. So, I do have a somewhat informed opinion on the topic of recruiting–especially in the PR and social world.

And, from what I can tell, there are a number of clear challenges facing today’s hiring manager–and today’s social media candidates.

On the hiring manager side, the complaint I hear the most from friends and colleagues is a lack of clarity or depth in the resume or interview. For example, a candidate may say they have “strong experience with social media advertising tools”–but the hiring manager comes to find out the candidate has never used Power Editor.

Another example: The candidate might say “I helped drive and implement an integrated social media strategy for the company”–but the hiring manager comes to learn the candidate played just a very small role in that strategy development and that most of it was done by his manager.

From a hiring perspective, social positions are tough because sometimes the hiring manager isn’t the most fluent in social–therefore, they don’t know what they don’t know. Hiring managers may hire a candidate expecting they have a certain skill set they promised in the interview, only to find out the depth of that skill is surface deep at best.

On the candidate side, what I see most often when reviewing LinkedIn profiles is that junior to mid-level candidates don’t fully understand how to best position themselves to employers. They use generalities in their descriptions and stay pretty fluffy when talking about their work.

And, I think some folks tend to over-represent their work and skills. I see lots of “social media strategy development” in junior-level profiles. And while that might be true to an extent, I think it’s dangerous to label yourself as a strategy lead when you’re 25 years old (even if you did actually work on the strategy for your last company/client).

Finally, I don’t see a lot of results and numbers as I sift through LinkedIn profiles–which is absolutely BAFFLING to me since social is littered with opportunities to insert results and data. I mean, I wish I would have had the data I have now when I was building my resume 15-20 years ago. Yet, if you look through most LinkedIn social resumes, you won’t see a lot in terms of results or numbers. Strange.

So, what would I suggest? I thought you’d never ask:

For hiring managers:

  • If you’re not fluent in social, but you’re tasked with hiring social talent, ask someone else within the organization to review resumes and participate in the interviews with you. They should be able to spot the warning flags you might otherwise miss–and they’ll give you a fresh perspective as well (and if you don’t have someone–call me! I’d love to help!).
  • Ask for all the details. In interview situations, make sure you ask for specific details when discussing the candidate’s experience with content management systems, social advertising and community management. Get those details out now while you can–once they’ve started, it’s far too late.

For candidates:

  • Showcase your social results–not actions. I see far too many lists of actions when I look at social media resumes, and not nearly enough results. How did the program you helped lead drive awareness or engagements for the org? How much traffic did you drive to your site? I mean, you should have a ton of stats and data you can plug into your resume.
  • Resist the urge to over-promise. I know the whole “fake it til you make it” is a big thing. But, when it comes to interviews for social positions, I’d probably suggest avoiding that tactic. Here’s why: You say you can do something in the interview, you better damn well deliver on it once you’ve started. In fact, I believe in the opposite adage: Under-promise–over-deliver.
  • Don’t worry about the title game. Yes, titles are important in that they can lead to more money over the course of your career. I’m not necessarily going to argue that point. But, chasing titles can be exhausting–and problematic for your career growth. For example, a friend of a friend became a “Vice President” at a very early age–then was laid off. That friend was jobless for a very long time, and I have a feeling it was because he/she was looking for jobs at a similar level, even though the similar level he/she should have been looking for was account supervisor–not VP. He/she priced himself/herself right out of the market, all because he/she had a big job title at an early age.

 

photo credit: flazingo_photos Scrabble – Resume via photopin (license)

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