Looking for a Job As a Social Business Professional?

Looking For a Job As A Social Business Professional? - Brass Tack Thinking

Trying to break into social as a career? Looking to make a transition from your existing role to one that looks more like a social or community professional gig?

Here are a few tips from the trenches.

1. Read the job description.

In reality, “Social” in the title means nothing. In fact, some companies are so convinced they need a social/community/whatever that they just cut and paste job descriptions from somewhere else on the web.

Then you have companies who absolutely know what they’re looking for, and write a description accordingly.

A social media coordinator is not a community manager is not a social business strategist is not a digital director. Just because there are social aspects to a role does not mean that your experience translates.

Read carefully.

2. If you can’t glean the business purpose of this role through the description, walk away.

Did I mention GMOOT syndrome? It’s the strategy of “Get Me One Of Those”, and there are so many jobs out there for “social” people that are nothing more than someone to man the Twitter account.

If you can’t see that the business has considered how and where the role fits into the larger department or organization, it isn’t a role they’re likely to keep for long, and not a role you’re likely to thrive in, no matter what.

Don’t let your desire to have a social gig overshadow a role that isn’t well thought out, or you’ll find yourself on the market all over again in no time.

3. Social media savvy is becoming table stakes.

Tough love: you are no longer special because you understand social media at a surface level. You are not outstanding talent because you can navigate Facebook.

What you need to demonstrate is that you understand social’s role in strategy, whether it be discipline-specific (like marketing) or business-wide. Ideally both.

As the next generations enter the workforce and move into leadership roles, you have to learn to describe and apply your value in terms broader than your knowledge of some tech platforms or the latest whizbang. That’s valuable in the moment, but knowledge of social media is becoming a skill, not a job.

Learn the implications of social business and how to articulate your ability to further it, and you’ll be much better off.

4. “Social” jobs will evolve to look nothing like they do today.

Within the next 5-7 years, more and more businesses will sunset social-specific roles (as they should, to a degree) and recognize that social is a mindset, a philosophy, and a set of practices that absolutely needs to be treated holistically and embedded into many different roles and disciplines.

There may always be a need for those that understand it better than most, but as you increase the level of responsibility, specialization and market-surge hype around roles goes away and companies look to professionals that are core to culture, vision and strategy, not a functional area of expertise.

You don’t want to become obsolete. Relevance is everything in a light-speed world, which means not pigeon-holing yourself as a “social media strategist” just because that’s all the rage.

The people who ascend into leadership roles understand how to avoid typecasting and always, always adapt.

5. Look for roles in your field that do *not* have social in the title, but whose value could be increased with social knowledge.

The age-old conundrum: I can’t get experience without a role, but I can’t get a role without experience.

Quit chasing the job title you think you want on a business card, and instead look at roles that you are already qualified for — regardless of title — that take advantage of your expertise, skills, knowledge, and where you might be able to use your social point of view to add value and dimension to the role and teach others, too.

If social is strategic, then you should be able to bring its value to any role you take on. If you don’t have enough experience to be considered for specialized social roles, then you have to get that experience somewhere, and be willing to work to attain it even if that means starting somewhere that’s better suited to your existing background (or the potential you’re able to communicate).

Feel like you’ll be restricted and not allowed to tread into social territory in a different role? Then you’re looking at a culture issue with the company, not a limitation of a job description. That needs to weigh into your considerations.

6. Now is not the time to carpet-bomb your network if you haven’t been cultivating it. Suck it up and do it better next time.

Desperation is not a strategy.

If you haven’t spent the time to gently and continuously invest in the relationships you have with people over time — especially the tenuous online connections — you have no business sending a mass email/LinkedIn Message/FB message/all of the above to everyone that you’re remotely connected to in order to have them help you with a job search.

If you have put in the time and energy, the few relationships you have cultivated well will bear much greater fruit in a job search than the ones you abuse because you’re frantic to get the word out about just how badly you want a social media gig.

People want to help others. But we can’t all help everyone who asks, and we don’t feel particularly valuable if we’re just one of thousands of people to get a generic, mass inquiry.

If you need a hand, spend the time communicating individually with people, and think specifically about how they might be able to help you. Ask politely. Be gracious. And offer something of value in return.

We all benefit when we help each other, but you don’t earn the trust that makes that help valuable by treating your connections like nothing more than an audience on the other end of your bullhorn.

7. If you don’t like the climate, wait five minutes.

As a both an experienced social professional and someone who has hired for social roles, trust me when I tell you that:

  • Roles exist for people with lots of related experience but no specific background in social.
  • Companies exist that have great vision for what social can become. Some will never get it.
  • Your professional worth is not wrapped up a job title.
  • Thinking creatively and demonstrating enthusiasm for learning will always make you a more attractive candidate.

The landscape of social business will continue to change, and the roles that are needed to support it will continue to change too. In fact they are doing so rapidly.

So as you’re out there pursuing a career in this trendy field, remember that business as we know it is what’s truly changing. Social is just the window dressing, the catalyst, the thing that’s set it all in motion.

Put yourself in a position to be a strategic asset instead of a tactical one, and you’ll always be ahead of the game.

  • http://www.erikanapoletano.com/ Erika Napoletano

    Like it. Admittedly, it makes my skin crawl when I hear that someone wants to be a “community manager.” Really? Because I don’t know a single client who needs one of those. They need a marketing partner, brand advocate, and someone who is absolutely bonkers about doing whatever it takes to get the brand where it needs to be to best serve its audience. Sounds like a career marketing professional with a hella toolbox, if you ask me :)

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Not sure we agree on that one, actually. I still see a lot of purpose for community management, because it’s a blend of communication and service and internal work that takes more than just a marketing pedigree. But your point is well taken: these roles have *got* to be thought of in context, not in isolation.

      Ideally, it’s *all* disciplines and they’re each making social part of what they are, not just something they “do”. The problem is that companies are just trying to throw bodies at a checklist item, and some professionals are chasing what they perceive to be the hot role of the moment.

      In either case, if you can’t see past your nose about these kinds of jobs and why they’re even useful, it’s a short term road to wasting time and money.

  • http://twitter.com/stevesonn Steve Sonn

    I think that’s part of the disconnect for brands, small businesses and many people: that social is viewed from a tactical standpoint and not a strategic standpoint. But if it becomes more about social being “who we are,” the “what we do” should flow out of that. Professionals that can see and demonstrate social’s value to the business are much more valuable than those who only know the latest Twitter tricks and tips. Nice post.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      That’s exactly it, Steve. And it’s part of the shift that social “business” is starting to make, though the use of social in both contexts is confusing the hell out of people.

  • Nancy Kenney

    Good information here and oh so true. I have had calls from recruiters looking to submit my resume for positions that they really do not understand. I am thankful for the thought, however, I am the one doing the education on the role based on almost 5 years in the social field. I like the idea of taking my past HR experience and maybe becoming a social media recruiter.

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  • http://ohsosocial.me/ Megan McCook

    I love the points you make on #3 and #4 about the evolution of the social media industry and positions. I agree than in the future social will be seen as an integral approach. The social media mindset is something we as social media professionals, as a collective, need to recognize sooner rather than later.