Want a Social Media Job? Try These 11 Tips

sm_jobsI’m currently looking to fill a social media position at a company I work for. As the resumes have poured in (over 100 in two days for an on-site, part-time job!), it’s become quite obvious that the majority of job seekers do not know how to apply for a social media-related job. Social media careers are on the rise, and we know you want to hop on the train while the getting is good.

There’s no perfect formula, as each employer will be looking for something different, but there are a few basics that I think most hiring agents will want to see.

Resumes and Cover Letters.
You need to prove what you have accomplished and get your message across in under five seconds. That’s right, FIVE seconds. Many human resources professionals say they scan a resume for between 15 and 20 seconds. But this is new media, a world where everyone wears multiple hats – too many hats. The person reviewing your resume has 100 other commitments, and bringing a newbie onboard takes time away from their regular obligations, so you’ve gotta make it quick! If you’re trying to land a social media gig and are still using the standard cover letter/resume format, you already have one strike against you. Aside from owning YOURNAME.com, I also recommend setting up a simple introduction page that offers a snapshot of who you are using a site like magntize.com. Adapt your “normal” resume for a social media gig by making it concise and pithy, while keeping in the core components.

Legacy of Success.
These days everyone who owns a touchscreen mobile device or uses Facebook on a daily basis, fashions themselves a social media expert. If I were interviewing you, I’d need proof that you are active on multiple channels. I don’t want to see that you have 10,000 Followers on Twitter, I want to know HOW you amassed the following. Be prepared to outline your social media methodologies in an interview, and drop a few not-so-subtle hints in your introduction.

Safe for Work…Always.
Everything you post, all of your friends, groups and affiliations should be safe for work – without exception. I realize you might hurt Uncle Pete’s feelings when his friend request is denied, but a guy with a tattoo on his chin and ring through his forehead will not help you land a job – no matter how smart and nice he may be. No one is impressed that you’re part of the Northwest Beer Pong Association. As much as people appreciate transparency, never forget that organizations are always looking for reasons NOT to hire you. Why give them one more?

Be Current.
You must show recent success. A year ago, or even several months ago, is a lifetime in the rapidly moving digital world. New media departments are interested in what you did yesterday, not last year.

Have a Good Avatar.

The image that represents you should be YOU. Make it professional (with a creative twist) and be sure that it looks somewhat like you. Don’t use an image that is more than a year old. Keep it as neutral as possible. When trying to land a job, it’s important to have mass appeal. Save your originality until (or after) you get an interview.

Consistent Activity.
If this was baseball, most managers would be looking for a player who goes 1 for 3 on a regular basis, not a guy who is streaky. Keep your social media activity regular by making posts on a regular basis. Don’t post once a week and then make 20 updates at once (especially if these updates occur the week leading up to the job interview).

Limited Saturation.
People want you to live and breath digital communication, but they also want to see that you have a “brick and mortar” life. I like to see people using social networks, not living on them. If you’re wishing your mom a happy birthday on a public wall, we have an issue.

Who Is Your Network?

Attend conferences and rub elbows with big names. Show that when you post content, you have a team of followers to help you promote it. It might not be fair but your associations come into play. Personally, I’m not a big fan of wearing a plastic badge and handing out business cards to people filling tote bags with freebies, but there’s no doubt that many people – especially those making hiring decisions – are impressed when you attend trade shows.

Fast Turnaround.

So many blogs do nothing more than monitor other blogs and repurpose content. I’d much rather see original posts. I do, however, acknowledge the fact that reporting something early – even if it’s already been addressed by a competitor – is a way to grow blog traffic. If you can prove that you’ve scooped other sites, or been early on big stories, you will prove your journalistic mettle and potential worth as an employee. Have a few ‘early bird’ examples ready for your cover letter and/or interview.

Know Everything.
I remember an employment counselor telling me early on in my career that I was a “jack of all trades” but a master of none, something that could hinder my career advancement. When it comes to new media, that’s the old model, and couldn’t be further from the truth. In today’s world, anyone working in social media should be able to crop in Photoshop, make simple edits to audio/video and understand what embedding code is all about. Become a multi-media master.

Business Acumen.
It might be a “new” world when it comes to media, but many of the old business paradigms are still in place. You need to cite examples of proven success and how you can meet deadlines while working autonomously. Even though social media can be a lot more fun than sitting at a boring board meeting, many of the companies hiring adhere to typical business protocol. Be ready to show that you are as comfortable around the conference room table in a suit as you are working from home in your jammies.

We always love your feedback. If there’s an essential trait or tactic you feel someone must have or utilize to work in social media, let us know in the comments below. If you’re sitting on the other side of the desk from me for a social media job, than these 11 are a good start.