The Death Of The Social Media Career: Why You Don’t Just Want A Job In Social Media

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Image courtesy of The Undercover Recruiter

A question I get a lot from new graduates looking to get into the professional world and even professionals looking for a career change is, “How do I start a career in social media?” or when asked what they want to do they say “I want to work in social media.”

There is No Such Thing as a Social Media Expert

The reality is there is no such thing as a career in social media or ‘working in social media’. That’s like saying I want a job in email or carrier pigeon. Social media is merely one of many digital channels of communication—it’s a tool. When trying to define your career path, think bigger. A career is something you can be an expert in. Social media “experts” do not exist. There are people that are really good at using it…but even they are merely students of the medium. That’s like saying you are a texting expert. Before you say, “But I AM a texting expert. I know all the abbreviations ROFL, LOL!”–you’re not. There is no such thing.

Social media is a communication technology that is constantly evolving and bleeding into everything from advertising to corporate communication. No one can possibly be an expert in something like Facebook because, in reality, it could be gone in 5 years (Ask Tom from Myspace) or just drastically different. Seriously, do you remember what Facebook looked like even a year ago? It’s already evolved drastically in just the last 6 months.

The ‘Hyped Up’ Toddler

In the mid-2000’s, when social media was still in its infancy (some would argue it still is but I’d rather look at it as a toddler now), many industries were trying to figure it all out. Social media became a big hype and everyone thought it was this great new industry that would revolutionize everything. That there would be a whole new workforce of people that just do social media for a living. The problem, though, is that social media isn’t an industry or a job–it’s a communication skill.

It is Revolutionizing…

Now don’t get me wrong, social media is revolutionizing and some people do make a complete living using social media (either as a marketing channel or by consulting in it’s use, etc). It has definitely allowed humans to communicate online even more efficiently than offline and created some major efficiencies in mass communication, to a point that it’s literally sparked revolutions.

Social Media as a Profession is Dying

While social media is revolutionizing as a communication technology, I would actually say that social media as a stand alone profession is dying and I’m not the only one. Though, maybe, it really never existed to begin with and people were confusing what category to put a job like a community manager or social media strategist into. What if you looked at a community manager as a customer service rep or PR/marketing person that uses social as their channel to communicate with their audience, not a social media person who helps out customer service or PR. See what I mean?

This is causing a lot of confusion. For example, I’m a Director of Recruiting but I use social media A LOT. Many of my friends confuse my career and assume I do social media for a living because I use it to brand my company, myself and as a way to make hiring people more human and effecient. I attract talent and hire talent…I’m in recruiting….not social media. Social media is a tool I use for recruiting.

Don’t Work IN Social Media, Work WITH Social Media

What I’m noticing is that, by now, most professional jobs have been enhanced by social technology and almost all jobs require some social media skills and understanding. Large corporations now use enterprise social networking software like Jam to collaborate across global teams and recruiters use social recruiting software like SuccessFactors Recruiting Marketing to find talent and select top talent (Disclaimer: I work for SuccessFactors/SAP which is why I used those as examples but we do happen to be the industry leader in these products). The better you know social the better you could be at any job. So, don’t go looking for a job in social media. Look for a job with social media and use social media to be better at your job.

For example…

Let’s say you are a Java Developer. You can build a network of other Java developers on GitHub.com, Google+ or on Twitter and learn from each other. You could write a blog about new techniques and programming languages you’re learning which highlights your skills to potential employers and shows you as an expert. You can highlight your coding skills and teach others or land new jobs.

Really, this can be done with almost every profession. You could love making quilts and build a community of quilt makers and fans of quilts. Let’s say you  then build a website where you sell those quilts to that community you’ve built, and write a blog about awesome quilt making tips and tricks to create new quilting fans who would buy your products because they see you as a knowledgeable and talented quilter. See where I’m going with this?

All I’m saying is you don’t WANT a job in social media. You want a job that centers around what you love to do and then use social media to achieve your career goals faster and more efficiently and foster the genuinely natural human inclination to be a part of a community of like-minded individuals who elevate each other. Put yourself out there. Use social media to brand yourself professionally and build your career.

So, find something you love to do and use social media to grow your skills and a professional community (and I don’t mean just on Linkedin…which is a given for professional networking) to move your career in the direction of your passions.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments below if you think the social media career is dead and why/why not?

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Cracking the Social Recruiting Code: 4 Proactive Job Hunting Tips To Stand Out From the Crowd

For the past couple years I’ve been building out corporate social recruiting strategies and programs as well as training recruiters on how to find candidates and engage with them in more of a human, relationship focused way using social media. In this post I spill the beans on a few of these tactics that can be flipped around and used by job seekers to find and build relationships with recruiters and key contacts at organizations you are looking to find employment with. Whether you are currently on the job hunt or not, these are some useful tips for getting inside a social savvy recruiters head that will help you throughout your career.

1) Personal branding 101

This first one is a no-brainer and I’m sure you’ve all read a million blogs about personal branding. However, it is the necessary first step. After all, you are theproduct you are selling in your job search. Be regularly active on the sites where recruiters are living such as LinkedinTwitterGoogle+ and Facebook. Actively post about your professional endeavors and projects highlighting yourself as an expert in your field. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get personal on your social networks, but you should also always be cognizant of what your audience is seeing (and the risks involved) so consider your audience and privacy settings before clicking that share button.

But remember, employers are starting to care more about you actually having an online presence than not having a bad one.

2) Spit it back at them.

Recruiters are out on social networks trying to find you, so go out and and find recruiters. If you just applied at a company for a marketing job – search for the recruiters hiring for marketing jobs at that company. Every recruiter is on Linkedin…start there. Find people who work at the company or in a similar position and network with them. Ask them how they got there.

Use Social Media and Social Directories to Find People to Network With

Google+: Search Google+ itself by keyword or use the directory findpeopleonplus.com to use filters to find users that work at specific companies or who have particular roles.

Twitter: Use Twitter Search itself to find conversations mentioning the keywords you search when they use in them tweets, hashtags, and narrow down by geographic location. One of my favorites is a Twitter directory called Twellow. It’s like the Yellow Pages for Twitter and can be used to find people who are influential in certain industries or topics that may be making hiring decisions. You can find and follow employees at your target companies as well.

Facebook: Search Facebook itself by keyword and find events (for in-person network), groups to network with others in your industry, and even public status updates to find conversations in real time! Also, check out the BranchOut app on Facebook. It’s the largest professional network built on top of Facebook so it allows you a safe way to connect with professionals (without becoming Facebook friends) but still leverage your personal social graph on Facebook to find jobs and people at particular companies.

Why use Facebook in your job search? Well, according to Jobvites Social Recruiting Survey, almost twice as many people found jobs using Facebook than Linkedin. Why is this? Think about the people who are most likely to refer you to a job. It’s not that guy who gave you a business card at a conference that one time that you connected with on Linkedin. It’s that friend you went to college with, your uncle in the banking industry, or your old friend from high school. These people can really vouch for you and are comfortable reaching out to their network for you to help you land that job.  Your personal network.

3) Get creative

Go above and beyond if you really want that job! Do things that will get a recruiter or company’s attention. Recruiters receive resume after resume as well as emails just like the ones you’ve probably seen blasting out on CareerBuilder or Monster so get creative! Including something like a clever video resume or a link to a website you created highlighting your skills in your cover letter or resume can really give you that ability to separate yourself from the heard!

Did you see that “Google Please Hire Me” video resume to Google by Matt Epstein in September that became a viral video? That guy got 80 interviews and a pretty sweet gig out of that. Read more about that here.

Also, anytime you can get creative in your job search using the product of the company your looking to get hired at is s a winning combination! At SlideRocket, a division of VMware, an applicant (and now employee) Hanna Phan did just that. Watch the presentation and check out Hanna’s story here.

Within weeks of this being virally shared throughout VMware, without even landing the job officially yet, she already began building a fan base! Talk about a great first impression, right?

If you are a web developer – build a website that highlights you in the position you want at the company you want. It’s so much easier to share a link to a recruiter or company employee on social media than it is a paper resume (and it’s more likely to be seen as well)!

Recruiters are so bored with the basic resume that when something compelling comes at them, they WILL remember you. If they get a lasting impression from you, and you don’t qualify for that immediate role, they will think of you for the next position that comes along.

4) Resume Blasts are a thing of the Past

This is a mindset recruiters still need to break as well. Just as the days of recruiters blasting their jobs on job boards hoping the perfect candidate applies are over also are the days of career seekers blasting out their resumes hoping that perfect job comes calling. In this job market, in the days of social media, that just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Start your job search by researching and identifying 10-15 companies whose culture and vision match your own and proactively reach out to people at those companies. Learn about the manager of the department you want to work in and even their leadership. You landed the interview? Great, now ask the recruiter for the names of the people you are going to be interviewing with and do some research like I mentioned in point 2 above before you go in there!

Do you currently use social media in your job search? What are some creative ways you have seen either job seekers or recruiters use social media?


Career Tip from a VMware Recruiter: How to Handle Rejection

This week’s Career Tip from a VMware Recruiter comes to you from Clint Buelter, R & D Recruiter at VMware in Austin, TX:

As a candidate you apply to jobs, research companies, meet recruiters, and attend interviews. With the drive and purpose to make a forward move in your career. The reality is, you won’t get every job you apply to or interview for, there is a multitude of other candidates in the market actively or passively. And let’s face it, there is always someone out there smarter / better than you in your industry or profession.

Don’t be discouraged, here is the tip.:

What to do when you hear “we regret to inform you, that we are moving forward with other candidates…”

My advice, and I know at first this seems obvious,  is to:

  1. Thank your recruiter for their time (in reply to the email or on the phone).
  2. Thank them for introducing you to the team / speaking on your behalf.
  3. Ask if they would please thank the team for taking their time to meet with you or provide you with an address that you could send a professional thank you note to the interviewers (this added touch let’s them know your a good sport and leaves a lasting impression).
  4. And finally, ask your recruiter if you can add them to your network (Linkedin/Twitter) so that you can be connected for future opportunities.

If you do these things as a candidate, you will stand out to the organization, the teams, and the recruiter. Who do you think a hiring team/recruiter will call the next time they have a similar role? The candidate who slams the phone down after arguing how great a candidate they are or the candidate that says thank you and leaves a good, professional impression?

About Clint Buelter:

Clint is passionate about technology and the products we develop at VMware. He enjoys being an evangelist tasked with finding, developing relationships, and introducing like minded – talented folks that desire to perform / make an impact, and grow with the leader in virtualization, cloud, SaaS, PaaS. Clint says he is also a big San Antonio Spurs fan. He currently recruits for the following roles at VMware:

Build Infrastructure & Tools
Enterprise Management – VCM
Technical Publications
Endpoint Security
SpringSource