Want A Corporate Social Media Job? Demonstrate These Three Essential Qualities

Hiring managers, recruiters, and management staff are often confused on where they can find qualified social media professionals for corporate positions. They get a lot of resumes, but few are qualified and the rest are “wannabes”. In many cases, they have to employ the services of a recruiter to poach an experienced individual working at an agency or corporation, or post a paid listing on my job board (see right column).

I’ve reviewed quite a few job descriptions and talked to a few folks in the field, and can boil down the job reqs to three major skills, they are:

The Three Essential Qualities of Corporate Social Media Positions
There’s often a list of skills, backgrounds, education, and sometimes Twitter follower requirements listed but It boils down to three qualities:

1) Fulfill Meaningful Business Objectives
Here’s where companies are having problems finding qualified folks. The social media early adopter types tend not to be able to see beyond the shiny technologies and understand the business objectives. I can quickly find out who these folks are as they focus on the greatest latest tool. What’s a trick for landing a corporate job in social? Be able to have a 5 minute conversation with an executive about connecting with customers without ever mentioning twitter, facebook, or a blog. Secondly, these individuals will be able to use brand monitoring tools, have analytical abilities, and be able to benchmark their efforts that tie back to business metrics –not social media metrics.

2) Bridge Both Internal Stakeholders and Customers
This quality requires the professional to be able to relate to internal teams that may not understand the social culture, be empathetic, be able to communicate and train them, and be able to put it into action. Secondly, they often need to understand the culture of the community which they serve, communicate with them in a trusted manner, and engage in meaningful dialog.

3) Show Credibility With The Technology
The biggest struggle with hiring teams is that the demand and excitement for social and the recession has spurred a great number of social media experts and consultants. We already know that usage and experience don’t equate to social media expertise, yet hiring teams continue to look for credibility by the individuals current use with the tools. What they don’t tell you is this: are you capable of learning new technologies, evaluating, and then applying for business needs. Don’t misread this, it’s not in your favor if you were a late adopter, or don’t know the nuances of the technology, but it’s secondary to being able impact the company.

My hope is that boiling down these three essential qualities it’ll help both hiring managers and applicants be able to sort themselves out. But let’s open it up to you, are you a hiring manager or a candidate? What’s missing?

Update: David Armano shows what not to look for.

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  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog Albert Maruggi

    Just spent a couple of days with health care marketers from a cross section of hospitals. I also had a session with a billion dollar plus business insurance company on their modest, and I mean modest social strategy.

    My radar highlights significant hype fatigue, maybe even disappointment with the social space. Your post and Andy Sernovitz’s one about avoid the shiny new object

    Another great comment to this end from colleague Doug Pollei who said social media should be viewed as a strategic innovation not a marketing tactic. Agreed, especially if an organization is going to absorb the potential enterprise wide, cultural implications of being an active participant in things social. To add possibly a new point, this person should have the vision to demonstrate how business processes can be enhanced the more an organization participates in the social web. It is only through creating a business process that the random opportunities of the web can be incorporated and measured.

    All the best, and congrats on the Altimeter Group

  • http://mcmilkergroup.com/ Maryanne Conlin

    Excellent and thoughtful article. Social media is a tool or tactic for achieving marketing goals. A solid background in marketing; understanding the key concepts of target market and positioning and experience in other types of marketing beyond social media are traits that I look for when hiring.

    I tend to be leery of social media experts with no offline marketing experience. As social media matures, it will begin to look more and more, from a strategic viewpoint like traditional marketing. The tools are different but the goals of consumer engagement with the brand stay the same – we can just do it better now with these new tools.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Maryanne, it’s not just marketing but support, then innovation.

  • http://www.oldschoolventures.com Lou Sagar

    Companies and team leaders need to insure that the vision and mission statements of the Company are updated and aligned with the emergence of the social web. Unqualified applicants will likely not care much. Qualified applicants will show enormous interest and I think a good tip that you have a good candidate. Since social media
    is transformative, and trans-organizational…this is key to finding
    qualified applicants where there is an enormous talent shortage on
    the front lines.

  • http://adamchristensen.com adam christensen

    Good points. You touch on this in #1, but the thing I look for most here @ IBM is simply good business judgment. If they don’t know how to do PR 1.0, they can’t do PR 2.0. If they can’t do Marketing 1.0, they can’t do Marketing 2.0.

    And I find the biggest missing quality is good judgment. Folks who are so deep in social media sometimes tend to forget the world beyond social media and leave their otherwise strategic thinking and focus at the door. I need someone who can look across the business at what we need strategically, THEN look at the available tactics (1.0 and 2.0) and find the appropriate mix in the context of our brand, our culture, our business model, etc.

  • http://www.online-marketing-forum.com Dynasty Web

    This is business, so you need to have the top effective marketing techniques of today. It so happen to be social media. You need people on your team who understands about internet marketing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=712406420 Jamie Favreau

    I am one of those people who are looking for an entry level position but even as I was doing a contact position I knew you need to mix traditional and social together. I am writing an extended plan for them because they are starting a book tour and I didn’t have enough time to write a concrete strategy.

    I want to go into PR for a tech based company or someone who has a lot of tech clients because I feel they understand the technology and are ahead on the learning curve.

    I have been studying SEO, marketing, social media and PR. So I feel this is a great blend for a person attempting to get into the field. I don’t think you can be a straight Social Media person with out understanding how company’s communicate, what obstacles they have in communication, and everything else.

    Social Media is an additional strategy but not always the answer.

  • Bobby B Singh

    Excellent Insight, Social Media Strategy without understanding the underlying business ecosystem is flawed. Yes we’re now at an exciting new realm of inter-connectivity, but how it affects Bench-marked targets and Return On Effort/Investment is where all the focus should be. Business driven by new tools and not the other way around.

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  • http://refreshedit.com/index.php/about-me Kersten kloss

    Good stuff, thanks for sharing your world. I have been silent but very intrigued by your comments and achievements.

    I’m not sure yet if I am a perfect fit to be a pure social networking strategist, but I know one thing, I am passionate about this medium and the concept of the social web to build trust.

    Being a 20 year veteran in marketing products and services for small to medium suzed business, I am definately one of the wannabe’s in this field. But do I have what it takes and does the corporate world want what I offer?

    Finding a company who is willing to embrace change and hire a web strategist like me is no easy task. I am located in the epicenter of north american oil and gas movelment, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I live in the land of oil and gas behemouths like Encana. These are old school business models and very established marketers. Social media is extremely alien to them as they dont even communicate well with each other.

    Seth Godin’s writes in his book “Tribes” about how big business is programmed to suppresses change. Social networking is a “tribal development” concept, the opposite of stability, social networking is perceived as anarchist. Since social tribes are such “rogues” these businesses will obviously have a difficult time even accepting the idea, not to mention embracing it.

    It could be my job to bridge the knowledge gap, influence key decision makers in the origanization to change the structure of their monarchy. This is akin to toppling the king and court of the castle.

    I am struggling to figure this one out. Jeremiah, how were your experiences out here in Calgary, back in June?

    Meanwhile I am casting my employment/contract net very wide. Hoping to grab some interest in up-and-comer companies in the mid sized bracket.

    The quest continues.

    Kersten Kloss
    Business Consultant – Web Strategy
    Refreshed IT, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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  • http://www.facebook.com/gentilema Matt Gentile

    Great post Jeremiah, as usual. I have this discussion a lot as we are in the midst of an intensive RFP process to identify strategic partners for work in the PR and Social Media arena. Our business goals are directly tied to our marketing and it is a challenge to tie all the loose ends between technology, social media and marketing. I’m sure every corporate is doing it differently. I’m sure the case studies are being written as I type this post about how social media is being used to drive business results with relevant metrics and quantifiable results, but I feel as though we are REALLY living in the now with this effort. It is very exciting to see the how the utilization of social media to drive leads and conversions in our business and in other industries plays out. If I had to describe the perfect social media resource the candidate would have the ability to write, message, understand front and backend of our .com interface and have enough business acquity to blend the disciplines.
    Maybe these skillsets will become more the norm in a post Web 2.0 world, but as of now, I believe this particular set of skill sets are unique and highly valued. You may have great technology skills, but may not be able to write a sentence or be a master marketer, but have no idea how lead generation moves down the funnel from the online lead to a call center or lead management system. Very exciting time to be tech-savvy with great marketing skills. I think these folks can write their own ticket for the next three to five years. Like a needle in a haystack for recruiters right now.

    Thanks again,

    Matt Gentile, Director of PR and Brand Communication.
    Century 21 Real Estate

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Matt

    Let me know how it goes, would be interested in knowing your experience. Feel free to email me, jeremiah_owyang@yahoo.com

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  • http://www.matixu.com Nathan Maguire

    This is very true. Be a Digital Strategist first, be a Social Media Strategist second.

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  • http://www.digitalstrategist.ca Silu Modi

    Getting a potential candidate to describe how social media would help a company can yield some good fodder for decision. It’s interesting to hear whether they talk about number of followers or number of hits, number of fans, etc. first. Those are the ‘power-users’ talking, not the strategists. Those are the measurements they use.

    The strategist will talk about business goals, ROI, building influence and trust, engagement.

    Is it better to have 200 followers on Twitter, or 2,000? To me, the right answer is, “I don’t know… it depends on who those 200 people are.”

  • http://www.twitter.com/cpechayco Christine Pechayco

    Wow! Speaking as a social media practitioner for a corporation, your assessment is on target. A social media role is often a holistic one – the kind that requires both strategic vision and tactical skills, as well as effective communication and technical abilities. Often though, recruiters and employers (perhaps due to their own lack of understanding of the field) only focus on the minutiae of technology/web applications.

    I’ve been fortunate to have begun my career in traditional marketing (strategy, print, advertising, design and communications). But because of my interest in Web marketing, which began roughly 12 years ago, I’ve been able to “design” my own career path.

    Today, in addition to touching social media, I also manage the company’s Intranet efforts, and Web marketing. You could say that your writeup resonates with me.

    Keep up the great work and congrats on your new adventure!

  • http://cisco.com Brian Ellefritz

    As always, thorough and succinct, Jeremiah. I would add portfolio of change management activities behind the ideal candidate particularly if they are going to be in a leadership role. Every marketing discipline is being morphed by social media and each is edging over onto the next. Someone comfortable with evolving the social media function with these shifting boundaries and roles would be better positioned for success.

    I particularly liked the point you made about customer advocacy and the balance between audience and internal stakeholders. If this role is in marketing, customer advocacy hasn’t traditionally been our manta at least in high tech, we’ve left that role to service and sales but it emerges big time with social media.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon.

  • http://www.dahlism.com Dahlism

    These are great points and a must read for all HR recruiters and heads who typically apply new media descriptions and standard communications job descriptions to social media jobs.

    It’s vital the hire have a very clean online reputation and understand they will be charged with molding the reputation of the company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.duchesne Andy Duchesne

    How does one know if a Social Media Job is for them. I am looking to change careers, I was originally trained in Media Arts, and have spent many hours, editing, audio, video etc, I moved into computers in the 90′s and have been the lead in getting my current company where I work up to speed on today’s social media technologies and policies….but, I hate what I do, and want to be a part of the Social Media Realm…How do I know I am right for it, or how do I get there?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/keesromkes Kees Romkes

    Really like the post and to identify myself with these “qualities”. Next thing is positioning yourself as just that, and finding businesses that really “need” you. It only seems fit -right now- to do that as a free agent.

    As mentioned earlier, one thing is fundamental, being able to translate technical possibilities, human behaviour and impact (or experience, motivation, design, lots of container words for that) to something understandable for the “major” group of stakeholders.

  • http://pedrolaboy.com Pedro Laboy

    Right on the money, Jeremiah. Having a Facebook page and 200 followers on Twitter does not make someone a social expert.

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  • http://www.oldschoolventures.com/ Lou Sagar

    Companies and team leaders need to insure that the vision and mission statements of the Company are updated and aligned with the emergence of the social web. Unqualified applicants will likely not care much. Qualified applicants will show enormous interest and I think a good tip that you have a good candidate. Since social media
    is transformative, and trans-organizational…this is key to finding
    qualified applicants where there is an enormous talent shortage on
    the front lines.

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  • http://twitter.com/javieryepgarcia javieryepgarcia

    Uhm, good post, that's ok. but what about you born with these qualities? I am seeing so many people using facebook and twitter these days trying to advertise their company's services and products… but they just keeping failing all the time. What about, the main quality you must have is being a real born to kill marketer/sales person?.. ouch! :)
    I work alone, I work for many clients and I don't need to send my resume to any recruiter anymore, thanks to my work (thanks God too)… many times those recruiters, they don't even know what they want :)
    Many times I have been tempted to accept positions in SEO companies, but they are simply dreaming, really.
    Also as a freelancer, I have refused so many projects about SEO services, because simply the website/company owner wanted the results by the next week believing that the SEO work is just a 1 week/month work…. in those cases, I just show them the door to leave :)

    Javier Yep Garcia
    Technology Manager, Online Marketing & SEO/SMM Expert
    http://www.javieryep.com

  • http://twitter.com/javieryepgarcia javieryepgarcia

    Uhm, good post, that's ok. but what about you born with these qualities? I am seeing so many people using facebook and twitter these days trying to advertise their company's services and products… but they just keeping failing all the time. What about, the main quality you must have is being a real born to kill marketer/sales person?.. ouch! :)
    I work alone, I work for many clients and I don't need to send my resume to any recruiter anymore, thanks to my work (thanks God too)… many times those recruiters, they don't even know what they want :)
    Many times I have been tempted to accept positions in SEO companies, but they are simply dreaming, really.
    Also as a freelancer, I have refused so many projects about SEO services, because simply the website/company owner wanted the results by the next week believing that the SEO work is just a 1 week/month work…. in those cases, I just show them the door to leave :)

    Javier Yep Garcia
    Technology Manager, Online Marketing & SEO/SMM Expert
    http://www.javieryep.com

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  • Noah6101889

    4. Make really ambiguous statements.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-McBride/663625921 Bill McBride

    wow. that post can only be described as ‘douchey’