How to Find Your Dream Job in Social Media

Recently, I participated in a panel discussion on social media with my industry peers. During the Q&A, one of the questions from an audience member was that social media seems to have left behind an entire generation of professionals and if there was any advice for folks who want to enter this field.

My response to folks, who are feeling left out of the social media space and/or are looking for that next opportunity, is that all’s not lost and many of their current skills can be very valuable in this space.  As social media has evolved, it is becoming very apparent that it’s more than just  Facebooking and tweeting all day long (although many roles still have this as a requirement).   I’ve described the evolution of social media roles in a previous blog post, where many of the emerging roles  in social media require solid experience in one or more of these traditional areas such as community management, customer engagement, and marketing/PR communications.

While anyone can start a blog, it’s not a novelty any more and not everyone can have a hit blog as it’s considerably more competitive than it was in the early days of blogging. All successful bloggers have to be good communicators. It doesn’t matter if you have great subject matter expertise because if you can’t translate that expertise into a lucid post that your customers understand, then you won’t be effective as a blogger.

Also, placing someone with zero customer/community management experience in a customer-facing role on a social network,  is a huge risk. As social media evolves you need folks who can keep their calm on the social networking sites when faced with a hostile audience and that’s where having solid community management or customer support experience is invaluable.

Other hot skill sets in this space are in search, analytics and operations. What’s often forgotten in social media is the ability to work with large volumes of social content ie. data. There is a critical need for professionals with strong analytical skills in the social media space to help businesses derive meaningful insights from their social media content and activities. In addition, with the increasing relevant of social content in search results, the strong SEO skills are more valuable than ever in this space.

Last but not the least, as social media adoption grows across companies, there is a demand need for folks who understand how to scale their social media efforts across market segments and geographies. In addition, the ability to tie all the social media activities together and integrating into existing sales, support, CRM systems is also growing in demand.

That being said, social media career success not only requires a solid background but given the fast pace of evolution in this space, it’s an absolute must to have an open mind and passion for constant learning. Hope you find this information useful as you embark on the search for your next big opportunity in the social media space.

Thoughts on work, life, and layoffs

Layoffs are in the news and on everyone’s mind these days. Techcrunch’s tracking the numbers, Robert Scoble’s tweeting about it, Jeremiah Owyang’s blogging  about it, so I was inspired to chronicle my thoughts on the current downturn and layoffs, in general:

#1 It’s not you, it’s the company: Remember that layoffs are a business decision and do NOT let your company’s dismal performance undermine your confidence. A senior manager I admire greatly once said, “If your work is not appreciated by the company, do you still want to continue doing it?’ If you’ve been laid off, think of it as a opportunity to do work that’s meaningful and more importantly, appreciated. Nothing is more demotivating and demoralizing than  working on projects that get killed or never see light of day.

I disagree with folks who think being laid off has some sort of stigma attached to it. How can anyone believe that millions of laid off workers are all somehow incompetent? I know someone who got laid off within 4wks of being hired, as part of a major restructuring at a tech company. I also know folks who got rehired at other companies within weeks of getting laid off and some got rehired at the same company in a different group.

I know plenty of talented people who went to their management asking for a package to leave because it was too depressing to stay, but they didn’t get the deal so consider yourself lucky. Companies don’t always know what they’re doing and will have to do a lot of work to build morale  and foster loyalty in the aftermath of these massive layoffs. 

#2 Get over it and get out there: That’s nothing more tacky than badmouthing your old employer, it makes you look immature and disgruntled. Life’s not fair, get over it! Don’t sit around griping and complaining to everyone who’ll listen. Don’t over-analyze and don’t waste your time trying to figure out ‘Why me?’ Firstly, it’s unproductive and secondly, it doesn’t matter any more. It’s over, the deed is done, focus your energy in finding that next opportunity.  

The most important thing you can do once you’ve been laid off is to get out there and network. Yes, it is difficult and you probably cringe every time anyone asks you what you do. You don’t have to shout it out from rooftops that you’ve been laid-off, but make sure you have a compelling story to explain your ‘job transition’. Use networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to show off your expertise and knowledge. Answer questions, offer to help folks with their business problem, start a blog or set up a website where you can refer folks who want to know more about you.

# 3 Keep your chin up:Don’t let the news of massive layoffs get you down. Remember this – there’s still work to be done and companies need good people. Make sure you’re expanding your search beyond full-time jobs. Contracting is a great way to get your foot in the door and while you’re exploring different options, why not start your own company? Saying you’re self-employed is so much more positive than saying you’re unemployed.

I had lunch with a friend whose company recently got funded and now they have enough cashflow to keep them afloat through the downturn. There are plenty of qualified people out there who are looking to change the world and who knows, they might actually succeed. Check out my Twitter feed 0f opportunities from a Bay Area Girl Geeks dinner, going to these small  events is very energizing and you find many pockets of opportunities once you’re out there.

#4 What doesn’t kill you…: I remember a good friend of mine who went through a messy divorce, got laid off, was facing bankruptcy and the last straw was when his car broke down on way to a job interview. He completely lost it that day but piece by piece, he managed to put his life together again. We all have it in us and we’re more resilient than we think, but it often takes a catastrophe or adversity to bring out the best in us. You may look back on this some day and think that perhaps this was the best thing to ever happen to you.

Use this downtime to upgrade your skills and position yourself for that next great opportunity. I loved hearing from an ex-colleague Roderick Jefferson, a consummate go-getter who is using this transition time as an opportunity to help other folks as a career coach and he also started his own training/consulting company. If you or your company are looking for a great sales/product marketing/technical training firm, you can get in touch with Roderick at www.premierbusinessstrategies.com.

#5 There’s more to life than work: I loathe those cheesy commercials where they’re trying to convince you that losing your job is a good thing. I am not going to sugarcoat this – it sucks to lose your job especially when you’re doing a great job and you don’t have a say in the decision. But you have  to admit the downtime gives you plenty of time to reflect on whats most important in your life ie. your health, your family, your sanity. 

Going through a bad patch kills bad relationships and makes strong relationships stronger. You’ll find out who your real  friends are and who were just along for the ride. The stress from a bad job would have killed you sooner rather than later, but now you’ll probably live longer and enjoy time with people who really care about you and whom you care about.

Lastly, once you get that job or opportunity you’re looking for, make a note to yourself that you’ll NEVER forget what you went through. If you’ve been laid off once, it may happen again. You have to keep your skills fresh and don’t assume that just because you have a job, you can get complacent. Someone once told me, ‘The day you find a job, start looking for your next one.’  That may sound harsh but on the day you get the news, you’ll wish you had taken this advice more seriously.

Downturn helps LinkedIn growth

Not so long ago, I questioned the decreasing relevancy of LinkedIn in a Facebook world, but I think the recent downturn works in favor of this highly popular professional networking site. Given that folks are most likely to update their profiles when they are in career transition, it isn’t surprising to see a flurry of activity following the recent round of layoffs.

According to Compete.com, unique visitors to the site has gone up by nearly 182%, while the number of visits has gone up by 205% since last  year. As recent as last month, unique visits went up by 10%. It looks like the site is seeing a good uptick in user traffic and increasing user engagement during this downturn.

It’s challenging to add new interesting and enagaging features to a professional site, while social sites can load up on the cutesy features much more easily but I think LinkedIn is definitely going about it the right way.

I especially liked the introduction of ‘Companies’ (still in beta), which is very interesting and relevant for jobseekers. However, it’s still clunky and needs refining to make it easier to navigate. ’Answers’ and ’Groups’ add more stickiness to the site, but I think the site could benefit from more career-related rich content.

It’s about the only credible professional site out there so that definitely helps its popularity, but UGC can only take you so far. Adding more relevant career-related content may get the users to keep coming back even when the economy is not in a downturn.