Social media is a rapidly growing career choice for young professionals and recent college graduates. It sounds sexy, after all. Many people will be impressed that you pay your mortgage with an activity that they pursue for fun and convenience.
However, a career in social media involves much more than having personal experience on Twitter and Facebook. It requires expertise in many facets of business, including human relationships, communication, marketing, internet technologies, customer service and more.
A few of the daily responsibilities might include:
This wide variety of necessary skills draws candidates from many different professional and educational backgrounds to the field. Recruiters often have trouble finding qualified candidates who meet the criteria required to fill the role.
If you want to start a career in social media, but haven't been able to get your foot into the door, consider these five ways for making yourself a more attractive candidate for the job:
1. Get an internship
Internships are a great way not only to get experience in your field but also to show your skills and attitude to the organization that offers it. While you may not have the opportunity to make strategic decisions or post to a single social media account, you can display your willingness to work as a team player and to learn from people more experienced than you. The way you carry yourself may determine whether or not the organization offers you a job.
2. Take initiative
If your organization does not participate in social media, ask your manager if you can reserve the usernames for your business and begin posting to the accounts. This is exactly what I did five years ago, before any social media positions existed in my organization. Two years later, I was offered our first full-time social position. I still manage our flagship accounts. If I didn't ask a simple question, I would still be a web designer today. Take initiative and you may find yourself with a social media position that didn't previously exist.
3. Create opportunities for yourself
Every day you come across a small business who could benefit from your knowledge of the Internet. Surprising as it may be, some of them don't even know how to open their web browser. If you can help them understand how connecting with customers online could impact their business, they may give you a shot at creating a strategy and managing their social media activities. Bring a proposal to them during their slow hours and explain to them what you can do and how it will help their business. If you get turned down, keep trying with other small businesses. Once you find someone willing to give you a shot, write up a contract, agree upon the terms and use your skills to help a small business grow. Give your newfound consulting business a name and put it on your resume. Repeat this process until you have enough customers and success to make the jump to a full-time position within a large organization.
4. Share your expertise
It's easy to say that you know a lot about social media. But can you prove it? Recruiters and hiring managers will see through lip-service. They want to know that you have the skills to survive in the world of business. If you have knowledge about best practices and stratigic ideas for organizational social media, share them on a blog. Sure, social media blogs are a dime a dozen. But if you aren't writing one, you can't easily prove how much you know. Blogging is also a great way to exhibit your writing skills, which many social media positions require.
5. Relocate to a large metropolitan area
Most social media positions are located in large cities where organizations are headquartered or have regional offices. If there are qualified local candidates, they are much more likely to be hired than someone who requires a relocation package. If you are in a small town or city that isn't growing, look for a position you are qualified for in any field and make a move to a larger city. Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are home to many organizations that freqently have openings for social media professionals. Check current job openings to see if a city near you has several opportunities.
Be Patient and Network with Others
Searching for a job is a painstaking process. Developing skills and gaining the experience necessary for any new career takes a lot of time. Be patient with yourself and try not to get frustrated. Attend local social media events as often as you can and network with social media professionals. You may feel out of place, but your presence and interest in the field may speak loudly enough for some people to remember your name when a position is available.