I was interviewed for a story on iMedia Connection back in July of 2010, where I shared my thoughts on the quality of the social media workforce. The piece, written by Michael Estrin, was called “Is a social media bubble ready to burst?” I took a look back at that piece yesterday and read through my comments. Despite the fact that they are three years and five-months old, there is still some truth there, particularly as it relates to hiring managers. Here is what I was thinking on that topic back then:
“The quality of the social media workforce is a direct reflection on the hiring managers, who in many cases have no idea what skills are needed for this emerging role,” says Angela Connor, social media manager at Capstrat. “When the role isn’t clearly understood or well-defined, hiring mistakes are unavoidable. There’s a growing list of people with titles like social media strategist who have never developed any kinds of strategies in their entire career. They know enough about social media to talk themselves into a position that has no real objectives or success metrics and three months in, everyone is miserable.”
Wow. I think that still rings true today in some respect. Many hiring managers don’t know what they’re looking for, and others just don’t know what they need – which makes it even worse. We are no longer in the early days of social, and those who haven’t yet defined it, need to get there fast. Another factor is highlighted in a recent report by the Online Marketing Institute which highlights a shortage of talent and skills in today’s market when it comes to digital and social. As a hiring manager myself, I can certainly attest to that.
But again, because some people land jobs they aren’t necessarily qualified for, due to their own ability to get in under the radar, or because the hiring manager didn’t know how to do their due diligence during the vetting and hiring process, they build depth on their resumes that can leads to serious assumptions about their skill set. Here’s a bit more from that post back in 2010:
According to Connor, a big part of what’s driving social media to staff up with a less-than-qualified workforce is the misguided belief that millennials are somehow social media ninjas by birth. The result, Connor says, is that agencies and brands place more responsibility in the hands of their interns than they should.
But Connor isn’t fully convinced that blind faith in millennials means there’s a bubble. Or, at least, she’s not fully convinced that the bubble will burst with devastating effect. According to Connor, the first generation of social media workers (those who began working in the field when nobody was talking about social media) are moving up in the world, and that’s a good thing. “If these individuals stay true to what they know, maintain a high-level view of both social media and its potential, and continue to be students of the craft, they will set the bar high and make a real difference,” Connor says.
So what’s your perspective?