I can’t believe it’s been two years since I graduated and that I’m on the other side of the hiring table. I spent most of last Friday digging through dozens of resumes, finally finding a couple of talented folks I wanted to chat with for a social media coordinator/intern position.

It made me think a lot about what social media means to me, who I was when I graduated in 2009 and what I’d look for in an entry-level social media hire, or any social media hire for any level. I’d say I try my best to practice what I preach on these, and here are some qualities that I think are important.

1. Social Media Presence

I’m hiring at the entry-level. It’s important to me that this person has a blog, an active Twitter account and a LinkedIn. I Googled a lot of names and it surprised me how few applicants ranked for their names in the results.

I’m somewhat of a blogging slacker here at Social Rant (busy guest posting and building a startup) but I still rank for Janet Aronica….

Yes, I was signed out of Gmail when I searched this. Let me know if you get different results so I can work on that!

When you have a couple of years of working experience, and if you were applying for a manager/director/specialist level position, it’s probably assumed you have a personal brand. However, if I was a hiring for that level of a position, I’d be more interested in seeing what results the candidate produced for a client or company.

Were you on the account team that ran the social media presence for a hotel? I’d be checking out that hotel’s Facebook page. I’d probably ask how the candidate measured the progress, what went well and what the candidate would do different. What you accomplished for a business would resonate most for me.

As far as your personal blog posts or Twitter followers, I’d check it out to see if you have a demonstrated interest in the space (and not to mention, make sure you weren’t Tweeting anything stupid) If you weren’t blogging every single day of every single week, I’d assume it was because you were too busy kicking butt for your company to be self-promotional.

I should screenshot more Tweets. Because one time, I saw Jason Keath from SocialFresh Tweet something that was pure genius and I wish I could quote him properly right now. He said something to the effect of: “You’ve never even heard of some of the smartest people in this industry because they are too busy getting things done to talk about themselves.” That about sums it up.

2. Phenomenal Writing Skills

Social media involves a lot of content creation and writing. Blogging, Tweeting, and Facebook page status-updating is all writing.

Take a look at Barbie’s Facebook page:

Glamping. That’s right. Glam-camping. A clever writer came up with that status and it’s hilarious.

This is why I want people to have a blog and read blogs. Blogging develops your voice as a writer. A strong writing voice helps you as a community manager or some type of social media person because people are drawn to your content – your blog posts, Tweets, Facebook page statuses, what have you. Reading helps you become a better writer you learn how other people use language.

Disciplines like PR, marketing and journalism tend to be very writing-heavy in their coursework. Not to say that all social media hires have to come from one of these majors, but these majors are more likely to introduce you to this space and bring you to an internship or extracurricular activity where you can build great writing skills.

3. Email Marketing Experience

I think that email is the glue that makes social media stick.

At some point you want this community, these Twitter followers and Facebook people, to come to your website and make a purchase. (Or come to your store, or download an app, or sign up for your event… whatever a conversion is for you.) Email is a way to re-engage them and keep them coming back. It comes down to making money as some point.

Like I’ve said before, social CRM is an exploding market, with recent investment for Sprout Social and aquisition for JitterJam and Bantam Live. Sure, there are sexier marketing tools than email. Q4 codes are sexy. So is location-based marketing.  But look: (only) 4% of Americans use location based services. Every single Facebook fan or Twitter follower has an email address. They couldn’t login otherwise!

We have tools that are attempting to connect email marketing and social media marketing. Why aren’t we aggressively looking for social media marketers to facilitate that strategy?

I’d love to see social media be taken seriously and tie itself to the actually business/sales process.  A marketing channel like email is a way to do it. This is probably trickier for an entry-level person to get experience in other than maybe using email (Mailchimp is free for a small list of subscribers) to promote an on-campus event or at an internship. However I think as social media marketers we should understand how email works.

4. Metrics-Driven Mentality

I’m trying to grow each day to be a more data-driven marketer. Numbers don’t lie, they unify teams and they motivate people.

Not many people know what to measure in social media. Also, not many people have time to dig into the analytics tools, understand the graphs and derive actionable insights. If you take initiative at your internship or job in this area, people will love you.

If you’re looking for a social media coordinator or internship gig somewhere, position yourself as a metrics-driven individual by running some metrics on your own Twitter account with one of the dozens of free analytics tools out there and do a blog post about it. Even if what you are doing is very basic measurement, you are demonstrating a working knowledge of what it’d take to move the needle. You’ll learn the more advanced analytics like share of voice or sentiment when you work with a real client.

While I’m on the metrics point, knowing SEO won’t hurt you either. Google Analytics is a free tool. Install it on your blog. Read the Tutorials. Learn and have fun. It’s addictive!

5. Coachable

“Coachability” isn’t a quality unique to social media, it’s just a quality of good employees. You want someone who can take feedback and who will grow in their position.

I love this post from the fabulous Early Stager blog that explains this concept of being “coachable.”

When you’re at Stage 1, you don’t know what you don’t know, but you think you’re doing awesome. (Some people aren’t coachable. They don’t take feedback and they never leave Stage 1.) You want 2’s and 3’s: people who know there are things they don’t know, so they are open to your feedback and want to learn. That’s how they get to Stage 4, where they’re ready for you to delegate. 2’s and 3’s grow with your company.

A good way to look for the “coachable” factor in the hiring process is by assigning a project during the hiring process. (I’m assigning a blog post and a Twitter metrics project to a few select candidates.) Then, you give feedback and see if they’ll change it. That’s what my friend Jason did to hire me and I’d say I’m one of those “open to feedback” types.

So there you have it. The five things I think you should look for in a social media hire. What other things would you look for?

12 Comments on 5 Qualities to Look for in a Social Media Hire

  1. Ian Gertler
    May 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm (6 years ago)

    Insightful and thought-provoking piece for anyone looking to add to their social media-focused teams … and from the statistics and trends out there, it’s a bunch of companies and organizations! In fact, I just read a Constant Contact survey (literally minutes ago) that reported nearly three-quarters of small businesses are doing social media marketing.

    The point about email is also incredibly important; it’s part of the “social sandbox” and will be for a very long time. Have a great week!


    • Anonymous
      May 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Ian! I feel like us social media hippie people don’t give email enough credit for being part of the social sandbox. I’m hoping to be part of the small group that does 🙂

  2. Susan Silver
    May 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm (6 years ago)

    I can see how I might be coming across as over confidant in my skills when applying for work. I know some stuff but their is much about marketing I need to learn.  Although I try my best to stay educated.  Thanks!

    • Anonymous
      May 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm (6 years ago)

      Oh you’re doing a great job Susan. And confidence is a great thing. There’s a balance… be confident in your current skills but hungry to learn more… never satisfied with the status quo. That’s how I try to be I guess. 

      • Susan Silver
        May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm (6 years ago)

        thanks for the encouragement 🙂 

  3. Jeff Turner
    May 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow thanks for the great blog post! I am a programmer so I am still new to this social media stuff. I’ll have to sign up for MailChimp and give it a try. I am also learning to write blogs and do video blogs. It’s been a fun month so far.

    • Anonymous
      May 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm (6 years ago)

      Welcome to my world 🙂 

    May 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm (6 years ago)


    Going through and hire interns right now – this post was extremely helpful (as was your email, thanks again for taking the time to do that :D). 

    I think it also helps if a potential intern/hire is passionate about social media – even if they have no particular experience. We all have to start somewhere! 🙂 Determining if someone is motivated and wants to be a good efficient pr pro, marketing pro, community manager, etc. I think is also important.

    All of these external links and resources have been incredibly helpful (I had no idea about Mail Chimp) so I hope you keep blogging and posting and using your experiences to help others as I know it has truly helped me in the way I conduct myself through social media.

    Thanks and hope things are well in Boston 😀


    • Anonymous
      May 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Mike! I’d have to say though… a great way to show your passion is by getting started in social media and building a social media presence 🙂

  5. Anonymous
    May 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm (6 years ago)

    Janet, this is a GREAT post with some really practical ideas in it!  After you read the ideas, they seem obvious, which really makes them great ideas…more people will use them that way!  Keep the great ideas coming!

  6. bob gualta
    June 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Janet,

    I’ll be interviewing applicants for a social media marketing position in the coming the days and your article is extremely helpful.

    I didn’t anticipate that email marketing experience is a plus but I will include it, thanks to your post.

    To add I am actually looking of someone with web analytics and seo background but with social media mindset. Someone who is passionate about content and how important it is to keep it interesting for target audience and keep them engaged. 

    I just bookmarked your site to my favorites. =D  

  7. social media
    July 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for the tips. I liked @twitter-35268041:disqus Michaelcoachability” the most. That is so true that many people stay on the same level and even don’t see that they have an opportunity to develop their skills and themselves. Although it is sad, on the other hand I have less competitors 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *