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What to Look for When Hiring a Social Media Specialist

Posted by Eric Friedman

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In 2011, the Social Media Specialist became the top job in demand. Most of these jobs were never thought of or even existed only five years before. According to Social Media Influence, job listings for social media positions has increased nearly 600% in the last five years. And according to a survey conducted by CMO.com, Internet skills are now the most sought-after abilities in social media and marketing hires. The demand for these jobs is at an all-time high and continues to grow rapidly every year.

How exactly do you hire for this position? With everyone calling themselves a “social media expert,” it’s hard to figure out who exactly is an expert and who really knows what they’re doing. Here are a few things to look for when making your next hire.

Look at their Current Following

A good candidate normally has a following, even if they aren’t working directly in a social media position. When looking for the best social media specialist, you obviously want to check out all of their social profiles. See what type of information they’re sharing with their friends and followers. If they’re posting drunken pictures as opposed to news about current trends and information, they’re probably not a good fit. As a social media personality, your candidate will not be able to switch back and forth from personal to business—it all has to hold together in order to be effective.

Proven Expertise

Most recruiters take a look at hypothetical and situational experiences by asking “what would you do if…” questions. But to hire a social media specialist effectively, you have to ask about what they’ve done. The best way to tell if they’ve actually done something noteworthy is to listen to how they describe their accomplishments. We live in the age of analytics, and if candidates aren’t able to describe their accomplishments with hard figures, you might want to think twice about hiring them. Get rid of the hypothetical situations and push them to name real situations where issues have arisen and what they specifically did to fix the problem at hand. This is an essential hiring technique to use when hiring for this position.

Spot Check

The spot check is where you ask a question related to social media, something that is trending right now, and get their viewpoint on a subject. When hiring for a similar position, I asked a candidate about QR codes and how they thought we’d be able to best utilize them for our business purposes. Putting candidates on the spot with questions related to trending topics allows you to get a better sense of whether they’re really following the trends in the space. If they’re not, you should look elsewhere for your social media superstar.

Check Their Past Work

If they’ve worked in the space, you can get a good insight for how they interact and deal with problems if you actually follow their work. For instance if you’re hiring someone who runs another company’s social profiles, go check them out. Look at the frequency of posts, the quality of posts, any type of grammatical errors, and the tone they use on social media. This will not only give you insight into their work, it will tell you about their personality.

This position, albeit not a C-level one, or the person who will map out your company’s future, is the first image people get when they look at your company. Essentially, this position is the face of your company. Making a smart hire here will help your company in more ways than one. Using these tips and tricks when hiring your next social media specialist will give you a deeper insight into their personality, and of how good a fit they are for your company as a whole.

Improving Your Recruitment Strategies with Social Media

With millions of daily users, social media opens a whole new world of recruitment opportunities and offers unique ways to directly source, recruit, and hire candidates. If you want to stay abreast of the times, you need to learn and apply social recruiting strategies as soon as possible.

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About Eric Friedman

Author

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.

7 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Matt Coleman June, 03, 2013

    My strategy while hiring a social media specialist is not only listening to what the candidate has accomplished but assessing the way they’re describing their accomplishments and/or their previous jobs. If they’re passionate about what they’ve done – it makes 80 % of the right candidate.

  • Tracy Harris June, 04, 2013

    I totally agree about passion being the key factor in social media sphere. Passion is contagious! Moreover, people can feel when you don’t really care about what you’re doing, so if you don’t care why should they?

  • Crystal Collier June, 06, 2013

    Passion is vital – can’t argue. But you can’t just hire a young person with twinkle in their eyes and a Facebook account to represent your company! Make sure they’re at least aware of what’s going on in the world of social media

  • Jim Mitchell June, 07, 2013

    Social media specialist should be a born leader and conversationalist. Naturally they must be good at the language and etiquette of social media, not undermining grammar, spelling and punctuation. No one wants to distinguish oneself as semi-literate!

  • Connie Gillis June, 09, 2013

    I would also mark the knowledge of social media tools as necessary, but only as a complement to communication competence.

  • Doug Sarmat June, 10, 2013

    Just like with any new jobs that are on demand due to technological advancement, it’s hard for HR recruiters to thoroughly assess somebody’s social media skills. There is not still a spot on job description, and most of the pros in this domain are hard to asses by regular means. Thank you for shedding a bit of a light on how to spot the right social media professional.

  • Ira June, 13, 2013

    I specifically liked the part where you say you should ask a social media specialist for hard numbers on what they did. It’s always the best way for a recruiter to be able to assess a person’s abilities, by asking them to describe their achievements AND provide the numbers to support those achievements.

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Guest June, 13, 2013