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PSSST! Want a dream social media job? These major brands tell us what you need...

Have you traipsed tirelessly across cities for a social media job to be told “sorry, you’re just not what we’re looking for right now”? Have you meticulously crafted the perfect LinkedIn profile, retweeted all of the right people, and emailed every CMO that you can find the details of? If you feel like you’ve tried just about everything to land that awesome social media role you’re desperate for, we’re here to help.

We spoke to senior social media professionals at a variety of major companies, who run social profiles of brands who have hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of social contacts across their networks. We wanted to uncover the vital skills, experiences, and strategic thinking that help them do their job, as well as what they look for when hiring people to join their team. Here are their top tips for getting your dream job in social media.

Demonstrate an understanding of the bigger picture

Being able to take great pictures, write witty Tweets, and be an expert at jumping on trends are all great skills. But if you can’t see the bigger picture in terms of how the channels work and how they’ll benefit the company then you may be usurped by someone who can.

"I would stress that in most corporations, social is expected to drive business results just as much as other marketing vehicles. Great social media managers understand that it's critical to have an overarching strategy for all platforms, and a voice for each of your channels so that social can make great contributions to your business.
Mary-Irene Marek, Social Media Manager, Toys “R” Us

Do your homework on the places you're applying for

Do you wake up sweating in the night wracked with the fear of being in a job interview without knowing a thing about the company? Better do something to stop that.

Don't come to an interview without researching the company! Find them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. Have a rough idea of the amount of followers they have on each account. If they aren't on a social platform ask why, offer ideas on things they could be doing, state what you think they're doing well and make sure you know who their competitors are.
Jennifer Hassan, Global Community Manager, Viber

Bring some ideas to the table

If you don’t show a company anything that you’d add to the team, you’re not giving them many reasons to hire you. You can never have too many constructive suggestions and questions regarding the brand’s social media presence.

Come up with ideas for how you could change a company’s social media. People in interviews are often far too nervous to be brutally honest with us, but having a clear head and no real insight in how to things operate inside a major company means you get the opportunity to really hear it from a customer’s point of view. It could be a weak platform, it could be a campaign that they hated, or how customer care is managed. I might not agree, or it might not comply with the business objectives, but knowing what they see as a missing link or an amazing blue sky idea can really help us. This information can lead us to foster new strategies or new ideas that really engage the customers, as well as making the candidate stand out. I'm all about the opinionated!
Sedge Beswick, Global Senior Social Media Manager, ASOS

When a social media job comes up that you’re interested in, sit down and try to work out what you would do for the company in your first month, within three months, and within six months. It’s a great way to get a coherent strategy to talk to the recruiter about, and will help you focus your attentions on the platforms and the type of content that will work for the particular business you want to be a part of.
Tim Love, Social Media Manager, Pizza Express

Bring the personality!

Remember that incredible brand page run by Captain Beige with his forgettably neutral statements and obvious observations about the weather? No, it doesn’t exist and nobody wants it to be their page.

All brands want their social media accounts to sound HUMAN. Bring a little sass (not too much Beyoncé - more like Kelly) to your interview. Don't be boring and don't play it safe! Any employer looking to hire a social media editor/manager is looking for someone who can curate their social feeds into shareable, clickable content that people can engage with.
Jennifer Hassan, Global Community Manager, Viber

Know what's happening in the industry

No brand wants to hire someone that's languishing behind the curve. Showing that your knowledge is fresh on all key social media topics and developments helps to give off the message that you’re someone who will get a brand ahead of its competitor on social media.

Social media is constantly changing and evolving, so you've got to enjoy it or else there's no point. To feed my curiosity I'd read a lot of blog posts about new features, changes in Facebook algorithms etc. Then I think it's important to establish people who you think have really nailed their social media, whether it's a brand or a person, and see what they're doing that’s working so well. And lastly, not fearing change or getting too dependent on one type of tool. Every time you change your social media manager job or join a new company you may be introduced to new tools whether it's for scheduling or analytics, so it's important to be adaptable.
Maggy Van Eijk, UK Social Media Editor, BuzzFeed

Set yourself apart from other candidates by demonstrating knowledge and understanding of social media. Keep up with tech news, subscribe for updates, follow writers and journalists so you don't miss a trick. Create lists on Twitter and read blogs such as Techcrunch to help expand your understanding - that way if asked a question about Twitter's newest feature, you're prepared to answer it and offer an opinion!
Jennifer Hassan, Global Community Manager, Viber

Research the company's style

If your go-to loquacious tendencies tend to bloviate within Shakespearian lexicon then it might not be on fleek for a brand reppin’ fresh urban youth. Or if you want that in English... learn the company’s style so that you would know what tone to aim for to appeal to their audience when communicating from their account.

When hiring for somebody in social for Paddy Power the most important thing we look for is that they understand the Paddy Power Tone of Voice. We try and hire strong all-rounders, you need to have technical skills but also be a talented copywriter. You can teach anybody the technical side of working in social, but not everyone has that innate sprinkling of mischief that we look for in Paddy Power.
Mícheál Nagle, Social Media Manager, Paddy Power


Polish your people skills

Working in social media means you may have to convey a mix of messages from people all across the company. So highlight how you are able to communicate with people effectively in real life, not just in 140 characters.

"You can get to have first-hand experience with the events and a lot of people who are integral to the company. Social media is really personal so we work really closely with our leaders or on projects in order to really understand them. You're on the front line and often the first person to hear about events, new initiatives and external matters which may affect the company. It's a great place to be to feel like you're really needed and have an effect on the way people see and perceive the company."
Sally Ashley-Cound, Global Social Media Relations, Ernst & Young

Get some social media marketing experience

Why would an aspirational billion-dollar brand hire you for social if you’ve shown no previous aptitude or obvious interest in it? Take opportunities to develop your skills and strategic thinking by helping out smaller businesses or brands.

The best way to prepare for a social media role is to execute on strategies for your own personal blog or friends’ small business. Through a successful personal Twitter account or promotion of a small business, you can demonstrate social media strategies and explain how you chose that strategy. Another alternative is to volunteer to support social media and internet / search marketing for a variety of local charities.This allows you to test marketing strategies and help your community at the same time. Even if the small business or charity has minimal or no budget for paid media, it’s a great investment to buy some Google, Bing, Twitter, or Facebook ads to test demographic targeting and conversions. Social media and internet marketing both offer easy routes to gain experience on your own. Passion for a topic or small business will help you to maximize your impact, gain real-life experience, and demonstrate results.
Andrew Davis, Social Media Reactive Team Lead, Xbox

The best bit of experience that I got before working in social media was to start a blog – it's now died, but having to constantly update a social channel, think of new and engaging ways to chat to an audience and then reactively look after all of the comments, taught me the basics before I even realised that social media was a profession.
Sedge Beswick, Global Senior Social Media Manager, ASOS

Show awareness of trends

See that ‘Discover’ tab on Twitter? It’s not just there to look pretty...

If you want to work in social you'll need to be able to identify digital trends like a boss. You should know what's trending worldwide and locally, every day. If you're interviewing for a job in social, you should know what's trending that morning. Working in social media requires you to recognise what people are talking about and how brands can use these to increase community engagement.
Jennifer Hassan, Global Community Manager, Viber

Know your platforms and be active on them

If you’re applying for a social media job, and you don’t have an interest in various platforms, and can’t prove regular activity, then you’re going to really struggle to convince anyone to hire you.

Social media is one of the most rewarding roles I've had in my career. My advice to anyone exploring a path in social is to always stay curious, and to experiment with emerging platforms, even those outside of social.
Mary-Irene Marek, Social Media Manager, Toys “R” Us

When hiring, I always look out for someone know has a general grasp of the social space so something like a social channel (even if it's just for personal use) that's well curated and updated, gets an immediate thumbs up from me.
Sedge Beswick, Global Senior Social Media Manager, ASOS


If you can’t strike up a conversation with someone in the industry, why would a brand let you loose on their millions of followers? Seek out the professionals, make a good impression, and learn as much from them as possible.

"It’s a tough industry to get into but persistence will get you everywhere, speak to as many industry professionals as you can find and, more than anything, try to enjoy learning about the weird and wonderful world of social media."
Tim Love, Social Media Manager, Pizza Express

Keeping these tips in mind will give you a greater chance of following in these professionals’ footsteps and climbing the career ladder to social media stardom. But one can never learn too much, if you’re a social media professional then we’d love to hear your advice for anyone wishing to succeed in the social media marketing industry.