I’ve made a long and lucrative career in social media.
I have autonomy. I have flexibility. I am supported and trusted by my employers. I am appreciated by my teammates. I’ve secured speaking engagements, awards, and I have a solid body of work to show for myself, both professionally and personally. I enjoy what I do, and it’s fulfilling. It’s taken an incredible amount of knowledge, experience, and dedication — trial and error, sweat, stress and some tears — to get to where I am today. And I’m STILL learning!
To the outside observer, a career in social media may sound like fun and games. But it’s MUCH more than creative Instagram campaigns or pithy Twitter exchanges. It’s fan engagement. It’s customer experience. It’s crisis monitoring. It’s influencer marketing. It’s policy and process. There are strategies, goals, tactics, and metrics of success. And social media by trade is often misunderstood by old-school business leadership, family members, the general public, and even colleagues. It can be really challenging!
You’ve reached out to me asking how to break into social media and/or health care marketing. And I so appreciate the opportunity to be a mentor to others… so here are my thoughts. But first, guys, it wasn’t easy to get to where I am today. There is no magic turnkey solution or perfect resume template. I’ve worked my butt off to get here, and my career path was not linear. More on that here.
Be a triple threat.
You need 1) hands-on experience, 2) education, and 3) a well-written resume and interview prowess.
Piece of cake, right?? Ha.
As much as I appreciate your confidence, landing an awesome, professional, well-paying job in social media will take more than a couple coaching sessions or reading my career-related blog posts. 😝 It takes work!
⭐️ First, get some hands-on experience by learning to do it yourself. Take photographs. Write for social. Try livestreaming. Produce and edit videos. Start a blog. If you are not able to create content around the subject you’re most knowledgeable about — yourself, your life, and your passions — how do you expect to do it on behalf of a company? Learn the different platforms. Try different formats. Experiment. PLAY. And even if you practice all day, all night… you will not become an expert immediately. When I shot my first YouTube video for my channel three years ago, I already had experience. (I had been on-air in the Phoenix news market for two years, and Facebook-Live-ing to the tune of a million viewers on a national retailers’ brand page.) And still, I’m the first to say I’m nowhere near great or truly comfortable at this!
Practice what you’re preaching, ya’ll. When an interviewer for your dream job asks, “What’s your favorite social media platform, and why?” be ready — with an answer, and examples! Tip: If you’re not proficient enough yet to land a paying gig, or perhaps don’t have a lot to say personally, volunteer to take on social media at a local business or church that could use the exposure.
⭐️ Yes, experience is one key piece. But personal social media know-how is not all there is. In the absence of professional experience, this is where education — formal, or most likely not — comes in. What podcasts are you listening to? What books are you reading? What courses can you take? There is so much content out there for aspiring marketers and communicators — so many educators out there who are sharing the craft on their various channels and mediums for free — that there really is no excuse. If you need a place to start, try the podcast and/or website Social Media Examiner and the book The New Rules of Marketing & PR, must-read info as I was transitioning from web content into social media back in 2013. Maybe you haven’t used these strategies yet yourself, but if in your interview you can demonstrate your understanding of the tactics and the thought process around each, you’re a step ahead…
⭐️ A well-written resume is key. A resume is not only a summary of your skills, areas of expertise, and job history, it is a reflection of you. If there is poor formatting, spelling mistakes, or if the details are few or not relevant, you will automatically be dismissed. 99% of the time, you won’t even get a shot at an interview. The good news is, there is a ton of DIY resume guidance on the web by industry. For full-service, hire a resume writer. It’s fairly affordable and definitely worth it, if you’re in need of a total rehaul / it’s been a while since you touched your resume.
So… your experience, education, and resume got you a foot in the door, now comes the interview. Practice the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. You should have 5-6 examples on the tip of your tongue to answer most interview questions. Choose examples that best match the job you’re interviewing for, write it all down, and practice with a friend!
Bonus tip 4)… work your network!
⭐️ Tap your network! You’re not the only person in the world who has ever been unemployed or underemployed — especially now, given the economic fallout from the pandemic — and I myself have been laid off twice in my professional career. Even though it can feel demoralizing or embarrassing to be in this situation, other people in your network have been there. So it’s highly likely they are willing to help! Look to see what opportunities are out there that suit you, and tap those individuals for help connecting with the hiring manager or recruiter.
The job search is hard!! I’ve been there and I get it. Hang in there — all you can do it continue to educate yourself and get experience where you can. Suggestions or additional feedback? Leave a comment below… and good luck with the job search!