Do social media applicants who ‘have it all’ exist?

Are companies unrealistic when hiring for social media? This PR pro weighs in.

Does this sound familiar?

Seeking social media rock star with five to seven years of experience in digital marketing, including community management, analytics, and digital strategy. Candidate should be a fantastic writer with a sense for content that resonates with key audiences. Candidate should have a background in PR and marketing, agency experience, strong organizational skills, and an insatiable curiosity to explore new tools and technologies in social media.

If this sounds like you, please email John Johnson at XYZ company today.

OK, so I had a little fun with that, but you get the idea.

Due to my work with Help a PR Pro Out (HAPPO) and as a solo consultant (read: not connected with an agency or corporation), I get all sorts of requests from friends and colleagues to help them identify candidates.

In some cases, I’m able to help. Other times I’m not. But one trend has emerged in the last year: Companies seem to have relatively unrealistic expectations about candidates when it comes to social media/digital marketing.

Just look at the fictional job description above—community management experience, analytics expert, and an exceptional writer. How many people do you know who have all those skills?

Most writers hate math. That may be changing a bit, and there are a few who have an analytics mindset, but those people are in high demand right now, and they’re a good three to five years ahead of the hiring curve.

You can find community managers, no doubt. But, community managers aren’t necessarily the best writers. Is that a realistic skill combination? I’m not so sure.

Part of the problem is companies are either greedy with an “I want it all” mentality, or a little clueless. I’ve noticed both. They want the social media “unicorn.”

Or, they simply don’t know what they don’t know. In that case, you get job descriptions similar to the one above. Also, it still is relatively early in the social media life cycle, so many companies are still figuring out how to hire for this evolving discipline.

What do you think? Are companies unrealistic in their social media hires? Do you think this will improve in the years ahead?

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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