Social media seems to have taken over just about every other aspect of our lives, why not jobs? The demand for social media jobs has virtually exploded, up some 600% according to one job site. Some industry observers say it all could be happening too much too fast to last.
Even with unemployment nearing 10%, one of the sectors that is sprouting jobs is social media. A recent study published by SocialMediaInfluence.com shows that 59 of the Fortune 100 companies have at least one employee who works full time in social media.
It adds that job postings directly related to social media have soared 600% in the last five years.
Working with the job site Indeed.com. the Social Media Influence report researched online job listings. It found more than 21,000 postings related to social media. In 2005, that number was in the low thousands.
Curtis Hougland, founder of the New York-based marketing and social media firm Attention, warns that just as social media hiring has picked up, the pool of qualified talent has failed to keep pace and the resulting imbalance of supply and demand is a sign of hiring inflation.
Hougland says that demand for social media skills in the corporate world has outstripped the supply of candidates with training in communications and the analytical skills to track the effectiveness of a media campaign. He says this void has been filled by a burgeoning workforce of self-proclaimed social media experts, some of whom are qualified, but many are not.
Hiring for social media jobs started picking up steam in about 2005, though it still constitutes only a small percentage of overall post-college job placements. New York University's Trudy Steinfeld, director of the university's office of career services, says only a few students, 1 to 2%, take jobs in social media specifically, but that those numbers have been increasing.
She says more often, companies looking to fill social media jobs, actually look even younger, asking student interns to chart their new media course. That can be a dangerous strategy, says Bernhard Warner, director of Custom Communication, the London-based consultancy that publishes Social Media Influence.
That hasn't stopped recent graduates from adding Facebook and Foursquare to the skills section of their resumes. Nor has it stopped colleges from promoting social media classes or even adding a Master's degree in social media.
There are several levels of expertise within the social media profession. Some of the more common positions include the community manager - who oversee a company's online communities; the analyst or strategist -- who builds and monitors social media campaigns; the product developer -- who is responsible for keeping the company's software up to date; the editor or publisher -- who oversees content and the brand; and the executive -- a rare position, usually filled by a public relations professional.
Typically, companies hire some combination of these positions. The field also stays along the edges of customer service, IT, public relations, marketing and sales, according to the Social Media Influence report.
It can be hard to separate those with legitimate qualifications for a social media manager from those who pretend to have the appropriate skills. It presents a serious challenge for hiring managers, especially those unfamiliar with social media. In a field less than five years old, can anyone claim to be an expert?
And then there's the question, how long will this last. Social media careers may not even exist 10 years from now. After all, isn't social media evolving into a skill set, not a profession?
Remember the dot-com boom-and-bust? After the bubble burst, Internet companies were left with an oversupply of programmers, which had been the hot job of the day. But you rarely hear about programmers going hungry.