social media

Are Social Media Skills More Important than a Degree?

Are Social Media Skills More Important than a Degree? 150 150 Kerry Butters

Conventional wisdom has it that, just by getting a degree you show you’re ready for the real world – having made it through three or four years of lectures, and completed something challenging.

Not these days, though.

Increasingly, what matters is getting degrees in fields requiring exact knowledge (like law, medicine, or engineering), or that leave you with an exact skill-set (like education, science, and sometimes business).


The Master’s Way

A master’s degree has a distinct way of preparing students for the working world. Postgraduate studies build on undergraduate skills like time management, self-discipline and working to deadlines.

Postgraduate study can also be about changing direction, or location – which can lead to greater employment opportunities.

The ultimate goal is to walk into the workplace as a professional, rather than a graduate or intern.

Internment, more like…

But, especially in the US, companies large and small are living off university students who’ll work for unpaid internship credits. Firms don’t really need to hire and pay for entry-level positions – which can cut graduates out of the mix, entirely. Why pay for recruits, when you don’t have to?

The sad fact is, when you graduate, you could be in the same position as someone who hasn’t gone to college and may – through their own experience and use of social media – be a better prospect than you are.

The Social Alternative

So, what kind of jobs can you walk into, and with which social media skills?

1. Marketing and Public Relations

  • Detail-oriented
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Project management
  • Self-starting/self-motivated
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Microsoft Office
  • Digital marketing
  • Product development/management
  • Business development

2. IT

  • Hypertext markup language (HTML)
  • Website development
  • JavaScript
  • Detail-oriented
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Oracle Java
  • Software development
  • Structured query language (SQL)
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Project management

3. Sales

  • Sales experience
  • Self-starting/self-motivated
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Microsoft Office
  • Work ethic
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Goal-oriented
  • Work independently
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Business development

4. Human Resources

  • Microsoft Office
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Sourcing strategies
  • Detail-oriented
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Applicant tracking software (ATS)
  • Self-starting/self-motivated
  • Project management
  • Organisational skills
  • Work independently


Getting the Skills

Natalie Burgwin, senior public relations manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has a hit list of skills to be applied across the social media board.

1. A sense of humour

Customers want to talk to real people, so posts should be fun and light-hearted, whenever possible. Even complaints can be handled with a little touch – if you’re clever about it.

2. Display common sense

Social media requires knowing how to handle a variety of interactions on different platforms. Don’t waste time and energy on stuff unrelated to your business. Know when to comment, and when not to.

3. Use filters

Think about how your messages could be interpreted by (diverse) others.

4. Grammar and style matter

Every message you send represents you, or your organisation. So, take the time to proof-read. And use a spell-checker. Strive to be topical, but not predictable.

5. Manage your time

Focus only on sites that fit your business best. And give them attention, every day.


Sell Yourself!

Here’s how to do just that:

1. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

  • Set up a good profile. It’s common for potential employers to check out your Facebook profile before they decide to interview you.
  • Manage your privacy settings. When an employer looks you up, they should see only your picture and some key information about you.
  • Make sure your photos show your best side. As in, no drunken revelry, or bunny costumes.
  • Maximise your number of Friends or Followers. Many marketing jobs need a Facebook media manager and will ask how many Facebook friends you have. Stay active and favour your friends’ Tweets, or like their Instagram photos.
  • Create a fan page, where relevant. Promote your talent or skill. Spread awareness about your work and update your fans.
  • Have an account. Avoid that awkward moment where potential employers ask for your Twitter or Instagram username, and you don’t have one.
  • Think before you Tweet. Keep it appropriate, even if your privacy settings are high.
  • Think before you post a photo.  (See “bunny costumes”, above)

2. On LinkedIn

  • Maintain your profile. LinkedIn is a professional network, so you’ll need an active one. Update often, and make sure to include all of your experience.
  • Be careful. Avoid adding perfect strangers to your network. Stick to people who share several connections with you.

3. Elsewhere

  • Network in person. Whenever you meet someone who can help advance your career (and if it’s appropriate), be friendly and personable – and exchange contact information.
  • Network with Alumni. Join any (school or university) alumni networking sites to increase your chances of finding a connection who can help you find a job.
  • Work the room. Listen, to the views of others. Share their views, as appropriate. Respond courteously and promptly to feedback.
  • Be patient. It takes time, to build relationships – and that’s what social media skills are all about.

And Remember…

Professional use of social media includes networking in your particular industry, reading up on trends, sharing related content, and gaining the interest of others. What you do in your personal life should (generally) be kept entirely separate.

Social Media and Cyber Security

Social Media and Cyber Security 150 150 Kerry Butters

Everyone who has any sort of online presence uses social media sites. This can be a useful way to promote content, increase exposure, and network with your peers. However, the increasing usage of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, come with its own set of problems, namely: online security.

Many new employees in the global workforce feel that personal and private lives are increasing the security challenge for businesses. This is most evident in social media and this is often accompanied by a low regard, or even a total disregard for privacy concerns.

Nearly 91% of Generation Y students and workers believe that the age of privacy is gone and a third of that percentage are unconcerned about the data that is captured about them. This is according to the latest Cisco Connected World Technology Report.

“More Generation Y workers globally said they feel more comfortable sharing personal information with retail sites than with their own employers IT departments.”

So how do we utilise social media to our advantage whilst curbing the negative aspects of those services?

Here is a guide to help employees to get the most out of social and stay safe while you’re doing it.

Privacy exists for a reason

Facebook and most other sites like it have its own built-in security and privacy features and it would benefit users to be aware of the control they can exercise over these services. If you’re not sure, then do your research and find out how you can better safeguard your privacy online.

These innate social media controls are there for the user and often they’re not set up ‘out of the box’. Instead, users are expected to do it themselves and so perhaps the best recommendation is to carry out some research and find out for yourself what information you’re sharing and whom you’re sharing it with. This will allow you to better control your data on social media.

Once posted, always posted

This is a good rule of thumb and if you’re posting something that you’ll later regret it’s probably best to remember that once it’s online, it’ll always be online. Think twice before posting something that an employer would be unhappy seeing. Privacy and maintaining it is all well and good, but if you’re posting something to social media sites that could damage your reputation it won’t matter how well you control who sees it.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that job recruiters have, in many cases, rejected candidates based on information found online. In the connected world, it’s necessary to protect your digital identity and this entails being responsible about what you post.

It’s worth doing it well

Your online reputation can be something that you cultivate and use to your advantage. Often recruiters respond best to a strong, positive, and personal online brand. Use the sharing feature on sites like Facebook to post information that you feel is relevant to yourself and your job and build a profile that sells who you are and what you’re capable of.

Effectively, it’s worth using social media as a sort of online CV. Stock it with work that you’ve done and perhaps work you aspire to do, and show future employers that you’re considered, skilful, and a master in your field.

Keep it to yourself

Social media sites rely on the value exchange principle. This means that you don’t pay anything to use the service, at least anything monetary, instead you provide them with information about yourself in exchange for the service. This doesn’t mean you should share everything about your personal life.

Instead be cautious and remember that the more information that you post, the easier it may be for someone else to use that information. This could lead to identity theft, or your data being read and accessed by someone else, and you could lose control of your social media page.

Know and manage your friends

Of course part of the allure of social media sites is the huge amount of friends that you can add from the past right up to the present. However, this is not to say that all friends are placed in the same categories. Remember that you have control on your own social page and you can use different tools to place your friends in different categories.

This means that when you’re posting information online you can pick the audience that it’s best tailored for. You can create more than one page on most social media sites and use those other pages for more professional pursuits and keep your profile page more personal. Use your personal page to keep up to date with your friends, the ones that you know and trust, and keep them abreast of your daily life too.

Speak up

With so much being posted online every single day, you’re bound to come across something that you find offensive. If a friend has posted something that makes you feel uncomfortable, then let them know. This works for you too. If someone tells you that you’ve posted something that they find offensive, take it down. Remember that people have different tolerances, and some people want the world to know less about them than others. Be respectful when posting online and you’ll find it a much kinder environment.

The online world is a place like any other and there are rules and etiquette to follow. Blindly posting on Facebook, or any other social site, can lead to trouble. So keep it clean and respectful and above all professional. You never know who is looking at your profile.

Guidelines for your online security:

·         Keep your computer clean and up to date – make sure that your browser, OS, and security software are always updated to protect against viruses, malware, and other online threats

·         Be private if need be – set the privacy and security settings to a level that you’re comfortable with. You never need to share more than you want to share

·         Long and strong passwords – use a combination of capital letters, numbers, and symbols to ensure that your password is as secure as possible. You can also utilise a password manager to keep your complex passwords in one place, without forgetting them

·         New account, new password – every one of your online accounts should be guarded by a different, unique password

·         Don’t click if in doubt – links in emails, tweets, posts, and online advertising can be dangerous and can compromise your computer. Know what you’re clicking, and if you’re uncertain of the source its best to delete or mark as junk. This is especially true of social media as there are a huge amount of social engineering tactics that are specifically employed to tempt you into clicking ‘like’ or sharing

·         And the final most important rule is: Don’t post anything about others that you wouldn’t want said about yourself

Social media is a paradox that many of us would like to be without but stay with due to the ease of talking to those we might not otherwise have the chance to. Relatives abroad, people that share the same interests as you – all of this can enrich your online experience. Social can and is vital to some people’s job too, especially for those in marketing, so make sure that you respect others on social but most of all respect yourself and your future.

Do you need help setting up your network to block social usage at work? We can help! Give us a call today to see how we can ensure your network is secure.

Image: Reuters