If you’re in the social media industry and you’re not reading Tac Anderson at New Comm Biz, you’re missing out. His latest on Job-hopping Social Media Strategists is thought provoking and fair, and that’s just the first of many gems on the site.
I’ve asserted in interviews and on this site that a bubble exists for social strategy. Strangely it is not in the upper levels of consulting, nor is it in the entry-level positions. The high-level consulting, ranging from $150-400 an hour, is entirely consistent with other kinds of management consulting on the market, from techology to human resources to marketing and law. The lower levels pay as low as $10 an hour, with most jobs in basic entry level range of $30-35,000 (not so great with inflation, but in line with other positions with that experience level).
The bubble exists outside of this range, with people with a year of more experience seeing large jumps in pay up to $75-85,000, and in some cases six figures. When comparing resumes, the only thing that leaps out is social media experience, and in most cases this has more to do with pedigree and personal profile. In other words, taking a job with a firm after working with name brands gives a large boost to your pay, as does having a large online following try this web-site. In these cases, the candidates do a lot of job-hopping, spending less than a year, and sometimes only 3-6 months at different companies, all with little to show for it and little in the way of impact.
The middle of social media jobs is hollowing out, and there isn’t much to replace it.
Tac discusses the problem from a senior level.
With very, very, very few exceptions, I, and every one of my friends working as social media strategists, have changed jobs *at least* once or twice in the last 5 years. Some as many as 4 or <cough> 5 <cough> times.
Why have we changed jobs so many times? Those of us doing this for the last 5 years got an early start at developing a critical skill set that few people had and every major company all of a sudden needed very, very badly. This placed us in the *star* category and has lead to a ridiculous number of job offers, made even more ridiculous when you consider they came during the worst job market we’ve seen in our adult lives.
Changing jobs twice or even 5 times in 5 years, especially in the last 5 years, isn’t bad. The people Tac is talking about are literally cutting edge, and they’re experiencing a high degree of dissatisfaction. Ultimately, they will move into consulting on their own, or enter domestic periods where job-hopping is too destructive to do. But they’ll be okay. They already have careers behind them that can be used to great effect in the job market.
Will there be fallout? Sure. The major failure of the social media consultant class he describes so well is their refusal to accept that there is no such thing as a perfect company. At SXSW, I was barraged with people talking about finding clients and companies in line with your values. That’s a nice pipe dream, but if you’re talking about revolution, you seldom get to carefully select the perfect manager at a rising company with money to pay you and compassion for your personal quirks. And when you do find that perfect company, most of us make the mistake of leaving for more money elsewhere, regretting it only after it’s too late to return.
This class will learn that fast enough (we all do – and it may just be life experience that teaches it), because they are smart and capable, and when they do focus, they are powerful employees. They’ve built up an expertise that carries them through a new learning curve.
This is not true for those in the middle. The doers. Jumping jobs early can help you boost your salary, but it also prevents you from learning lessons like, “sometimes just putting your head down and working solves your problems.” Lessons like “outside forces sometimes make managers assholes, but it’s temporary, and if you keep your head about you, both you and the company come out stronger.” This isn’t universally true, but it’s very difficult to pick up expertise in an industry or company if you don’t ride that company or industry through up and down business cycles.