(Note: This is based on one of the prompts from Robert S. Kaplan’s book What You’re Really Meant to Do.)

I’ve looked at a lot of job listings in the last year. A lot. Each one is fairly unique while also being familiar variations on a theme. The process has given me a pretty good idea of what companies are looking for in their candidates. While each one is certainly different in the details and some specifics, there are a few items that have come up time and time again:

  1. Social media management experience: This makes sense since this is the primary responsibility these companies are looking to fill. Sometimes that’s organic, sometimes that’s paid, sometimes it’s unclear.
  2. Specific software experience: Here’s where it gets a bit more tricky. I’ve used a lot of online publishing software in my time, be it for blogs or social media CMS tools. But I haven’t had occasion to use everything. That’s true of email management software too. So I’m not qualified for anything that absolutely requires experience with Marketo and other platforms just because I’ve never had occasion to use them. For social CMS tools I don’t think there’s as much of a learning curve. If you’ve used SproutSocial, you’ll be able to pick up Sprinklr pretty quickly. I’ve tried to fill in gaps where I can, taking courses and gaining some insights into different tools, but some of these certifications cost $500 or more for *one* bit of software, which I’m not doing.
  3. Opinionated: This one’s a bit fuzzier, but follow me here. Sometimes it’s that they’re looking for someone with strong feelings about grammar issues like the Oxford Comma and em dashes. Sometimes it’s someone who will tell you exactly how they feel about the ins and outs of various social tools and platforms. Whatever the specifics, the inference seems to be that they’re looking for an internal thought leader in some area, someone who can rein in current efforts and offer clear perspectives.

As I said, I try to take these as learning opportunities. If there’s something I’m clearly weak in that keeps coming up in my job searches I’ll take some time and devote it to learning more. That’s not always possible or easy, but the goal is to be able to check off as many boxes as I can the next time an opportunity lands in my inbox.