Younger Workers Create Career Opportunities Through Social Media

April 06, 2011 10:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Executives and CEOs are getting social media lessons from their younger employees, a form of reverse mentoring that benefits both teacher and student.

Fresh Faced and Social Media Savvy

According to a recent survey performed for the Center for Work-Life Policy, 40 percent of those polled had asked younger staffers for assistance with social media, as well as text messaging and iTunes, according to Barbara Brotman for the Chicago Tribune.

Whether done through “formal programs or informal sit-downs, companies are assigning junior staff members to serve as social media guides for their senior ones,” Brotman writes. Basic technological skills are part of the education, but young people are also knowledgeable when it comes to using social media, especially to a business’ or individual’s advantage.

The benefits of reverse mentoring “are vast, starting with ... breaking down corporate hierarchies,” Brotman suggests. Executives she spoke with also claimed working with members of a younger generation resulted in energized, creative thinking. 
In eastern Maryland, Wor-Wic Community College is taking on-the-job social media lessons to the next level, offering three different college-level social media courses. Of note is the course “When Boomers and Young Workers Collide: Capitalizing on Generational Strengths.” The college is also offering “Social Media 101: Link Me, Tweet Me, Nudge Me,” and “Marketing Your Business: Using Facebook,” according to Dr. Ira S. Wolfe on his blog The Perfect Labor Storm 2.0.

Turning the Corporate World on Its Head

On the CareerBuilder portal The Hiring Site, Andrew Robertson, CEO of advertising agency BBDO Worldwide, discusses the concept of a reverse apprenticeship. According to The Hiring Site, it’s “a flip from the typical way we think about mentoring programs or internships.” For his company to remain competitive, Robertson says he must find ways to enhance existing programs with digital attributes. Turning to younger employees “isn’t so much a program as it is an attitude—the acceptance that younger workers have something to teach more seasoned employees,” according to The Hiring Site. 

Background: CEOs and social media

In June, ÜberCEO, which researches and reports on top CEOs, studied the social media habits of Fortune 100 CEOs over a month-long period. The study looked at CEOs’ use of social media sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, LinkedIn and Twitter, and found that none of the CEOs surveyed had a blog, and about 80 percent did not have their own Facebook page. Only two of the CEOs had Twitter accounts.

Opinion & Analysis: Should social media experts be certified?

In a post for her blog, Kellie Parker, a social media professional for SEGA of America, laments the growth of underqualified, so-called “social media experts.” Parker writes, “[t]hey have no professional work experience in community or social media” and “[t]heir main qualification is that they have a blog, a twitter account, and 500 Facebook friends.”

Part of the issue is the lack of “academic education” available in social media, Parker suggests. As a result, almost anyone with a laptop and ambition to establish a social media presence can do so, for better or worse. Companies lacking social media experience are also contributing to the “problem,” says Parker. “They don’t understand social media. At all. So they don’t know what to look for in an expert,” she writes.

Parker’s post was written in response to a post by Jason Falls on his blog Social Media Explorer, in which he makes the case for “enterprising young folks” that are attempting to make social media a career. Those who are “attacking” the new breed of social media guru are only harming themselves, and could make clients doubt all social media professionals because “there is little apparent distinction between the experienced and the not in a field so young,” Falls writes.

Related Topic: Building a social media resume

While the so-called experts battle it out, college students, recent graduates and anyone looking to revive their career can heed the advice of Mashable’s Dan Schawbel. His tips on how to “Build the Ultimate Social Media Resume” are clearly explained and simple to follow.

“With a social media resume, you’re able to paint a completely different portrait of yourself for hiring managers and customize it to reflect your personal brand,” Schawbel writes. Interestingly, social media applications such as blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds have “allowed us to reverse the recruiting process.” The traditional model of submitting resumes to numerous companies in hopes of getting a call back can almost be entirely avoided; an online resume “becomes a billboard that can be shared, distributed to hiring managers, searched and more,” Schawbel notes.

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