I was pleased and surprised to see that Monsanto is looking to hire a social media specialist. It's a position in their Public Relations department (a good place for a social media specialist), and it's a good sign for my recruiting practice in social media that companies are looking to hire these positions with these titles. A list of some of the duties are not bad.
Monitoring and tracking of online media, blogs, and social media sites Analyzing and reporting on trends in online discussions Working with internal and external communication teams to develop social media outreach strategies Working with internal teams to consult and educate on new online developments and tools
I even like the Monsanto colors on the text (it's good branding). What I don't like is the rest of the job description, which pretty clearly lays out that this is an entry-level position where your job is basically that of an intern. It seems someone at Monsanto has bought into the idea that hiring a 23 year-old with one year's experience and a knowledge of that "social media stuff" is a good way to get involved.
This is a common mistake for companies, who assume (wrongly) that young means social media savvy. it's also a way to pay very little for important research.
The skills needed?
Do you have a Bachelor's degree or equivalent professional experience 1 or more years of relevant professional experience
Translation: We want to hire someone cheap who can monitor blogs for us and we'll call them our social media expert. We don't want to hire a new college graduate, but we don't want to pay much. Here's the problem.
I can't tell if Monsanto has their own blogs - if they do, they are poorly optimized and need some professional help, as they don't show up in a search. What I do know is that Monsanto is a favorite target of environmental activists, and considering the impact of Monsanto on the agricultural world, it's astounding that they don't have a full social media strategy in place.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad they are doing something, but I wonder if what they're doing is going to be effective. Check out the rest of the job description. It's pure fluff:
A writing and online skills test will be administered as part of the overall interview process for this position.
Strong writing-for-the-Web and editing skills
Strong computer skills ' proficient with Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel
Good people and negotiation skills
Strong organizational skills with attention to detail
Ability to think creatively--and outside traditional communications and news models
Strong team member who is willing to express his/her ideas in a collaborative effort and who willingly receives constructive feedback from others
Ability to prioritize and perform multiple tasks in a dynamic and fast-paced environment
Ability to adapt quickly to changing priorities
Ability to produce material in a timely fashion
Ability to travel on a limited basis
Desired skills/education/experience/attributes (ideal candidate):
Online research experience
Online communications experience
Strong knowledge of social media tools and social networking sites
Knowledge of Monsanto and our industry
A demonstrable commitment to journalistic ethics
My hope is that this is a symptom of the hiring process, and not their approach to social media. This position seems to have a strong writing component. It's a fundamental part of the job.
It is not responsible or effective to hire someone with one year of experience to handle your social media strategy. Trust me. I work and train these people on a regular basis, and the best ones are always those with a little seasoning. Maybe Monsanto has a host of people working in this field, but they sure aren't having an effect in search engines. The first result for a Google Search for "Monsanto blog" is a blogger mocking a trademark letter from Monsanto counsel in 2005.
I imagine that after this post, I'll be the first result for "Monsanto Blog," but I look forward to the day when I'm driven off the first page of Google by their efforts. Hiring an entry level social media writer in their PR department isn't going to solve that problem.