Answer: Where would I find a knowledgeable professional with sufficient expertise, experience and judgment to succeed in meeting my client’s needs? Social media tools are relatively new. Professionals, who over a decade ago in their mid-late 20ties, began using social media in their daily lives would have the expertise. It was not their managers and supervisors, a decade or more or older, that were qualified for this role. The generational gap was obvious.
Gen X professionals holding senior managerial posts (in their early 40ties and older) for the most part, had not embraced the technology. Their expertise was in managing staff and using “traditional” tools of the trade. Their expertise was, for example, media relations, employee relations (top down, controlled, central messaging) financial and crisis communications.
They were educated in an age of “gatekeepers” where messages were shared in tightly managed environments. The free-wheeling world of social media and a level playing field for sharing information was not their paradigm. Certainly, these leaders made adjustments and added SM to the mix of programs and tools they used. However, they simply were not the right fit for a job that required hands on, in-depth knowledge of social media. Unlike Millennials, these senior managers do not live in the world of SM. They lacked an instinctive understanding of the role SM played in the lives of their target audiences.
Successful careers in that more senior age group are about leadership and strategy. While their resumes would list social media as an area of expertise, the actual capability was in managing and hiring either outside or inside resources to use these tools. For this search, that experience was not a fit for what the hiring organization needed. The professional for this assignment was one level below this profile who could create the work as well as the plan.
Knowing this was the direction of the search also meant evaluating candidates would be a challenge. If they had an excellent portfolio of what they produced, that would only be part of the picture. As essential as that “hands on” experience would be, the problem-solving behind the work product would be key. Their ability to do both would indicate they were ready to tackle this assignment.