Mar420095:51 pm

Social networking as a skill?

I was discussing recently with Lauren Jacobs, program specialist the USDA International Institute, the appeal (if any) of listing “social networking” as a skill on your resume. Lauren pointed out that almost every organization is starting a blog/a Twitter account/a Facebook group, etc. The question then becomes: do these organizations assume that if you’re applying for a job with them and of a certain age (i.e., young), then you’re automatically proficient in this kind of social networking? Lauren’s thought was not necessarily to “advertise one’s Facebook prowess as an elite skill,” but rather, if you have it, to perhaps highlight your experience with social networking in your resume/cover letter as something that is a very useful and marketable skill.

I think she’s on to something. Young professionals in all fields, including international ones, can really make themselves indispensable to a small organization by expertly guiding it in its use of social networking.  Certainly, as Lauren said, everyone is jumping on the social networking bandwagon.  But that doesn’t mean organizations know how to use these tools effectively. So if you do know how to use social networking as an effective organizational tool, should it be on your resume?

On the one hand, as Lauren points out, “proficient in Facebook” is about as silly a skill to list on your resume as “jogging”—these aren’t skills; these are hobbies. But to put on your resume/in your cover letter that you have actual, substantive experience and skill with not only setting up an organizational presence in a social networking site, but effectively managing and utilizing that presence for the benefit of the organization?  That might be something worth highlighting, especially if the job calls for it, like the job that Lauren noticed floating around the USDA for an E-Marketing Specialist that called for:

Familiarity with Web-based technology, internet trends and social media tools (blogs, wikis, twitter, etc.)

It’s true most people are “familiar” with these things in the way that I am familiar with my tax return—I know that it exists and it’s something I can/should do, but it doesn’t mean I have any idea how to do it well. So I think Lauren’s point is that social networking might be a good skill to highlight if you truly have a deep understanding of social media and how to use it for the benefit of an organization, especially a small international nonprofit that could benefit from the savvy of a young professional who knows how to utilize free technology to make a deep impact. But I think you really need to school yourself in such intricacies and that involves a whole lot more knowledge and experience than updating your status every hour, posting unsightly photos, and tagging far too many of your friends in that damn “25 Things” craze. If that’s all you’ve got, you might want to keep that off the resume.

Any other opinions out there? Is social networking a skill? How can it be utilized for international organizations or to help further your international career?

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3 Responses to “Social networking as a skill?”

  1. Dylan says:

    Eh, I wouldn’t really say it’s a skill. Anyone can just go around randomly adding friends on these networks, and say they’re great at it because look I have 1,000+ friends.

  2. G says:

    Not a skill.

    Unless you’ve created your own social networking site (complete with html and all that fun stuff), I don’t think it belongs on your resume. I think if it was on there, I would wonder about your other competencies, as I don’t know anyone who is unskilled at social networking. If that’s the best thing you can say about yourself, you aren’t going to get the job.

    Historically, would you have put ’socializing’ on your resume? Would you put ‘talking on the phone’ or ‘writing letters’ on your resume? The only place this might belong is in a section called ‘interests,’ but I don’t think that section belongs on a resume in the first place.

  3. Mark Overmann says:

    Two solid votes so far for not a skill. How do others feel?

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