By Sharon Wiatt Jones
A “war for talent” in social media has arisen due to critical skill shortages, according to Dr. John Sullivan, labeled the “Michael Jordan of Hiring” by Fast Company magazine. Are you a problem solver who never quits until the challenge is met? Can you deal with chaos and ambiguity, unleashing creativity on demand? Can you spot new and emerging trends, acquire the combination of skills that few people possess, and become “The Rare Find” described by author George Anders?
WEB/DATA ANALYTICS AND OPERATIONS. A data scientist, according to Fortune magazine writer Michal Lev-Ram, is “a new kind of highly skilled, nerdy-cool job.” It has been described as a combination of statistician, forensic scientist, hacker, engineer, and investigative journalist. According to an Amazon job description, a data scientist will “target the right product to the right customer at the right moment.”
Big Data staff analyze user behavior in unstructured data (e.g. web clicks, audio, video, blogs, forums, search terms) to make content appealing and profitable. They may also predict future behavior of users and their lifetime value. A statistical analyst uses survey research methodology, data mining and predictive analytics for development of new digital products and metrics. Similar positions include revenue research analyst and data engineer.
DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN. The Matrix Group, in Arlington, Virginia, uses colorful descriptions for some of its job openings: Mozart Meets MacGyver (Web Programmer/Developer); .NET Rock Star (Web Developer/Application Developer); Virtual Virtuoso (Web Interactive Designer). Google lists a vacancy as Doodler (Product Graphic Designer/Illustrator).
The natural language processing (NLP) developer makes it possible for employees to read and understand user language in near-instant time. Mobile application developers specialize in Android, iPhone, iOS and BlackBerry devices. Tumblr lists an opening for a performance engineer “who likes to take things apart-- and then put them back together with twice the efficiency and half the code.”
A user experience designer, interactive designer, or human factors engineer ensures that a website, mobile device, or computer game is easy to navigate, intuitive, and accessible to those with disabilities. Problems in user interface may be escalated to a sustaining engineering team. Tableau seeks applicants who “love mysteries and puzzles and want to be part of an elite bug-bashing team…”
Designers have become increasingly specialized. A data visualization designer uses infographics to help users easily understand data. The computer game industry offers positions such as iPhone game designer, associate sound designer, motion graphics designer, and augmented reality specialist.
HOW TO BECOME MARKETABLE IN SOCIAL MEDIA TECHNOLOGY. IT professionals need to constantly update their skills in the newest technology: Hadoop, Python, BASH, AWK, and more appear each day in job descriptions. Data scientist jobs usually require an advanced degree with skills in areas such as computer science, (especially information analytics), marketing, applied mathematics, and behavioral economics. Entry level positions exist as a data cleaner or analyst.
Take courses in computer or information science, such as data mining, machine learning, information retrieval, artificial intelligence, and data visualization. Related to market research, a senior statistical analyst or data engineer usually requires a master’s degree in statistics, mathematics, operations research, or social sciences with strong quantitative skills.
Depending on the position, applicants for usability design jobs may need a degree in human computer interaction, cognitive or experimental psychology, applied anthropology, graphic design, computer science, information science, or human factors engineering.
A window of opportunity cracks open when the perfect applicant is nonexistent or is in critically short supply. Do you have what it takes to seize the moment in a ground-breaking field? Many people are self-taught or learn on-the-job through employers who hire for talent, aptitude, and passion for a field.
Do any experienced professionals have other suggestions of emerging careers in social media? Are there college students who want to know about firms that offer entry-level jobs or internships? Please comment or ask questions.
Watch for PART III: LINGUISTICS, LEGAL/SECURITY, AND SOCIAL RESEARCH CAREERS.