Job Hunting

21 November 2014

Stupid Job Ad: The 24/7 Renaissance Social Media Manager

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Guy Who’s Happy He’s Not On The Job Market…

The Most Interesting Man In The World

“I don’t often apply for jobs, but when I do, I sure as hell wouldn’t apply for a job like this.”

I keep my eyes open for job openings that I can pass on to my students, but too often I encounter ads that get my eyes rolling. The job requirements are so excessive and irrational, not even a combo of Chuck Norris and the Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man In The World could fulfill them.

So I’ve started a new feature on my blog called “Stupid Job Ad.” For now, I’ve decided to change the names of the companies to protect the poor HR drones who likely had to take dictation from a dipstick senior manager or a committee of dipstick senior managers.

Today’s Stupid Job Ad comes from a company that I’ve renamed Total Buffoonery Inc. My comments appear in bold. The ad begins with this:

Social Media Manager

Develop and manage social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram and other social platforms (as necessary) for Total Buffoonery Inc. in downtown Los Angeles.

Cool. Tell me more…

Total Buffoonery Inc. houses the gift and home furnishing wholesale industry; under new ownership, we are undergoing a major rebranding and will be reaching out to and growing new audiences. The Social Media Manager will be a key member of our team, responsible for strategically developing our digital community and managing the online reputation of the new Total Buffoonery Inc.

Absolutely. The high level of responsibility is certainly appealing.

You will also be front of house for the entire building, working from the lobby, helping guests use our online registration kiosk as necessary, and interacting with all visitors to the building.

Uh, wait, you want your social media manager to be the receptionist, too? And they don’t get an office?

We seek an enthusiastic, self-motivated team member with exceptional communication skills to be our “eyes and ears,” and join our hard-working, entrepreneurial team. Responsibilities include:

  • Create engaging and interactive content
  • Assist in tracking effectiveness of marketing campaigns and gathering data for weekly marketing reports
  • Develop and execute an overarching digital media strategy that can advance the new brand while servicing the social media needs of the Gift and Home, Conferences & Events, Creative Office, and Programming divisions.
  • Support custom / ad hoc external and internal special projects
  • Create, seasonal and ad-hoc global digital, social media and mobile strategies
  • Optimize current and future strategies based on analysis of weekly/monthly/ quarterly digital and social data.
  • Ongoing research, evaluation and knowledge of emerging social technologies, properties, and platforms
  • Design, develop, and deliver marketing collateral & PR

The first seven bullet points make perfect sense. But developing collateral and PR — PR?! — are completely different skillsets. Someone with a marketing degree could possibly do all the above, but good public relations requires a significant investment of time into building media relationships. Then again, I suppose they could do that between helping guests use the online registration kiosk.


The ideal candidate will have digital media planning & buying experience,

Media buying is a profession unto itself, requiring strong quantitative, strategic, and negotiation skills. But alright.

exceptional interpersonal, analytical, and writing skills, with the ability to make clear, concise, and visually compelling presentations.

So now your media buyer/receptionist must also have EXCEPTIONAL analytical AND writing skills — and be a killer presenter on top of all that. Where does the social media part come in?

Must have a strong understanding of the digital space and its marketing potential.

Ah, there it is!

Should have an interest in design, merchandising, tech, arts programming, conferences, and events.

Is that all? That shouldn’t be hard finding a receptionist/media-buyer/PR person interested in design, tech, and conferences. I predict a lot of lying in the forthcoming job interview.

Must be a highly motivated, friendly, enthusiastic, detail-oriented individual who lives and breathes digital media. Understands that social media doesn’t completely end on weekends and holidays and is comfortable making sure your schedule accommodates the demands of the highly connected world we live in.

So now you want this person to work on holidays and weekends, too. Guess how long that “highly motivated, friendly, enthusiastic” vibe will last?

  • Bachelors degree (preferably in English, Marketing, Business, Computer Science or a related field.)

How about Acting? Because whoever you hire will have to pretend to fit all the parts you want them to play.

  • Intelligent, affable, entrepreneurial type with strong interpersonal skills & work ethic, comfortable in a start-up environment.

Start-up environment = no in-house support or budget to hire help.

  • Excellent writing, editing and visual communication skills.

‘Cause the world is filled with people who EXCEL in BOTH writing and design. I hear my writer and designer colleagues laughing.

  • 1-2 years of digital, social and mobile strategy for major brand(s), preferably at an agency or at a brand.

Mobile? You want mobile experience, too?

  • A proven track record of successfully strategized and executed digital, social and mobile projects that drive business results through innovation.

So on top of being an analyst, a receptionist, a writer, a designer, a presenter, and a strategist, you expect this person to be an innovator who has made money for major brands. News for you: that person just got $10 million from a VC to start their own company.

  • Considered a thought leader by the industry, past companies/clients, and/or peers.

An industry thought leader? You mean someone who speaks at conferences and has a hit blog and Twitter account after just 1-2 years of experience? Update my comment above: that person just got $100 million from a VC to start their own company.

  • Experience with social analytics tools like Radian6, Facebook Insights, Kred to feed and analyze data against marketing and business objectives.

Sure, why not throw in data analysis. Because most creative, strategic thought leaders who make good presenters also excel at analyzing data while sitting at a reception desk and managing multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others as necessary. You weren’t kidding when you said they’d have to work holidays and weekends.

  • High competency level in MS Office products; demonstrated advanced skills in Photoshop, Illustrator, WordPress and, HTML.

And you want them to be an illustrator and programmer with ADVANCED skills, too. You left out, “Ability to whip up a mean crème brulee.”

  • Ability to lead projects independently from start to finish, working with internal and external teams to make decisions and maintain forward momentum

Be independent! And a leader! And a team player!

  • In-depth understanding of digital advertising landscape from either media planning or sales planner perspective

Media planning and sales planning are completely different skills. But I suppose your new hire can develop those skills when not performing as an independent team player working the lobby and being a thought leader on holidays.

  • Excellent time management / project management skills, with ability to manage detail work and communicate project status effectively to all levels

Hmm, you want detailed project management while reporting to multiple layers of bureaucracy? Because that’s what innovative thought leaders who create engaging, interactive content really love to do, right?

This is a full-time position with a 3-month trial period.

So in just 90 days, after demonstrating that no human being can possibly excel at all the above, you’ll can their ass without any severance pay. Nice!

Compensation depends on experience.

The job warrants at least $200,000/year, but given that you’re asking for only 1-2 years experience, I’m guessing you budgeted sub-$50,000. After all, it’s only social media.

If you would like to join our team please send your resume and cover letter in one document with salary history, three writing samples, a sample analytical presentation, and links to your own digital media platforms to email address at Total Buffoonery Inc with Social Media Manager in the subject.

After asking for Superman/Wonder Woman, you want to see a salary history based on 1-2 years experience. Can you say “low ball offer”?

In all honesty, this is the criteria for hiring an agency, not a human being. Is that renaissance person out there? Possibly – I’ve had amazing students who might fit this bill… if they decided to forgo sleep and any possibility of having a personal life. Even then, I’d recommend that they create their own business plan and launch their own start-up rather than work for these dipsticks.

In all probability, Total Buffoonery Inc will hire a jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none who gives good interview, then proceeds to falter at one or more expectations. (Perhaps after they blow up at some visitor in the lobby who asks for directions to the Staples Center while they’re in the middle of designing a presentation to senior management and responding to Facebook comments and creating an ad hoc strategic plan for media buying on mobile platforms in the art conference industry.)

If these are the high-skills/high-paying jobs that technology is bringing us, becoming a professional poker player suddenly seems far more realistic.

Paul Krugman quote on labor shortage

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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Veronica Aguirrebeitia
11 years ago

“How about Acting? Because whoever you hire will have to pretend to fit all the parts you want them to play” LOL!

Besides some JD’s being hilarious, I dont understand why some companies post jobs on LinkedIn and then they make you go to their website to apply and *FILL EVERY SINGLE THING YOU’VE DONE IN YOUR LIFE THATS ALREADY ON YOUR PROFILE*. The process usually takes about half hour if you’re a sharp typist. The funniest part is that they call themselves forward thinkers/innovators. My guess is that HR divisions need to show they do some work now that LinkedIn’s knocking on their salaries. What a waste of time and resources!

11 years ago

Sounds like the eternal conflict between doing what’s right and avoiding risk altogether.

Lynette Padwa
Lynette Padwa
11 years ago

I love that you are outing these ridiculous ads. It completely boggles my mind that anyone, no matter how clueless, would write this. They will get exactly what they deserve: a liar.

11 years ago
Reply to  Lynette Padwa

Lynette, you know in marketing we don’t use the L-word. We call those people “truth-challenged.”

11 years ago

Nail, meet head.

“Ability to lead projects independently from start to finish, working with internal and external teams to make decisions and maintain forward momentum.”

Who do you want me to be?!

The writers of job ads like these are just confused. They want it all but they’re not sure what “all” is, so they include the whole kit and caboodle and hope they can wrangle some sort of kitoodle out of the deal. But Lynette is right, they’ll probably just get a liar.

11 years ago
Reply to  Libby

I can almost picture a Kitoodle…

Thanks, Libby!

11 years ago

This is sooo TRUE!
Said by a hard-job-seeking-2-years-experience-guy.

Cheers Freddy!

Venay Sehgal
Venay Sehgal
11 years ago

On the mark Freddy! Some job postings are asking for one person agency at a minimum wage salary. But eventually their marketing-> sale -> profits will reflect it.

Wonder why so many business closed down during the recession? Because executives hired kids on minimum wage to do their marketing!

This job post should be title “Director of Digital Marketing” given a office space and a assistant with a 6 figure salary.

Loved the blog post!

11 years ago
Reply to  Venay Sehgal

Thanks, Venay. Even if they offered the tile, office, six-figure-salary and the assistant, I don’t think they’d find this person.

Catherine Bone
Catherine Bone
11 years ago

Love it! I am currently job searching and am getting a bit sick of these ads that expect the earth and pay peanuts! It’s the same across the board in most industries. Nice example here from an all encompassing marketing perspective!

11 years ago
Reply to  Catherine Bone

I’m sorry (but not surprised) to hear that Total Buffoonery has taken over other industries. If you see any particularly absurd ads, please send them to me!

11 years ago

I was halfway through the post when I started thinking that this is an ad for an agency, not a person. Talk about bringing the moon with you to work! Ha!

11 years ago
Reply to  Kripa

Even a lot of agencies would fail to qualify for this gig!

11 years ago

I’m a little disappointed Total Buffoonery isn’t looking for someone who is AT LEAST bilingual. I mean, what good is it to create this awesome social presence, create overarching strategies, work with multiple teams, help people use the kiosk Dell, and put together marketing presentations if they can only do it in one language? Talk about low expectations!

11 years ago
Reply to  Frank

You’re absolutely right! You’d think a company located in downtown L.A. (where 280 languages are spoken daily, and I’m just talking about at Starbucks) would know better.

Deanne Shirey
Deanne Shirey
11 years ago

Freddy, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to rattle the reality saber. I am in job search mode and reading similar ‘great expectations’ in almost every posting I wonder who is in charge at the office? Are there any adults in the room? There really are very few ninja’s out there and wouldn’t even pause at a posting like this. Truly mind-boggling!

11 years ago
Reply to  Deanne Shirey

Yes, the last I checked, ninjas make horrible receptionists.

Gene Page
Gene Page
11 years ago

Fantastic! Very clever and spot on! That’s why you are my favorite! Gene

11 years ago

ROTFL! Freddy, you crack me up. This is just what I needed as a supreme Monday Attitude Adjustment!

Chris Blair
11 years ago

Absolutely brilliant Freddy – you had me in stitches as I went through this!

Maybe that is why Linkedin has raised their ad prices by 450% in South Africa (see your last article) because they have to charge more to recover the negative branding ads like this bring them that they have to psot on their site!!

Best regards

9 years ago

This is a great article here! Let me tell you, I browse technology job ads every so often and always crack up while reading the nonsense they have listed in there. Its obvious the HR director, or whoever wrote the stuff has a wishlist of qualities they just copy and paste, over and over again into all the ads. Bottom line: quit reading retarded online job ads!