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Get the Experience to Land the Job: Social Media Manager

Alexis Perrotta profile image

Alexis Perrotta

A smart phone showing the Instagram verification screen.

Last week, we explored innovative ways to gain marketable nonprofit development and fundraising experience. Now, in part three of our six-part series, let’s take a look at how to build some of the experience you need to land a social media management position.

A reminder: I don’t recommend trying to spin any of this as professional experience on your resume. Here are ways that I would suggest featuring this somewhat-informal experience:

  • Make space to include a Relevant Coursework section on your resume.
  • Anything that doesn’t fit on your resume naturally should be reserved for your cover letter, and with any luck, for your first interview.
  • Enter the digital portfolio! This is a fantastic—and innovative—way to feature any and all of the work that you’re proud of. Furthermore, you shouldn’t feel limited to only featuring paid work in your portfolio. If you think something you did in your spare time may catch the eye of potential employers, your digital portfolio is a great place to do just that.

Social Media Manager, Tip 1:

Start by cleaning up your own social channels and ensuring that you have a presence on every relevant platform that’s out there.

While it’s true that organizations shouldn’t try to keep up with every platform, as an individual looking to land a job in the field, you’re in a different boat. Sure, a smart organization with limited resources will select two to four social media platforms to focus on, but you want to illustrate that you’re fluent across platforms and ready to work your magic on whatever the platform du jour may be.

Here is a simple routine that you can apply to most of your personal channels to get them in sharing shape:

  • Review privacy settings. Do yourself a favor change the privacy settings on your personal photos. And if you're feeling bold, take a close look through what's out there and delete those photos that are painfully unprofessional (you know the ones I'm talking about). Regardless of how you used your social media channels in the past, you’re officially a professional on the hunt for a job, so think twice before posting anything that doesn’t portray you in that same, professional light.

Pro Tip: If you already have a huge following on social media as an established voice on Twitter or an Instagram guru, for example, you may want to be a bit more strategic about privacy settings. If your content comes across as professional and you've got the following to back you up, you should leave your profiles public so that potential employers can see you know what you're doing.

  • Cross-platform market yourself. If you have a personal website or digital portfolio, include links that bring your social media community back to that site wherever you can. Be sure to include links between your social media channels, as well, as the idea is to connect everything under your personal brand.
  • Customize. Make sure that you’re taking all opportunities to customize your profile. Find a free banner image, or better yet, design one, that you can use across platforms; rather than using the default option of current job title for your LinkedIn headline, customize it and let people know that you’re a budding social-media guru; include links to your various accounts and profiles in the footer of your personal email.

Pro Tip: These days, most people understand how to use the social media OGs—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram—so differentiate yourself by focusing on what’s new and trending. Not sure what’s new? Subscribe to receive news updates from sites like Digital Trends, Social Media WeekNonprofit Technology Network, Nonprofit Tech for GoodMashable, and Altimeter Group.

Social Media Manager, Tip 2:

You may have noticed that finding creative ways to learn what you don’t know is an overarching theme in this series. And so, let’s talk learning!

Once you clean up your own accounts, it’s time to fill in the gaps in knowledge by utilizing some free, online resources. Browse social-media courses on Skillshare and take advantage of their frequent offers for free access.

In addition to Skillshare, you should have no problem finding plenty of free courses and even opportunities to earn a certificate, like the Alison Diploma in Social Media Marketing. Of course, the quality of these courses will vary, so let us know which ones you love! And once you’ve completed a course, add that bad boy to the Relevant Coursework section of your newly updated resume.

Social Media Manager, Tip 3:

Now it’s time to collect some evidence of measurable success to share with future employers. Start measuring your own accounts by creating goals for yourself and setting up a simple analytic dashboards to track your progress to those goals. Take it one step further and create a simple report or deck to showcase your accomplishments.

While there’s no simple way to use analytics on your Facebook and Instagram profile pages and personal (non-business) accounts, here are some things you can manually measure on your personal profiles:

  • Number of posts, Instagrams, etc. you’re publishing per week
  • Weekly or monthly growth in followers
  • Weekly or monthly engagement metrics (people liking, favoriting, commenting, sharing, etc.)

Pro Tip #1: There is an easy way to gather basic analytics on your personal Twitter account! Simply visit to get a breakdown of impressions and engagement for every tweet.

Pro Tip #2: If you do have a personal website or digital portfolio, be sure that you have Google Analytics set up. This will allow you to track “referrals” to your site so that you’ll be able to see how much of your traffic is coming from each social media channel.

Social Media Manager, Tip 4:

Offer to help others with their social media presence. If you have friends or family members with blogs, or better yet, small businesses, offer to manage their social media accounts for a designated period of time (be sure that it’s enough for you to set goals and collect some growth data) in exchange for testimonials that you can feature on your own site or in your digital portfolio.

Here is another chance to take the data collected from these small, side-projects and format the numbers into a final report of sorts. Get permission to make the report available to the public on your site or on your LinkedIn profile.

Pro Tip: Don't have any friends or family interested in your offer? Try exploring social media volunteer opportunities on Not only are there plenty of opportunities to choose from, but the majority of them can be done remotely. Just be sure to confirm that in exchange for your work, any organization that you commit to will permit you to share some of their data as measurable evidence of your good work.

Social Media Manager, Tip 5:

Finally, you’ll want to become familiar not only with social media platforms, but with the social media management tools-of-choice for busy organizations. Get to know the ins and outs of Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, and Later, and pick a favorite to keep up your sleeve should you be asked which you prefer and why. Hootsuite even offers a couple of free, online trainings via their aptly named Hootsuite Academy.

Pro Tip: In the nonprofit and social-impact sector, free resources reign supreme. Prioritize developing your knowledge and expertise as it relates to the free tools, first.

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Alexis Perrotta profile image

Alexis Perrotta

As the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications at Idealist and a lifelong nonprofit professional, Alexis offers job seekers, game changers, and do gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social-impact advice.

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