What you Need To Be Thinking About Regarding Social Media and Layoffs

Job Decline Worst in 35 years
Many of my friends –and family– members have been laid off, or are having a hard time getting a job. In fact, Forbes reports that nearly 600,000 jobs were lost in Jan due to the recession, the worst since 1974 says the SF Chronicle.

Average Tech Company Layoffs? 21%
Being native to the tech industry, I’m watching Techcrunch’s layoff tracker, which has a roster of 288,153 layoffs since August 08. Let’s assume that Techcrunch’s data is right, and focus on one of the columns listed on the report shows the percentages of layoffs per company. Being the analyst I am, I did a quick average and found out that most common percentages of layoff is 21%.

21%, this means that if you work at a tech company, and look up and down your aisle, 1/5 people you know, could be packing their boxes.

Hate Your Job? Suck It Up
After speaking with others that were thinking of leaving their jobs before Oct, they are now thinking twice, why? The competition for specific jobs is fierce, and with less compensation, people that have crappy jobs are going to suck it up, despite the fact they have to do more with less.

Got Laid Off? You’ve A Stigma to Overcome
I speak to a lot of CEOs in my job as an Industry Analyst, and I’ve been asking them where they would hire top talent from, from the existing workforce (already have a job) or those that got laid off. Each one (over 5) told me that they would still try to poach top talent from existing companies, sadly those that were laid off on first round have a stigma attached to them. In fact, some of you may be over and under qualified, and you should know the dangers and solutions.

For those that were cut in first round, I’m sensitive to your situation, you know I’m doing what I can to help those that got laid off with my survey results of those that were hired since the recession was announced.

Filtering the True Social Media Experts
So what about those that got laid off? friend and former colleague Robert Scoble suggests several tips to those who joined the mobility pool, while many make sense, he suggests that:

“This means removing ANYTHING that says you are a “social media expert” from your Twitter account. There is no such thing and even if there were there’s no job in it for you. Chris Brogan already has that job and he’s not giving it up.”

I disagree and agree, here’s why: first of all, recognize there’s a few different types of social media experts, those have have done it, and those that say they can.

Within the corporate (client) environment, it’s easy to find folks that have done it, in fact, I’ve created a list of those within companies larger than 1000 employees that are social media strategists, or community managers. I’m a bit behind on updating the list, I’ll do it soon, please carefully read the requirements before submitting.

On the vendor or agency side, this is a bit more challenging, as an client, you should ask for at least 3 case studies of success, and gauge if they are walking the talk.

However, it gets more difficult on the consultant side, why? When people get laid off, the first instinct is brand themselves a consultant for hire. As a result, anyone who has been using social media tools for personal use could brand themselves as having social media skills and experiences for corporate –yet we know it’s often very different.

Now, if you truly are a social media expert, and a consultant, you’ve likely already a book of business and you’re working with clients. Therefore any employer who is seeking to hire you, and sees that you’re positioning yourself as a social media consultant without a book of business or client or vendor experience will quickly see through it. That’s where Scoble is right.

Key Takeaway: If you are the real deal, tout it. Of course you should highlight what you’ve done right, but because we’re in a community, others will reference you –so it may not matter as much.

Update: Dawn Foster has some good points on how to find out who’s a real social media consultant.

Talking About It Openly Can Help
Here’s a unique approach, my friend Cece Salomon Lee a PR/Marketing/Social Media professional on vendor side recently god laid off, (her husband was laid off the next business day) and she’s chronicling her journey on this blog Survival Mode. I worked with her on a client/vendor relationship and am happy to be her reference.

When Layoffs Are A good Thing
Before the recession was announced, I planned a trip to Maui, in fact I just got back last week. What did I notice? Now is a great time to go on a vacation. Flights were $250 round trip from SF to Oahu (ours was only 1/3rd full), and condos were renting at $100 a night. You can go to Costco and buy food on first day, avoid eating out, and rent a car for $25 a day and go to the world’s best beaches. So if your job is secure, or you got a nice severance check –take that trip you’ve always wanted to.

Of course, layoffs are good, actually great, but only if you’re the CEO of Seagate, who received a $5,000,000.00 severance paycheck, that’s a golden parachute inside of a parachute, with a backup parachute on a glider. I counted last night, that means they’d need to sell over 50,000 Seagate Free Agent Drives (less than $100 each) to make up for that compensation –not counting his $500 hourly consulting fee. I’ll be he’s going to Hawaii.

I have a Forrester report coming soon based on the survey results from top brands, whether or not they are going to increase or decrease their social media marketing spend during a recession –stay tuned.