How to Learn if an Employer Will Support Your Mental Health (Corrie Oberdin)

Corrie Oberdin

“What questions do you have for us?”

If you are interviewing for a social media management position and get this question, it’s your chance to find out what impact the role may have on your mental health. We know that burnout can happen in the social media field, and protecting your mental health helps ensure that your career is as long as you want it to be and not compromised by burning out early.

Not sure what to ask? Here are a few things you can focus on:

Get clear on the department structure

Are you working with a team of people, or are you the sole social person? One-person social management positions can be a different ballgame than those who work with a group. While the rest of the questions below are important for any social role, for those one-person social “teams,” they can be vital in helping prevent burnout.

Ask about expectations!

What is the expected time frame for responding to social messages? If the answer is “immediately” or “within 2-4 hours,” that may be a warning sign that you need to dig deeper into how connected the organization expects you to be. Similarly, learning the expectation for monitoring social channels outside of business hours can also clarify “how online” you are required to be.

Dig into turn-around times

What is their stance on last-minute social requests? Do they change direction frequently? Ask about how they plan their content, where they source it, and how often last-minute requests come into play because that can help determine how chaotic the environment might be. And while we’re talking about planning…

Learn about the emergency plan

Does the organization have a backup person who can step in if the social media manager is out sick or has an emergency and cannot do some of their duties? While we can all schedule posts, we can’t schedule emergencies—and no one can schedule when your company will get a particularly wild issue that needs to be dealt with. So, if the social media manager isn’t able—who takes point in an emergency?

Talk vacation & PTO

Not just how much you get, but “Is the social media manager expected to monitor channels while on vacation, or is there PTO coverage?” Note that it can be important to differentiate between “emergency time off” (i.e., “In the hospital” or “Family emergency”) and PTO or vacation. Emergency time off and paid time off may seem similar—but many companies can handle a planned absence like a vacation but are less prepared for an emergency.

Figure out how they support mental health

Does the organization have a mental health support system for employees? This can be incredibly important for social media managers who work doubles as first responders—those who work with organizations that respond to trauma, crisis issues, or any triage type situation where the social media manager may be interfacing with people in crisis or difficult or traumatic subject matter.

You may not need to ask all of these but picking one or two that are important to you can help you not only look at how you will fit into the organization—but how the organization will fit into your life.

(Thanks to the fellow social media managers I talked to as I wrote this article, including Codi Dantu-Johnson, Olivia Dreizen Howell, and Anne M. Vaeth.)

Corrie Oberdin @corrie
Freelance social media/content dev for nonprofits & also love to helping small businesses market themselves sustainably.

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Is mental health a consideration you take into account when evaluating potential employment?

If so, what specifics are you assessing and how?