Sometimes when people do very impressive things during their Internet leisure time it gets them real, paid jobs. That has happened at least twice to people who were discovered via their popular Tumblr blogs, notes The New York Times' Natalie Kitroeff. Once to the man behind Texts from Hillary, Stacy Lambe, who got picked up by BuzzFeed for his expert meme-making skill. There's also Neetzan Zimmerman, who sold his Tumblr The Daily What to The Cheezburger Network and now works as Gawker's "machine-like" viral content tracker. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone, right? Kind of! Before we get all dreamy about turning our Internet hobbies into paid gigs, let's take a look at what an excellent presence on various social media platforms can really get us in terms of a career.
The top dreamiest of dreams: Best case scenario for a really beloved Tumblr provides access to professional meme-making. Those are what we would call the jobs that Zimmerman and Lambe got out of their Tumblrs. With their Tumblmaking skills, they showed they knew what the Internet wanted and how it worked. That's what sites like Buzzfeed and Gawker want out of them. "He’s a total freak, a specialist, if you will, and I’d much rather have him (one person!) taking care of the backend of Gawker and letting the rest of us grow the site a little more traditionally," Gawker's A.J. Daulerio told Nieman Lab's Andrew Phelps.
The mid-level dreams: A book deal. Urban Outfitters gift books like Hipster Puppies and My Mom the Style Icon started out as Tumblrs. Some might put this as a greater achievement than even a job. But, those people got entree into paying careers that they did not have access to before.
The bottom shelf dreams: Getting recognition that you can put on your resume that might impress an employer some day. Places like Buzzfeed and The Village Voice single out notable voices on the social blogging platforms. People notice those types of things. At the very least it can be a talking point during an interview.
The top dreamiest of dreams: Some very funny or charasmatic tweeters can get writing jobs. One ad executive had a "best tweet wins a job" hiring plan, where he offered a $70k a year position to whomever sent him the funniest, quippiest response. Jimmy Fallon writer Jen Statsky got hired on at Jimmy Fallon after fine-tuning her jokes on Twitter.
The mid-level dreams: Sometimes people who are really good at Twitter get hired to do Twitter full time as social media editors. This happened to Reuters' current social media guy, Anthony de Rosa, who was working as a product manager before he got that gig.
The bottom shelf dreams: Other times, people form relationships over Twitter that get them hired. Traci Koller explains how it helped her get a job with the National Cancer Foundation on Resume Bear. Basically, she used it as a networking tool and it worked.
The top dreamiest of dreams: Perhaps because Facebook is the most private of these platforms, the best users can hope for is to discover a job on the site, as this anonymous blogger did. He or she saw a posting for a Living Social position, applied and got it. This infographic claims over 18,000,000 got their jobs via Facebook, too. Though that number sounds high, doesn't it?
The mid-level dreams: These days, future employers use Facebook to judge one's personal character. Some employers even ask for applicants' passwords, as The Atlantic Wire's Jen Doll noted. Getting a profile approved is an accomplishment on its own.
The bottom shelf dreams: This is more of a bad dream. But, sometimes Facebook can get you fired before you even get hired. Future bosses tend to dislike profiles with a lot of drinking and drugs, for some reason.
The top dreamiest of dreams: The most nascent of these networks, Pinterest still has some time to prove itself. But so far, some have gotten creative by posting résumés on the visual medium. The Huffington Post called it "LinkedIn for creatives," pointing to one notable case, Jeanne Hwang, whose pinboard got her a job with a Pinterest-related company.
The mid-level dreams: Some politicians wives use it to boost their profile, hoping it might give voters a more personal look into their lives. That could apply to regular people, too. Like any social media profile, if it shows up on Google, an employer might look at it.
The bottom shelf dreams: Again, this can turn into a bad dream. Associations with thinspiration, or other off-putting content might not sit well with employers.
Sometimes Internet dreams do come true. But for a lot of us, this stuff just serves as another way for future employers to judge us -- for better or worse.