So, you think you want to be a community manager?
Snagging a job as a community manager isn’t easy. First, realize that competition for these jobs is fierce. I’ve been doing this since 1996, and there are alot of folks with 10+ years of experience that want the same jobs you do. Don’t give up though, most of the time people hire community managers based on the interview, and if you can nail that, you’re golden.
Getting the Lead
LinkedIn is a great way to get headhunted, so make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. I get a few recruiters a month, pinging me about community related jobs. I don’t think it’s because I’m all that special. I always ask how they found me, and they usually tell me they found me by searching Linked In. As someone who is always concerned about SEO, I made sure my profile was well-stocked with popular (and relevant to my experience) keywords that a recruiter looking to fill a community position might use to search. In addition, I know that people who are connected to the person searching, rise higher in the search, so I take care to connect to people that I have met, especially if they work at a company that might interest me later in my career path. However, the last two jobs I have had in this area I did not find through LinkedIn, so don’t forget to do the traditional networking as well.
Landing the Interview
To get the interview, you want to be honest, but not brutally so. Save those perks and salary requirements discussions for the face-to-face. If a recruiter has your resume and maybe a dozen others, he’s not going to call in the bossy candidate unless he has to do so. And, like any other position, you need to be well prepared for the phone interview. Dig into the company’s site. Find out what others are saying about them. Come up with at least 3 things you would do differently, and remember to communicate those things with a gentle, but firm, style. ’Here’s what I noticed you could do better’ is received much better than ‘Here’s where you are screwing up’. You have to show the person that you are not only well qualified, and able to think strategically, but that you won’t be a pain to work with.
Nailing the Interview
Dress, dress, dress. Don’t ever come into an interview in a Tshirt, I don’t care what the rest of the office is wearing. Even if you snag the job, you’ve set a tone that you are not upper management material (ie not serious about your job), in the first meeting. I do work in San Francisco though, so in my local you can absolutely wear jeans to an interview, just pair with clothing that would work with slacks.
Bring a notepad filled with ideas that are specific for that community. This communicates that you are already working and you’ll hit the ground running. It also shows them that you are well prepared for this interview. Ask questions. Not salary/benefits quite yet, but more like ‘What’s the environment like here?’ or ‘Is this a meeting-heavy company?’ and ‘Are employees encouraged to share ideas and feedback with upper management?’ These types of questions will really give you a better look at what you might be getting yourself into, which is the point of an interview anyway. Getting the job is not always the end goal. Landing a job that you hate doesn’t help you, it just ties you up so that you can’t get the job that is perfect for you. Remember to ask questions that help you understand the personality of a company, so you too can make an informed decision.
Let’s say you haven’t been a community manager, but you’ve worked in customer service, PR, online marketing, or something similar. That’s ok. When you list those jobs on your resume, bullet out the points that are tailored to community. A person who has done any of these roles is almost always charged with some level of community building, so make those things pop out for a recruiter or HR person who is scanning a dozen resumes. Note your successes. Bring those things up in your phone interview, and drive them home in your face-to-face interview. I’d hire a person with heart and knowledge much faster than a person who has 4 community management jobs, but no success metrics to go along with it. If you increased membership by x%, or increased engagement across the board, bring it up and drive it home. Remember, they are looking for someone who can deliver results, work well internally, and not require tons of oversight. Be that person and you’ll find work.
The typical community manager makes between $40k-90k per year. With experience, a 6 figure salary is not uncommon. If this is your first job in this type of role, be prepared to make less than what you might normally earn, but let them know in the interview what you typically make and that you would like to be on a path to make x number of dollars within x number of years. If you do have significant experience, remind the interviewer that this is a crucial role and as such, your experience is worth paying for. Remember, it’s on you to let them know what you want. No one is going to pay you what you are worth unless you ask for it.
The key to snagging a community job is communicating that you are the best person for the role. If the company makes TV, let them know how much you enjoy the medium and how knowledgable you are in the industry. Remind them of your connections, and your influence. If they make video games, let them know that you’ve been playing games for x number of years, and are already hosting a weekly video podcast that is viewed by industry insiders and is often cited by well-known gaming blogs. If you’re vying for a shot as a community manager in the fashion industry, show them your fashion blog and your regular column in Variety. You get the drift… Let your passion and expertise shine, and you’ll get the offer. If you know you want a job in a certain industry, and you don’t have impressive credentials like the above, spend some time getting them. It’s not difficult, but it does involve passion and effort. If you aren’t willing to go the extra mile, a job in community is really not for you anyway.
Do you have tips about getting hired as a community manager? If so, leave them in the comments.
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