Community Manager: A Job Title that Says a Thousand Words

From a recent conversation with Georgina Cannie and the frustrations her students found in their post-college job hunts, I decided to take on the challenge (or variety show) that is typing “Community Manager Jobs” in Google. Some of the initial results include:

“Manage our newly built apartment complex!”

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“Volunteer to tweet about us! (We’ll eventually hire you. Probably.)”

“Answer customer calls for our Community health center (nothing else)!”

“Run Meet-and-Greets at our farm!” (personal favorite)

…and the list goes on.

No matter where you look, the job title of “Community Manager” is a title that can mean many things to many people. As someone curious to take the pulse of the Online Community Management industry job market, these variances can stray far from the path one sets out to explore.

As a note here- it is worth mentioning that Online Community Management industry doesn’t have dibs on the word “Community”; we represent our goals, skills and tactics with this term that is broad, colloquial and well-worn. It just so happens that the word Community is applied to many roles in many capacities.

Certainly other professions have just as much right to use the word but, assuming you are like me and don’t want to tweet at your local farmers market, I wanted to shout out a few best practices for those looking at jobs in the online Community field to pass through the “Community Manager” Turing test.

1. Don’t expect a Google search to help.

Google casts a wide net that runs the risk of finding you more pyrite than Community gold. While job sites like Glassdoor and Indeed can have more dials to tune into Community, they can only show you what the job posters give them. “Community” has become popular jargon lingo in many industries as of late – perhaps as a way of conveying the authenticity, collaboration and local vibe of whatever company is touting it. Google is going to show you all the postings where community is used as an adjective – rather than the noun you are looking for.  

What to do about it: From experience and reports from peers, I have found that LinkedIn is a reasonably reliable place to query jobs. Better still, swing by Online community industry groups and associations (TheCR, CMX, and Feverbee are all great options with targeted job boards).

2. Specificity is your best friend.

With all the options for variety out there, narrowing down is a must. Even within the Online Community industry there are deep discrepancies in the terminology. “Community Manager” for example is as likely to be a director level role as it is to indicate a platform support intern, so when you search this top line term, you are really rolling the dice.

What to do about it: Leverage tangential terminology that is more targeted to this work. While apartment complexes may be using the term “community”, generally they don’t include “Global Engagement” in their ads. “Online”, “Communications”, “Support”, “Employee”, “Customer”, “Digital”, “Moderator”, and “Engagement” are all good add-ons to your queries, depending on your preferred use case. I’ve also found that by augmenting the job title Community Manager along with specific vertically-related words (for example, “Healthcare”), you’re more likely to get a Community Manager role and not the general algorithm white noise.

3. Networking all the way down.

One thing that has never failed to delight and surprise me is the openness our Community peers are with their time and advice. And the action of reaching out for career guidance is multi-faceted; you’re connecting with someone in your field, who has been in your shoes, and can also possibly refer you to a job they may know about through the grapevine. Talk about a win-win-win solution.

What to do about it: Find and nurture your Community mentor flower-bed. Even if you aren’t on the market right now, these relationships can be the balm for the weeks that you’re feeling burnt out or need a reprieve.

Do you have advice, tips, or tricks for finding roles in the Online Community Management space? If so, please leave a comment!

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