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If You Were Embarking On Finding Your First Community Role Today, Where Would You Start?

emilypumm profile image Emily Pumm ・1 min read

I'll keep it short and sweet: I'd like to land my first community manager role by March.

My experience up until now has been in video and photography based content creation, and content strategy. Check out my LinkedIN if you'd like more of the specifics: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilypumm/

I know I have the chops to be a great community manager, I just don't know where to start, what qualities I should look for in a role, and how to convince someone I'm the best fit for the job when I'm a beginner.

Any advice? Give me your hard-earned wisdom! I'm all ears!

Discussion

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noeleflowers profile image
Noele Flowers

Hi Emily! This is such an exciting career shift, and it's awesome that you've set out this goal so specifically and time-bound. I love to see it!

Content creation & strategy can be a big part of community management in certain roles, so it's a big advantage that you have those skills and experience. Depending on the type of role you're looking at, there may be other areas of your skillset you'll want to look to hone—for example, a company that already has a community and is hiring specifically to try to bring more engagement to their community might be looking for someone with an arsenal of community engagement plays they can draw on. Or, a company might be looking for someone who can bring more data into their community strategy. In your first few interviews, I'd recommend asking specifically what problems the company is trying to solve by hiring a CM—this will give you a sense of if you have the skillset already to approach those problems or if there are specific areas to learn more about.

Some personal preferences, but I'd recommend steering clear of companies who take a really broad marketing generalist approach to community (unless learning a lot of generalist marketing skills is a specific goal for you). Red flag for me would be a lot of marketing responsibilities that touch too many broad competencies under a CM title (like social media, email marketing, account management, writing for a blog, etc), especially if the company doesn't have a "Capital C Community" yet (i.e., a community with a clear sense of place & platform). If the company does have a clear & strong community program, it may be ok if there are a few other marketing competencies folded in if a) the company is relatively small and b) the responsibilities relate directly to that "Capital C Community" program. If I were you, I might also actively look for a company that has a senior leader with experience in community—this helps ensure that as a first time CM, you have someone to turn to to help you develop your skills and career.

Hope this helps! I've been through this transition before, you got this. If you're interested in chatting more, happy to hop on a call with you, too—would love to hear more about your journey and offer any insight I can!

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Emily Pumm Author

Wow, this was so helpful; thanks for taking the time to write out such a thoughtful response!

I think you're spot on and articulated some gut feelings I had that I was having trouble pinpointing. It's funny - last year I had an awesome, up-incoming food brand that I genuinely love string me along for the opportunity to be their first community manager. I was really bummed out when they chose someone with "more experience" (a.k.a. an MLM Instagrammer that had an established friendship with women already on their team (an infuriating, separate discussion haha)), but after I read your post, I really feel like I dodged a bullet. Yes, they have a strong fanbase, but not yet a truly cultivated community... and I think by managing all these different moving parts they were asking for - the e-mail marketing, content creation, twitter, blog, etc. - I would have been quickly burnt out and very frustrated... so thanks for that reassurance!

I'm definitely going to pivot into looking for companies with a senior CM leader or a larger team because that upper level mentorship is something I was always searching for in my previous content creator roles, but never had, so I definitely, definitely think that's wise suggestion. Thank you!

I would love to chat with you further on shifting my resume/cover letter to be more community focused, what companies I should keep an eye on, etc.

Let me know if you have any availability this week or next! :)

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noeleflowers profile image
Noele Flowers

Yay, so glad this helped! Let's definitely chat further (you've piqued my interest with this MLM story and now I need to know! 😂 ) Want to shoot me an email at noele@commsor.com and we can coordinate a good time?

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Emily Pumm Author

Sounds good! Watch out for an e-mail from me today.

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evanhamilton profile image
Evan Hamilton

Welcome to the industry! The fact that you're here posting means you're ahead of others who want to dive in. :)

Promoting Yourself
As Noele mentioned, I'd definitely highlight your content experience. I'd also highlight any experience you have mediating, understanding people's motivations, or dealing with groups of people. Even if these were amateur, or not the main part of your job, that's going to be relevant.

You could also look for opportunities to beef up your community-building skills now! Go become a moderator on Reddit or start an online event or see if you can pitch in here.

What to Look For
Avoid companies where they want you to come up with big strategies but ALSO do a ton of work in the weeds. That never works out.

Look for a topic you can get excited about. Doesn't mean you need to currently be passionate about it, just that you think you could get interested in it; you're going to be eating and breathing it every day.

Look at the company values. Look at what people say about them on Glassdoor, and what recommendations the leadership has on LinkedIn. Does their style align with yours?

Lastly, on salary, look at the reports (I'm pretty sure CMX has one and perhaps Community Club) on average Community salary.

Good luck!

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Emily Pumm Author

Thanks for getting back to me, Evan! This is great advice. Can you clarify for me what CMX is?

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