5 tips for standing out from the community manager applicant crowd

I started working in the social media space 7 years ago. While a lot has changed since then on the job front one thing is a depressing constant. Hiring managers have no clue what they’re looking for. The professionalization of the industry has actually made this worse. When I started out- basically being in your 20s and knowing how to pull up a free analytics tool could land you a job. Social media was low cost and high reward.

Now it’s different- sort of. Hiring managers know that they should be looking for more but they’re still not sure what. So you end up with bizarre Frankensteined job descriptions saying everything and nothing. Meanwhile on the job seeker side things aren’t much better. In a world where your best work is designed to vanish in 24 hours how are you supposed to demonstrate your value? How do you figure out which skills to invest time in when job descriptions seem to depend on the latest trend? (Remember when everyone demanded you have experience running Snapchat campaigns?)

The way to stand out is to take charge of your story. Decide what you want your path to be and then make sure that comes through in everything you do during the job search. Be the professional in an often informal and unprofessional situation. It’s a great way to stand out and is a great way to demonstrate what you bring to the table. Let’s face it- most marketing departments are noisy and disorganized. By being the super organized and professional applicant, you highlight additional strengths you’ll bring to the table once you get the job.

Taking control begins with your resume and LinkedIn.

  1. Be data driven- go through everything you’ve done and find numbers. Even if they’re estimations always include numbers they show hiring managers that you understand the importance of data- not just hype
  2. Emphasize your skills. Community management means being a multi tool. Make a list of everything you do and reword it to generalize your skills to other marketing roles. For example: Responding to twitter DMs= first touch customer service and triage, social media audits = data storytelling, creating and scheduling posts= content marketing
  3. Be crystal clear about your category. There are types of community managers and in 2019 most jobs are looking for you to be a specialist rather than a generalist. I’ve listed a few typical categories in the table below. You’re probably a combination of these- that’s fine! Go back through everything you’ve done and start to build a resume around each. You want it to SCREAM your specialization.
  4. Support it with LinkedIn. Think of your LinkedIn profile as supporting documentation for everything on your resume. Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations. I try to ask for a coworker and manager at everyplace I’ve been. Be sure to put your best foot forward. Add links to work you’ve done. If you already blog, crosspost the ones you’d like a hiring manager to see to linkedin pulse for added visibility. Even if they don’t read it, just having them there will register.
  5. Know the market, what you’re looking for and where to find it! Have a dream of managing the Wendy’s handle? Don’t apply to Wendy’s! It’s outsourced to an agency. Want to do work with nonprofits or the arts as a community manager? Again- probably going to be an agency. Want to work for a particular brand? Look through all their marketing, comms, customer experience positions to get a sense of where they are in their digital journey. Few companies are hiring community managers but they may be hiring content marketers or analytics specialists. Talk to your connections not just to get a job opportunity – get intel from them about the type of candidate they look for. Use the opportunity to learn about their process – it can help you read the signs later on!
CMGR TypeMusts
Enjoy wordplay, Love Grammar, have graphic design experience
Be very patient, Detail- oriented, Good in a crisis
AnalystPivot table geek, Data visualization, Stickler for statistics
Campaign/ Event Strategist Problem solver, Strong presentation skills, Planner

I hope this has been useful. I’ve been on the market quite a few times and I know how scary and overwhelming it can be. It’s a huge irony that exuding confidence is a the key to getting past the vulnerability of unemployment. It’s definitely a case of fake it until you make it- and one killer way to fake it is to take control of your search.

Check out part two of this series where I go into some of the nuances of applying to startups versus agencies versus big brands.