How to Get a Community Manager Job

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a similar post, but from the opposite side: Hiring a Community Manager. This week, I’ve received emails from several people asking about how they can become an online community manager. I thought it would be a good idea to write this post for people who want to be hired into their first community manager job.

Start by reading the Hiring a Community Manager post. It has many links to blogs about online community management, the role of the community manager, community research, job boards focused on community manager positions, and much more. It will also give you insight into the thinking that employers might be doing when selecting a community manager.

There are a few things that you can do to build your expertise in community management to improve your chances of getting hired. They fall into 3 main areas.

  1. Participate. You can build a lot of expertise by participating in existing online communities as a user. Find something that you are passionate about (restaurant reviews, happy hours, guitars, underwater basket weaving, whatever), and find a community of people with similar passions. Participate in a couple of these communities, and post regularly. Use the experience as a member to see what works well and what doesn’t, and think about how you would make the community better if you were responsible for it.
  2. Share Knowledge. Take what you have learned and share it with other people. Start a blog that is focused on community management, and share what you are learning. Do research on other communities and blog about what you find. If you want to expand out past writing, you could do video / audio podcasts or other various methods to communicate about what you have learned. When you begin interviewing for community manager jobs, you will have a nice base of information to share with prospective employers, and the blog should have a prominent place on your resume.
  3. Volunteer. Help a local non profit organization build an online community and be the community manager for that new community. This could be an online community of volunteers or an online community related to the purpose of the organization. Nothing demonstrates your abilities as a community manager better than a working example that prospective employees can see in action.

I’ve focused on what I think are the 3 most important things you can do to build your community management skills. Jake McKee has a couple of good posts on this topic as well with a few more ideas, including sample courses for college students to take:

I know that quite a few community managers read this blog. What do you think? Is there something more important than these three things for someone wanting to break into the field? What would you suggest?

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

6 Responses to “How to Get a Community Manager Job”


  • Hi, Dawn. I am assisting an Austin based company in finding a Community Manager. Is is appropriate for me to post this on your blog? I would love to assist potential candidates in their job search. It’s a fairly junior level position, so not alot of experience in required.

  • Great post, very useful info – thank you Dawn.

    Can you provide examples of Non-profit communities that have thriving communities?

    I would be willing to volunteer my time as a community manager to gain experience. If anybody is looking for a community manager, please feel free to contact me directly – jkennedy8@hotmail.com

    Jonathan

  • Hi Jonathan,

    Many non-profits are without any online community at all, so it can be a good opportunity to help build something new. This is especially true for very small non-profits serving neighborhoods, churches, etc.

    Here in Portland, several of our local tech groups have online communities, the Software Association of Oregon, for example.

    A few other examples of non-profit communities:
    http://www.envirolink.org/forum/
    http://www.techsoup.org/community/index.cfm
    http://groups.nten.org/welcome.htm
    http://www.streetroots.org/

  • I saw a job posting on Craigs list yesterday for a community manager at a non-profit. It’s about raising awareness of all the good work being done by Maryknoll. The organization is based in New York, though.

  • I’ve managed several online communities and it can provide a very fulfilling work experience. I am continually amazed though by the number of online community management positions that require the prospective employee to live in the same place as the company’s office(s). Copresence is important and, perhaps, required for to get things going, perhaps needed from time to time as well. However, to make living in a particular place part of the job requirement, when the job itself is almost all done online, seems sort of ridiculous.

  • Great article as usual. I agree with Larry about the job location issue. I have been looking at blending my current skills and moving into a hybrid roll. There was a CM position in California I would have loved to have but I live in Austin and the person had to live in CA. I was willing to fly out here and there but they wanted them local. :(

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