You can tell a lot from Community Manager Job Descriptions

May 25, 2011

Not that long ago, I posted some thoughts on Latham & Watkins hiring a Social Media Specialist, and how the job description started with the position’s compensation and also observed that “job description implies they’ve given some thought to the Social Media Specialist position.” Having read quite a few job descriptions, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can tell a lot about what a company thinks of Community Management by its Community Manager job description.

Ones that are cookie-cutter, use all the write keywords, like “content strategy,” “actively engage,” “build brand visibility” and pretty much any others you’ve read in other marketing or communications-related job descriptions. The differentiating factor between “community manager” and “communications manager” seems to be the use of social media. Heavy use of social media, to be more precise. I’ve come to use The New Community Manager Profile, from Edelman Digital, as the yard stick for evaluating Community Manager positions before forwarding such openings to friends or people I know, still out of work and for whom there might be a good fit.

And you can get a good sense of a company’s take on strategic, social and project management experience for a Community Manager, and whether the company sees it as a long-term endeavor or is merely looking to capitalize on the latest craze. I’ve noticed that most of the Community Manager job descriptions follow the same template, as it were. Do a search on Monster or CareerBuilder, and you’ll find a number of “Community Manager” openings that, except for the company name, sound an awful lot alike.  They all make an assumption, too: you either know the market, or can quickly learn the nuances of the audience. And that is where companies that take community management, and Community Managers, seriously, distinguish themselves.

One example is a Community Manager position with salesforce.com. It reads, in part:

This position stewards any content that’s thought-leadership and social media industry related and oversees the blog, webinars, podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, client profiles – anything that helps contribute valuable, educational content to our community and customers around the social media space.

Thought-leadership. Social media industry related. Valuable, education content to its community. Its community of cloud-based users. It sets the expectation parameters of the position, and spells out exactly its audience and audience expectations. And then it says:

This position also has a limited Community Manager role and does plenty of participation in the community to understand what questions and issues folks are talking about around social media, and writes/manages content contributors to ensure Salesforce has stocked and current resource library. This positions answers questions, contributes to the larger dialogue through blog comments, and participates in Salesforce outpost communities (mainly Twitter, blogs, and LinkedIn).

Translation: active engagement. Instead of using the buzzword, salesforce.com actually describes what that means! But wait, there’s more!

This role is dedicated to manning the main monitoring post for the Salesforce brand, and ensuring that those posts get to the right members of the team for engagement and response. This person’s job is to filter the posts as they come in using the Radian6 engagement console and workflow, properly tag, classify, and assign them according to our engagement playbook (which they also maintain and keep up to date to ensure consistent practices among our team). This role also includes analysis of activity in the form of reports on team activities and trends, and some direct engagement for specific types of requests for information that come in. It’s a pivotal role on the Community team, and ensures that we are always timely and present with our responses.

Translation: teamwork (cue The Wonder Pets). Another buzzword described!

Community Management is not necessarily a one person show. There are times when you simply can’t answer a question or handle a situation because you are not equipped to do so, and you are not supposed to be equipped to do so. Such situations can be anything from technical issues to sales inquiries to something random or unexpected that requires putting heads together for a solution. Companies that take community management, and Community Managers, seriously, understand this. Community Managers can be the touch point for the greater community (read: user base), and it’s important that both Community Managers and the rest of the company understand this, and the importance of the role. As the Community Manager becomes educated on the finer points of the company, product(s), etc., more of the load, be it Support, tech, sales, etc., can be shared. That 30-second “click the Export button” question can be answered by the Community Manager, saving the Support team 30-seconds it can then devote to a more complicated question.

So if you’re looking for a Community Manager position or are responsible for writing the job description, keep these things in mind. As a job candidate, asking questions during the interview might be able to help fill in the gaps from the job description. And if you’re responsible for writing the job description, asking questions ahead of time might help make the hiring process a little easier.

From either side, clarity and direction for community management can help find the best match, and ensure the community remains engaged and continues to grow.

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Latham & Watkins looking for Social Media Specialist

March 16, 2011

Imagine my shock when a job post for a Social Media Specialist appeared in my Twitter stream.

The shocking aspect was the company name, ahem, law firm name, attached to the opening: Latham & Watkins. Talk about prestige! And they want to hire a Social Media Specialist? Just one Social Media Specialist? My curiosity got the better of me so I opened the link on my Android. As I said, my curiosity got the better of me, and no, I was not driving at the time.

What immediately struck me was that the description did not start with the responsibilities of the position, but rather the position’s compensation. After all, if you are going to hire the best and the brightest, you wouldn’t want them to assume you’re hiring them for free.

Granted, that may just be their job opening template, and will certainly cater to people who are involved in social media simply to make money. All snarkiness aside, though, it is interesting that a BigLaw firm is actively looking for a Social Media Specialist. I imagine there was some debate about calling the position “specialist.” However, being able to formulate “a comprehensive social media approach that is integrated with the firm’s public relations and marketing endeavors, as well as supporting the development of the firm’s social media policies and governance” no doubt requires such specialist skills. And this is a respected law firm we’re talking about, so reputation management will no doubt be paramount. More so, I’d suspect, in light of Aflac and Chrysler. Social media backfiring, indeed.

The job description implies they’ve given some thought to the Social Media Specialist position. It doesn’t read quite like many other job descriptions for that or similar positions. It also implies they’re currently active in social media, which is up for debate. They have a Facebook Page, which is currently the firm’s Wikipedia entry. There are a couple others that are empty community pages. They have a Twitter handle, but 0 tweets. As of this posting, anyway. A search of “Latham Wakins” turns up attorneys there who tweet. Given the number of disgruntled attorneys in this economy, and the attorneys (disgruntled and otherwise) on social media, you kind of have to wonder who they will ultimately hire. The job description says nothing about having a legal background. They’re looking for what you’d expect: PR/Communications. Kind of wonder, though, what chances a lawyer-turned-pr-communications pro would have.

Take a few minutes and read the Social Media Specialist job description yourself. If nothing else, it offers a glimpse into what the future may hold for non-legal jobs. To some, that may mean “career transition.”


The Job Application Process

September 10, 2010

I’ve decided to start a new venture: documenting the Job Application Process.

Plenty of lip service has been given to creating jobs, but that is only half the battle. Applying for those jobs is the other half, and the job application process needs improvement. Experience has taught me that you can’t improve something until you know how it currently functions, so I’ve decided to blog about my experience with how it currently functions.

Suffice to say, it is tedious and full of repetition. There are a handful of third party vendors that are used, like Taleo, Kronos and BrassRing. Talking with some friends the other day, it occurred to me that I have multiple accounts with all three because every company that uses them requires you to create an account, with the hiring company, before applying. I cannot simply have an account with Taleo, Kronos and BrassRing and apply that way. I have to have an account with UC-Berkeley, BestBuy, Sears, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Disney, Time, DePaul University, University of Chicago, Harvard University, Princeton…the list keeps growing.

The technical writer in me said hey, what’s going on here? There simply has to be a better way.

And Job Application Process is the start of finding a better way, from both sides of the aisle.


A Common Job Application is Needed

August 17, 2010

It’s August. Students, teachers and administrators are heading back to school. Many will be freshmen on college campuses, and high school juniors and seniors are looking at colleges and starting the application process. An article in the New York Times talked about the Common Application for college admissions. I remember hearing about the Common Application when I was in high school, and how it simplified the process of applying to multiple schools. You basically supply all your basic information: name, address, birth date, along with your academic history, demographic information, extracurricular activities and work history. Standard information every college applications requests. The difference comes in the essays, which is what usually interests admissions officers more so than your contact information.

You know what else requests standard information like name, address, birth date, education and work history, etc? Yes, that’s right. A job application.

Regardless of whether you are applying for a position with a Fortune 500 company or the local retailer down the street, you are handed or fill out online, an identical application, with the exception of the corporate logo at the top. Unlike college, however, there is no Common Application for the job seeker. As I mentioned at the bottom of this earlier post on job applications, being able to submit the same general information once, instead of multiple times, will make the job application process easier. No need to create account after account with what essentially amounts to a handful of companies (Taleo, BrassRing, Jobvite to name a few), and continually fill in the same information.

The ability to enter standard information once will add a level of efficiency job hunting has yet to experience. Now there’s a frightening thought, no?

I’m convinced there is a better way to job hunt, from both sides of the aisle. A key ingredient is jobs, of course, but since no job board is devoid of open positions, there are jobs to be had. So it becomes a question of how to more efficiently match prospects with openings. And with millions fed up with the job hunt, simplifying the process might entice them to return while eliminating a step or two for hiring managers. If you only wanted local candidates, wouldn’t it be easier to have those applications automatically filtered out? And as a job seeker, wouldn’t you rather spend your time crafting tailored cover letters, or responses to additional questions, than filling in your name, address, phone number, email address, education and work history for the Nth time?

Perhaps a way to spur job growth in this country is to focus on improving the job application process. And perhaps a common job application is one place to start.

Thoughts?


Where is the Job Application Transparency?

December 11, 2009

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to present this, and each time I end up arguing with myself. One side tosses up the pros while the other shoots them down with the cons.

As you may know, I use Meebo to chat with people on just about every IM client, and I think it is a good model for a Web Dashboard application. I’m a fan of Meebo not only because I can talk to many people on different IM clients at once, from one window, but also because of its simplicity. It isn’t busy, like Gchat or Facebook chat. Those open up in Gmail and Facebook, respectively, which means I have to stare at my overflowing inbox and stuff people post to Facebook. Sometimes, I just want to chat without all that distraction.

Every once in awhile, I need to refresh the screen, which prompts me to log in again. That happened today, and my eyes fell on a new blog post: “Hiring Secret Sauce.” I couldn’t believe it. Was a company actually providing more than a cursory glimpse into its hiring practices? Was it, *GASP* being transparent?

Yes, as a matter of fact, it was.

Elaine states that “Without amazing hiring practices, you’ll never find or attract the team that will build amazing products,” which seems to be the mantra all companies strive for but never actually vocalize in such a succinct manner. Really. Ever notice how much text is on a corporate Careers page? And how the content often sounds boastful, like you’re a complete idiot for NOT wanting to work at such-and-such a company. It seems to me that companies would rather keep their Careers sections a secret, especially when the only way to find the section is through a Google search.

So, amazing hiring practices are necessary to attract a team to build amazing products. That almost seems like a no-brainer. It is this “amazing hiring practices,” or just “hiring practices” at all, that is puzzling. To be perfectly blunt, it’s a black hole. The Internet is overflowing with news articles, blog posts, tweets and other information about it. You send out countless resumes and receive, more often than not, one of two things as your reward: silence or the cookie-cutter rejection.

Reading about the “Meebo simulation,” then, was rather refreshing and a bit encouraging. It also seems like a common-sense approach to hiring, and one other companies might be more apt to employ.

The post describes it as this:

a 3-hour exercise that represents a typical task that someone would expect on day one in that role. For instance, a potential Visual Designer might be asked to create three icon concepts, work with the team to narrow it down to one, and then spend the remaining time polishing that concept. Just like a day-one experience, candidates are encouraged to ask questions and to consult whatever resources they’d normally have available to them (online searches, favorite books, even previous snippets of code written).

It achieves two goals: it showcases whether or not a candidate has the skills candidate claims to have, and it introduces the candidate to expected functions of the position. I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it: experience is an irreplaceable tutor.

Being told what the job functions are, even reading the job functions (so often for the same position at different companies you have them memorized), does little to prepare you for the actual work itself in the actual environment. You get that experience during the “probation” period, those first 90 days when you and the company get to know one another.

Meebo’s “simulation” takes care of that at once. Or at least it sounds like it does. You basically get to be a Meebo Employee for a day, which seems to be more effective than shadowing, or going through round after round of interviews and the other, standard hiring methods. Meebo immediately caters to your strengths, which presumably are why you applied for a particular position.

It strikes me as a fresh approach to job hunting, from the other side of aisle. I still think there is a better way to look for a job than endlessly sending out resumes, networking and other standard methods. For one, being able to submit a resume to one, or all, of the software recruiting firms (Taleo, BrassRing) instead of creating account after account at different corporations, educational institutions and the like, would make a difference. That discussion, however, I will save for a later post.

Suffice to say, there is now a glimmer of hope in bringing transparency to the job application process.