Hiring a Community Manager

Hiring a Community Manager


Three of our most recent podcasts (#29, #30, #31), focus on community building – episode 29 with Enplug talks about using digital tools to support community-building and the next two episodes feature interviews with coworking space owners that put a lot of thought into the process of building community in a way that works for a given population. At the heart of community building is the Community Manager. Let’s talk about that role and how to hire for it. If you’re looking for a sample job description, drop us your email address and we’ll let you know when our new Resource Hub is live (May 15th!)

What title should you give your community manager?  

While Community Manager has become an industry-standard title, there’s plenty of discussion on how the verb “manage” doesn’t align with the intent of the role. The goal is for this person to serve as a connector, to listen, to know who needs what, and to help members to help each other solve problems.  The role is to help the community to help itself to flourish.  But in practical terms, while the job title doesn’t don’t necessarily embrace the name as a true embodiment of the role, “Community Manager” is what I’d use in the job description to get the most eyeballs.

Job description?  

The other misnomer here is that you are hiring someone to spend every moment facilitating community. That utopia likely doesn’t exist, even for larger spaces. The person in this role is probably also wearing marketing and operations hats, even if those are subordinate to their community focus. Make sure your job description reflects this accurately. Consult with an attorney on the appropriate employment classification to avoid liability (a.k.a getting your bad self sued for not paying overtime).

Where should you post the job?

The quality of applicants may depend on where you post.  I posted ads on Craigslist and Indeed and I posted to my network on LinkedIn.  On Indeed, I tried a pay-per-click package that gave my job posting priority and exposed it more often to users of the site.  I quickly spent $160 on candidates that didn’t read the simple instructions on the first line of my application which were to include a cover letter and to address it to my name. When I stopped paying for clicks, the quality of the candidates went up.   My hypothesis is that paying for clicks gets more eyeballs, but people who are actively searching for a job are looking through the listings in greater detail and will find you even if you are further down on the search results pages.

What’s a good framework for a hiring process?

If a candidate followed my instructions and seemed qualified, I sent them a message giving them 24 hours to complete a series of video questions through theSparkhire app.  I had never done this step before – I typically go straight to a phone screen. Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words and a Sparkhire video response is worth a thousand phone screening calls.  The next round was a Skype interview with me and then I had my current community manager do in-person interviews (because I couldn’t get to Chicago quickly enough to do them myself).  This process helped me hire a new manager quickly enough for my outgoing manager to train her. Clearly you don’t want to sacrifice quality just to get the manager trained by the outgoing manager, but it’s optimal if your process supports it.

What drives manager turnover?  

Everyone should be working in the role or company that should be the best fit for them at the time.  By the nature of the job, your community managers will have a lot of exposure to people who are or will be hiring.  People like to hire people they know, like and trust – your members will come to know, like and trust your community manager and may try to poach him or her.  To avoid this issue, you may want to put a clause in your membership agreement and your employment agreement that says something about not poaching any employees of your company. Or you may take the free market stance and keep your manager challenged and happy for as long as possible and then support her if she gets an advancement opportunity with a member company.

Setting expectations before making the offer  

Depending on the size of your space, your manager might be a team of one. This may be a new experience for your candidate. Make sure to paint a clear picture, to sell the benefits of wearing many hats, learning at an accelerated speed and being a formidable candidate when they’re ready to move on, but also make sure he/she understands the reality of what that looks like day-to-day and that the setup is a fit.

Do you have a hiring tip to share? Drop us a line in the comments section!

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