ASK: How do I hire a community manager?

(This is part of Ask the Community Guy, an ongoing series of questions posed by readers for Jake, the Community Guy)

If you’re interested in more information about hiring or becoming a community manager, check out this collection of entries where I cover the topic in further detail.


Questionvia …well… many people over the years How do I hire a community manager? Where do I post job openings?

Answer:
These days, that’s the 10 million dollar question! The reason I created the Community Guy Jobs Board is that I had regular requests from people for help finding community minds.

The problem with filling community positions at the moment is that there’s not a huge talent pool to pick from. That’s not to say that there’s not people smart enough to do the work, just that there’s not enough of them to go around. There’s not the same level of “open” talent swirling around the industry that many other positions/roles might have. Looking for a project manager? Lots of those. Community managers, not so much.

Here’s a few ideas on how to address this issue.

Hire young then teach
This is pretty standard stuff – find someone hungry to learn and teach the hell out of them. Look for someone with bad ass communication skills, a crazy hunger to learn, and an existing knowledge of online community activities.

With community work, this is tough unless there’s an existing community team that they can learn from. Otherwise, I’d strong suggest that you hire a consultant (me or someone like me) to act as a “trainer”. Even then, it’s going to be tough, and you’ll have to cut them some slack while they learn.

Hit the circuit
Community people like to well… commune. Between Twitter, Social Media Club, LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts, and conferences, there’s tons of opportunity to meet community people. When a talent pool is small and the demand is high, poaching is in order. Get out of the office, skip the job boards, get out into the world and start meeting people. Use community to find community people.

Pull a member of the existing community
Often the best talent pool is not with “community experts”, it’s within the existing community. Reaching out to existing community members and community leaders can help you find quality candidates. (Or through those folks, at least introductions to other members within the community) Even if the candidate lacks various business skills you might be looking for, this is very often a better choice than the other choices. Because they come from the community, the community often cuts them more slack through the learning process.

Hire a recruiter
I know a lot of companies don’t like to hire recruiters thinking they’re too expensive, but again, small talent pool and tons of demand. You’re going to have to spend the money somewhere!

Look outside your industry
Smart community people should, theoretically, be able learn an industry relatively quickly. Sure, if you can find a talented community person within your industry, great! But if it were that easy, you wouldn’t be reading this.

Understanding community is understanding human nature, sociology, and group dynamics. How specialized is your industry, really? Chances are, if you find the right profile, industry knowledge is less important. Certainly a stay-at-home moms community may benefit from a mother, or at least a woman as the community manager. But does she need to have professional experience in your industry? Not if she’s a sharp community mind.

Want to know more about what’s involved in the community manager role? Check out Jeremiah’s Four Tenets of the Community Manager.

UPDATE: The discussion continues!

UPDATE 2: Great article about 12 tips for hiring a community manager.


If you’d like to submit a question to the Community Guy, check out the submission details.