Looking for a new gig? Apparently the market is hot for community managers. Even though the job market seems to be pretty soft these days, the demand for community managers doesn't seem to be waning.
According to ReadWriteWeb:
It's a hot job. We only expect it to get hotter. Every smart business now communicates online, with customers, with employees and with the world at large. Skilled specialists in facilitating these conversations are great people to have on staff.Seth Godin also calls it "the #1 job of the future." But, as I've pointed out in some of my talks lately: Community management isn't really new -- it's old as dirt. My grandfather on my mother's side was a Baptist preacher, and much of the work he did with his church in terms of tending to that community is directly applicable to working with a FOSS community or any community. (Granted, there's a lot of difference in the details, but the overall concept applies. Would have been great if my grandfather had blogged about his work, there would have been a lot to learn.)
Of course, "community manager," is a pretty vague job description. The job duties vary widely depending on the type of organization, and the goals of the community in question. But if you want to be a community manager you should probably plan on:
- A lot of time on public communications -- if you're a prolific blogger, comfortable being a public speaker, and enjoy meeting and talking to a lot of people -- you'll thrive. If you don't enjoy those things, community management will probably not be much fun for you.
- A lot of travel -- I spend about 50% of the time on the road. Many community managers I know spend less time, but expect to be away from home quite a bit.
- Consensus building -- the "manager" in the title is deceptive. It doesn't mean you get to bark orders, especially when working with a FOSS community that is largely volunteers.
- Event planning -- if you work in the IT industry, you'll probably be tasked with some level of event planning.
- A wide variety of duties.
- A long work-week. As Stormy Peters pointed out during an excellent talk at SCALE '08, most community managers spend 20% of their time in forums, 20% email, 20% on new features, 20% on presentations, ... until they reach about 200%. Generally speaking, this isn't a job for a clock-watcher. If you don't care about the community you serve, it won't be a good fit.
There's plenty more. Also, it's worth pointing out that many community manager jobs that are open today are new to the companies -- meaning that you'll be creating your job as you go. Be prepared to experiment, see what what works and (more importantly) what doesn't.
Any hotter jobs out there? I'm sure the job-seeking community would love suggestions...