Community Job Search Post COVID: From RIF to Hire

I have worked in the community industry for about a decade. After 2 years with one company, I was laid off due to COVID related budget cuts. Here is what I have learned and noted from my job search. Hope others find this helpful and share any of their recent experiences.

  1. Job titles still do not reflect what we do. Community Manager can be a property manager at an apartment complex, strictly social media manager, or developer relations. This impacts things like salary negotiations and search results. Glassdoor salaries do not show an accurate range because they are factoring in community property managers which is a much lower salary. One company I applied to used Glassdoor salaries to show an average pay of around $50k (very low for the tech industry). I wish we could standardize titles better (Technical Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Property Manager, Forum Moderator, Ambassador Program Manager, Regional Events Manager, etc.)

  2. Many companies are open to permanent remote hires, which were not pre-COVID. This has created a lot more opportunities for us. Even in different time zones.

  3. Due to #2, it is very competitive out there.

  4. The interview process is lengthier. Back in the pre-COVID days, you either had to be local and available for in-office interviews or at a certain stage were flown out for a day of interviews, lunch, and office tour. For a remote opportunity, I have seen interviews go from a 4-6 person interview loop to 6-10 with an average of 8. I work mainly for SaaS companies with B2B communities; this may be different for other industries or B2C communities. The interview process alone can take 2 months if they schedule 1 per week.

  5. They are not just taking your word for it. You can have years of experience, they can see your work in public facing communities, but may still be asked complete an unpaid project. This can be something simple like creating content based on an assigned topic to an extreme example where I was asked to create and present a 3-year strategy.

  6. Assessment tests composed of personality and logic based questions are more common (this may relate to #7).

  7. Culture, culture, culture. The “why should I hire you?” questions are out. I am finding it is more about whether you will fit in with the team than your skills and experience. Your prospective peers have a lot of input into whether you are hired. In some companies you could have 8 interviews, 4 or 5 with peers and all have to be in agreement. Be prepared to answer questions about how to build relationships and collaborate with remote peers.

  8. In the tech industry, communities typically resided under the support or customer success umbrella. This has changed and more fall under marketing than ever before.

  9. More companies are using tools like Calendly for scheduling which is very convenient. I wish all companies used this or something similar. Scheduling is such a challenge, even when not working. Seriously, a job search is practically a full time job in and of itself.

  10. The good news is that the community business is booming. There is not a lack of jobs out there. I received interview requests from almost 100% of the companies I applied to. The bad news is, even after multiple interviews, you still don’t hear back from 100% of these companies as to whether you are moving forward or not. I assume after 2-3 days have gone by that I am out of the loop. With technology today, at minimum they should send a boilerplate “we are moving in a different direction” email. I don’t care if I apply and never hear back (no interview), but if I have had multiple interviews, it is a common courtesy. Just as let the recruiters know if I will do not want to move forward.

Outcome: After almost 3 months, I received multiple offers. All were very good offers, making more money than my previous job. I noticed this was the only time where they sped up the interview process. I only had 4 interviews with the company I went with and they were completed in one day. There would have been more if other offers were not on the table and those offers did not have expirations dates. Since I received severance, this bought me time and I declined several opportunities that did not quite fit , i.e., the 3-year strategy.

Anyone else go through this recently? Was your experience similar or different? How so?

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Hi Serena! Thank you for sharing your learnings. The Community Management world “exploded,” and it’s indeed very competitive out there.

And as a result of this pandemic, we can work from anywhere, so the opportunities are not restricted to local people.

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Thank you for sharing. I haven’t been job searching for the last two years, so it is nice to know what are trendy and available in the market now.

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Agree, it is one of the few bright spots to come out of a dark time. Since so many companies are hiring, it seems like they are finally seeing the value community can bring.

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You are welcome @cathyjliu glad it was helpful. It is amazing how quickly things in the industry can change!

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This is great, good on you for taking the time to put this in writing. As a hiring manager in a remote tech company I can relate to a lot of what you say. A couple of things that stood out for me:

This is not ok. You should never, ever do an unpaid project and you should seriously call them out for suggesting that it might be ok to suggest. It’s not. What it is, is indicative of how much the organisation values people. Not much, is the answer.

Yeah, this. It’s so rude not to give someone closure.

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