If you’re looking for your first job as a community manager, the best piece of advice I can give you is not to get too caught up in the shiny job description.

The second best piece of advice I can offer is that you embark on your journey with a clear understanding of the fact that it can be a very lonely gig and quite the emotional rollercoaster.

To be fair, I will acknowledge that job descriptions by their very nature are meant to be exciting, and persuasive with all of those imaginative  action verbs that make you feel like it will be the most fulfilling job of your career if you were so lucky to land it.

But there are a few things to consider about this role, particularly if it is a new position at the company.

  • There’s a good chance that no one within the organization has ever held this job – even the hiring manager – so they have no idea of what you will encounter.
  • The term “ambassador” is widely overused and rarely means what you think it does.
  • There are widespread misconceptions about the qualifications needed to be successful.
  • Members can and do, go rogue.
  • You may face  very hurtful name-calling.
  • You could quite possibly end up being the only person internally, who cares.

You will never find any of this in a job description, and I’m sure you can understand why. I get asked all the time about how to break into this field  and what qualifications and skills one needs to succeed.  My best answer to-date was used in this article on Mashable:

…“I’m talking about razor-sharp interpersonal communication skills, the ability to exhibit an enormous amount of tact, an extremely thick skin and a boatload of compassion for people you would rather not give an ounce. Did I mention grace under pressure, courage under fire, openness to criticism and tolerance beyond belief?”

If you don’t possess those skills, think twice before hitting apply, because trust me…you will need them  all.

My main point here is this isn’t a glamorous job and I am increasingly seeing it depicted that way, which I find a bit troubling.

So before you dive in head first, reach out to some community managers or former community managers and get their perspective. Talk to people who have managed a variety of online communities.

That way, when you read your next irresistible job description, you’ll be able to read between the lines.