Community Manager Seeking Dream Job 2.0

As many of you probably know, Moz laid off 28% of its full-time employees. Including me. Including not just my fellow community managers, but many of my closest colleagues, from developers to office managers.

Women at Moz

7 out of 10 people and 1 dog in this photo are for hire!

The story of Dream Job 1.0

What many people likely don’t know is that working at Moz was my dream job. Back in 2006/07, I discovered the e-commerce site I worked on really needed this thing called SEO. I stumbled upon then SEOmoz’s blog and the well-loved Beginner’s Guide to SEO. I dug in. Everyone on the blog seemed so smart , and little did I know that most of them were in the same boat as me, figuring this stuff out. When I started looking for a new job, I thought “wow, it’d be so cool to work at Moz.”

I spent the next two years knocking on various Moz doors. Sure, I applied some other places — but nothing much panned out. Height of the recession and all. Then I landed an interview with Moz in their cramped offices above the Elysian Brewery as they prepared to move to their first Downtown Seattle location. I interviewed with Adam Feldstein and a couple other folks. I was elated to be given the opportunity.

Spoiler alert: I wasn’t hired. Adam told me I wasn’t quite the right fit job-wise, but he thought I’d make a great Mozzer. He encouraged me to apply again.

Most people don’t try again. But I did. For another role on Adam’s team, which I only made it to a phone interview.

Okay, I’d tried. It didn’t work. Instead, I co-founded an all-volunteer nonprofit called GeekGirlCon. I kept reading, learning, and even bravely answering some Moz Q&A questions.

This newfangled social network called G+ launched, and I poked around on it a bit. Followed this guy Rand Fishkin, seemed kind of cool. (Obviously, I knew who he was.) He posted about this hard-to-fill, ridiculous role called Community Attaché. This person needed to have both community building skills and enough SEO chops to help community members. When I was read the description, I thought “holy mother of god, that’s actually a job I’m super qualified for.” Rand asked applicants to email him directly.

I nervous, late-night typed out an email cover letter to Rand. I made some jokes, talked about my skill set, how I loved the community, how I was working to put on this GeekGirlCon convention (outcome TBD at the time), and read it over 100 times. I was sure I’d call him “Fishking,” which to this day, I always type out and then hit the backspace.

After just 10 short hours of interviews later — including not recognizing Jen Sable Lopez from her profile photo and the joint interrogation of Casey Henry and Cyrus Shepard — I was hired for Dream Job 1.0.

Casey, Jen, and Erica eat ice cream

Casey, Jen, and I shortly after I started at Moz.

Now, a lot of life has happened since I sent Rand that email and today. 5 years at Moz in dog years is 33 years. Dream Job 1.0 had lots of kinks, sometimes no clear path, and was not always the land of cupcakes. (Though Jen is the queen of making cupcakes appear.) It took those 5 Moz years to carve out, refine, build authority, build relationships, learn, a/b test, etc., my Dream Job 1.0. It was still the Dream Job.

Beyond all the obvious sadness around being laid off, the work left undone or almost there will haunt me the most. That said, last spring, I internally proposed Dream Job 2.0.

Dream Job 2.0 background

Besides the excess Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek trivia my brain leaks, I’m primarily passionate about two things—social justice and community building. (If you just rolled your eyes, we’re probably not meant to be.)

In the past six months, I’ve been doing career coaching. We talk a lot about about “hey, 10 years in online marketing, how now brown cow?” My strengths finder profile points to responsibility, future orientation, achievements, always learning, and collecting information. Basically, Starfleet, I’m ready to sign up. In my ideal world, I’m a space traveling social justice warrior, leading my team in being responsible for our actions, while learning from others, about ourselves, and about the universe. Apparently, reciting Captain Picard’s speech about how you don’t need money and you now focus on improving yourself to your bank doesn’t pay the mortgage.

Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve built communities, and those communities had a deeper purpose than a product to sell. Which turns out to be how you build community. And it turns out, when you build communities with intentional inclusion and normalizing — as TV show runner genius Shonda Rhimes calls actual diversity efforts — you build them to be stronger, more long lasting, and much more vibrant. You don’t have to, say, shut down your comments because they aren’t even reflective of your actual audience. (Cough, NPR.) You grow ideas and viewpoints.

The very wonderful aspect about being at an organization for 5 years, especially as a community builder, is getting to nurture programs to a future vision and getting to deeply know people, both coworkers and the community. That first MozCon I ran: no way I could’ve pushed through a code of conduct or gender neutral restrooms. (In fact, the first time code of conduct was brought up, it was turned down.) Instead, it was about improving with each iteration. It was saying, okay, let’s program gender balance. Got that. What’s next?

Myself and others at MozCon

Relaxing post-conference with Moz community members.

Moz community member and my friend Sam Scott wrote about how the Moz community impacted his own journey. His story, I’m happy to say, isn’t unique. I worked with hundreds of speakers, authors, Q&A question answerers, event attendees, tweeters, and more. Meeting new to me and new to Moz people. Finding unique voices. Finding people with different backgrounds, stories, and solutions. Seeing them get jobs, clients, speaking gigs, writing opportunities, and more. Mentoring junior team members, or more often, watching team members take off with an idea and do it 20 billion times better than I could’ve.

For the past year or so, I’ve struggled to explain to people exactly what I do. “What does your day-to-day look like?” hasn’t been a question I can answer. Everything I do is community building — the actions themselves are only the catalyst to take the community member or the team member to the next level of what they need, want, desire. I promote people. And one of my deepest fears in job hunting is that while I’m very good at promoting others, I’m often not so great about promoting myself.

The point I never considered about being laid off — especially from work I loved — is everything left undone. Those community members on the list to tap for future MozCons and webinars. The recordings of podcasts we made, but never launched. The business case for Q&A I watched evolve from enthusiasm. The internal class I helped teach on How to Be An Ally. How I never got to the perfect MozCon lineup. My pile of half-written blog posts.

I want to go somewhere I can community build. Where I can launch in with all the lessons and skills I’ve learned to apply to events, forums, webinars, podcasts, etc. Where I can build relationships and bridges with and between community members and staff. Where I can make diversity and inclusion, not just a thing we talk about, but an action and a practice.

I’d love to bring Dream Job 2.0 to your organization. Let me tell you about it.

What: Senior Community Inclusivity Manager

Why: To take real actions instead of pay lip service to diversity and inclusion in our communities. To grow in my career with purpose. To add value and share my expertise amongst a greater segment of a company’s projects. To continue to refine and match my passions. To explicitly grant authority on diversity and inclusion efforts at a company.

Location: Seattle or remote

Time breakdown:

75% community focused – events, webinars, podcast, forum, etc.
20% in-house projects and mentorship
5% industry – public speaking, blogging, etc.

Community focused:

Events / Webinars

  • Overall strategy
  • Attendee and speaker experience
  • Speaker selections, research, and vetting
  • Working with speakers on topics and reviewing presentation content
  • Mentoring / helping others with speaker reviews, general event running, promotional assistance, and editing
  • Hosting and emceeing
  • Day of event work

Podcast

  • Overall strategy
  • Coordination and selection of guests
  • Doing interviews and other content creation
  • Editing
  • Promotion

Forum

  • Overall strategy
  • Team management
  • Work with developers for improvements
  • Encourage and promote community members

Other

  • Overall community strategy
  • Open to management, but am most happy doing creative projects
  • Whatever else needed for this community

In-house company projects and mentorship:

  • Champion, help, and mentor those working on projects which need diversity/inclusion perspective
  • Coordinate and facilitate a group of coworkers focused on diversity/inclusion initiatives, if this is not already happening
  • Help each other to build momentum and voice for our projects
  • Take company initiatives that loosely say “diversity” and define the work, 1-3 projects per quarter
  • Be a voice for diversity and inclusion in company planning

Industry:

  • Speaking at marketing and community manager events
  • Attending events or speaking at events focused on diversity to spread word about company
  • Regular blog posts
  • Other discussions (Twitter chats, interviews, press, whatever needed)

General disclaimers and expressed concerns:

  • I’m not the be all, end of solution to diversity/inclusion at any company. How do I keep this clear?
  • Want coworkers and community members who constructively disagree with me to tell me.
  • Need “permission” not to just own, but grant others ownership, include them in plans, and make waves together.
  • Will need planning and money for more education in areas I’m not as educated on.
  • Be empathetic and listen to coworkers’ concerns, but not provide a forum for destructive conversations (example: “we only hire the ‘best’ people” convos).

My biggest concern — I’ve never seen this job out there. Community management as a disciplined practice is newer. Diversity and inclusion work in companies is also newer. It makes it exciting, and it makes it terrifying, for both of us. And so rewarding when we can make it work.

Me at MozTalk Boston

I’m ready for Dream Job 2.0.

Please make Dream Job 2.0 a reality and hire me. Let’s talk about how community building with a focus on diversity and inclusion will help your business, your mission, and your community.

About Erica

Erica McGillivray spends too much contemplating the socioeconomic importance of the bananaphone. Ring, ring, ring. Bananaphone. She loves cats, soap opera plots in comic books, and dreams of flying in the stars. Erica loves being a community manager.
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8 Responses to Community Manager Seeking Dream Job 2.0

  1. Sherrie says:

    “What does your day-to-day look like?” <— I always laugh when I get asked this one. Best of luck in your search for Dream Job 2.0, Erica!

    • Erica says:

      It is a really funny question for anyone who’s not doing a very strict role or job with limited scope and responsibility.

      Thanks, Sherrie. Appreciate all your support!

  2. ronell smith says:

    Brands looking to hire Erica should know a few things she did not mention above, but that are very important should you endeavor to hire her.

    Strength(s): Erica is the rare person who does a lot of things exceedingly well. But what makes her a true unicorn is her ability to get others to reach heights they never dreamed possible. She has a way of pushing people to excel without being mean, pushy or annoying. I’ve worked with her on numerous projects; in every instance I’ve walked away thinking “She handled that better than I thought possible.” She’s also a fantastic leader, able and willing to coordinate, facilitate and get her hands dirty with the team; handles stressful situations like they’re par for the course; has a knack for developing others; can delegate like the best project manager; and is a whiz at taking tough projects from A-Z.

    Weakness: She does not like being complimented, something I see as her way of saying “I expect the same excellence from myself that I expect from others I work with.”

    • Erica says:

      Even though compliments are my weakness, I appreciate everything you’ve said. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you these past few years. <3

  3. Larry kim says:

    Wow what a great story of how you found the job. I didn’t know how much you worked on it but am not surprised. -Larry

    • Erica says:

      🙂 I was just on the cusp of when Rand and Sarah still interviewed every single candidate and the full marketing team interviewed any marketers. Different times.

  4. Lucas Ng says:

    Good luck Erica, these jobs are rare but they are out there!

    In Australia, we are well regarded for our diversion and inclusion practices so I do see these types of jobs posted occasionally, usually with an Organisational Development aspect rather than a Community Management focus.

    I’m sad that it’s taken this long to get me over to a Mozcon to finally meet you and all the other awesome Mozzers (my only physical memory of Seattle SEOMoz is the old building and when there were less than 25 staff!) but I look forward to catching up nonetheless and wish you all the best luck in looking for Dream Job 2.0

    • Erica says:

      Thanks, Lucas!

      Yeah, I don’t really know of anyone who’s doing this type of work specifically in community management, which is part of the reason behind this post.

      I’m glad that you’re able to make it this year. (I still haven’t visited your lovely country!) See you soon. 🙂

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