Content Management Tidbits

Cooking and serving content for you… since 1998

“Who the Heck Am I?”

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Don’t worry, I’m not on the brink of an identity crisis. Though, job-wise, I had to face a couple.

Job hunting is a difficult task, no matter how good your CV looks and how self-confident you sound. But this is not going to be the umpteenth “land the job you always dreamt of” how-tos (if that ultimate how-to exists I’d like to read it, by the way!). I just want to reassure people working with content (CMs, editors, etc.) who are browsing job ads. I am positive they bumped into some calls for application that made them question their experience and profile — been there, done that.

Let’s make an example, taken from a popular job directory: somebody is looking for a Web Content Manager, who will manage online seasonal updates (OK), with a proven experience in working under pressure (OK), and who’s able to communicate with external suppliers (OK) on technical integration (errr… mk), has a solid knowledge of Javascript and CSS (s-s-s-olid?) and can develop widgets (!).

You can substitute Javascript and CSS with Photoshop and Flash, and “can develop widgets” with “is a Dreamweaver guru”: what they’re looking for is people working on the interface — the front end. Other times, a Content Manager is requested, but the specifications depict a Content Management System Consultant (Interwoven, WebSphere, you name it): that is, someone who works on the software that manages the content, and not on the content that’s managed by the software.

Confusing, isn’t it? Even more so, when you realize that the Dreamweaver guru will have to write the content too, and be an eagle-eye proofreader. “It must be me: I’m not skilled enough”, that’s what you’re thinking while you read the specs.

I have good news for you: there’s nothing wrong with your experience. Well, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a designer or a developer who can write and proofread, either: I am sure they have their good reasons for looking for such a profile — and if that’s you… then yay! But that doesn’t mean you have to invest your last paycheck in the animal books series or that you have to learn Ruby on Rails overnight to find a job. You must know what Ruby on Rails, or Javascript, or CSS, or CMS template mean, though. Because you are more than likely to be involved in the design process, helping the developers defining the structure of the content so that they can turn it into templates or giving your opinion on which elements the CSS should highlight in the output.

You have to be well aware of how the format you want your content to have will impact the back end (that is, the software managing it) and the front end (that is, the final output). And vice versa. You can’t let someone else decide which part of the content is important, what is the relationship between the single documents, or which elements will be used in an interface. That is the content manager’s job: you are not (only) a writer.

And if what I just wrote doesn’t make sense at all to you… you’d probably want to spend a night or two studying before you hit that “Apply for a content manager position” button.

Update: on the other hand, sometimes recruiters are not very demanding when it comes to skill sets. I just came across a listing looking for “content managers” to entry data in a CMS. We come in all sizes and shapes, don’t we?

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Written by Paola

June 5, 2008 at 8:16 am

Posted in the role

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