Do You Have the Traits of a Dedicated SEO Specialist?
SEO and online marketing agencies really want the best candidates to fill their SEO specialist positions whether they are a small business or work within a large corporation. But what skills are CEO’s of online marketing firms looking for when they hire search engine optimization specialists and social media marketers?
Here are the skills and traits that other online marketing firms won’t tell you about their hiring practices.
1. Gender doesn’t matter. Although online marketing falls under IT and technology and marketing, which some believe has been a male dominated field. It’s not anymore. More women owned businesses, including SEO/SEM firms are sprouting up across the country, hire both men and women who have the necessary skills. However, most women are more organized and detail oriented than their male counterparts. Therefore, women tend to be more successful in this field.
2. Education IS important. 21st century job candidates are expected to have a degree. Some companies will hire candidates with an AS degree, but more reputable firms are looking for those who have a BA/BS degree in journalism, education, creative writing, Web design or a concentration in one of these fields. SEO is all about writing, not just marketing. A candidate with just a marketing or PR degree is not always a good writer. Companies want candidates who have very specific skills such as writing and editing.
3. Life experience IS important. Those who are applying for SEO/Social media jobs have an upper edge who have more life experience. How does one get experience in life? Candidates who have traveled across the country and overseas have a better understanding of people, culture and community. Those who have worked and/or lived in different cities and states also bring more to a position than those who haven’t. We have one employee who lived and worked in New Jersey who understands metropolitan life, harsh winters and how to get along with non-native English speakers. While we have another employee who spent considerable time overseas working with people who didn’t speak English at all as well as lived and worked in 7 other states. And yet another employee who has visited friends from coast to coast. It’s where you’ve been and what you have done that will set yourself apart from other candidates.
4. SEO experience is NOT as important as other skills. Many online marketing firms have a non-compete agreement, which means you cannot work for another similar firm or freelance the same type of work for a set period of time and/or distance. While it may seem advantageous to hire a competitor’s former employee, you’ll spend more time (and money) molding that person into the SEO marketing specialist that your company wants and values. Other skills and traits are more valuable than experience in SEO.
5. Active engagement with social media and networking has its advantages. Take a look at 10 possible candidates for one SEO position, 7 have at least one social network profile, 4 have at least two social network profiles and 2 are actually using their social network profiles on a regular basis. Social media marketers know that it’s easier and less time consuming to train someone who knows how to post wall updates and write messages in 140 characters or less with a shortened URL than those who don’t.
6. Attention to detail is VERY important. This is one of the traits that online marketing agencies really want to see and know about job candidates, and may even test candidates during the interviewing process for this trait. Since so much of SEO depends on what happens outside a Web site, it’s vital that SEO writers take the extra few seconds to review their work, before submitting to other sites online, which usually cannot be redone. A misspelling, typo, misplaced apostrophe or repeated word can all have unfavorable consequences for both the online marketing company’s reputation and the employee’s job security. Having an anal-ness for perfection is a much sought-after trait in this field.
7. Adapts to changes quickly and easily. Sounds like a line from a college student’s resume, but it is another trait that SEO firms really value. You know the Web is constantly changing, and you want your employees to stay on top of trending topics, news and changes too. This means when the winds change direction, while you are going with the flow, you must adapt quickly and take control of the sails. If not, you’ll be shipwrecked or you will lose your crew. SEO candidates, whether they agree with a change in the system or not, must be able to change on cue without question. (Any qualms about company policy should be directed to the CEO/President or brought up in a staff meeting.)
8. Meets or exceeds deadlines. Another typical resume phrase, but again in this field tasks are always changing and others are thrown at you with little warning. Project and account managers get the weekly/monthly “to do” list from the CEO and then something comes up before week’s end that needs to be done ASAP. All systems stop, and you have to handle the five alarm fire, until all is clear again. It’s better to have an employee who knows how to handle his/her time efficiently.
9. Corporate etiquette IS a must. Common sense and business etiquette are very important when looking for the right fit candidates for SEO/SEM positions. Applicants who have never worked in the public sector need to brush up on business/corporate etiquette and company expectations. It’s the difference between knowing the employee handbook and what’s not written, but is expected. Examples include answering the phone, sending emails, greeting prospective clients as well as talking about the company online through social networks. Each SEO firm has its own policy; however, there are some general rules to know and follow.
10. Accepts criticism without excuses. Recent college graduate applicants will most likely complain less about their work assignments, than more experienced applicants. Why? They want to learn and impress their new employer. However, someone who is already set in his/her ways about accomplishing a task may be less open to change. This is not a generalization, but an observation. True, many experienced candidates do accept criticism of their work and are able to adapt as needed, but some do not.
What are your thoughts about the personality traits and skills for finding the best candidate for an SEO, SEM or social media marketing position?