What Would D-Mac Do


Monday, January 3, 2011

Be Part of Our Winning Team!!

I’ve been working with a couple friends on Linkedin and through various sequences of IM’s on landing careers in the search industry. Unfortunately these two live outside of areas I actually have any personal connection so we’re using the want-ad method, in the various 21st century modes. It’s actually been a good many years since I’ve actively sought out a gig myself, but I HAVE been on the other side of the interview table many times. I assume if you peruse Craigslist, SEMPO, the SEOmoz job board or any other medium, that there are a few parameter ranges a candidate needs to adhere to if they are to be allowed into the presence of other SEM’s in a professional environment. There are some ads written in ways that so narrowly define the acceptable resume that there is absolutely no possible way they could get anyone but a 65 year old Fortran Junkie with CRM Certification and a masters in Business Administration with bachelors in Computer Science with an emphasis on Perl that tweets all day long.

The following are some actual lines I’ve seen in job listings in SEOmoz, Craigslist and SEMPO in the past couple of months. In the interests of objectivity, names/source is left off to protect the innocent (or punish the guilty, however you want to look at it).

“Must Be Google Adwords Certified”

I understand the premise of this requirement, but it’s always limiting. Why just adwords? What about their Analytics test? What about any number of the other equally challenging certifications out there? Not to mention, the only people who really care about this are agencies. Any of the independent affiliate marketers out there who have forgotten more about running an adwords campaign than most Adword Certificate holders know couldn’t pass the muster on this one.

“Must Be Motivated”

I love when I see this one on an industry specific board. Dude, if I respond to your ad that I happened on from MarketingPilgrim, doesn’t that kind of imply motivation? “Well I was going to respond to this ad that I obviously have to know something about the industry to have even come across, but I’m not motivated so…”

The other thing I have with this is that it's premise is to weed out the flakes. I got news for you dude..most flakes don't actually know they are flakes. The biggest flake in this business that I'm aware of is convinced he is, in actual fact, the most productive person ever.

“Must have at least 6 years of search agency experience”

The fact there’s always some arbitrary number is amusing to me. Why not 7? What if they only have 5? For starters, if you have more than two years of experience in the search agency industry, you’re already more experienced than 75% of the professionals in this field. Not to mention anybody who was actually in this business 6 years ago knows that most search professionals were operating in house because agency fees didn’t allow for the kind of salaries one could earn in-house. Any of the Orbitz employees who were at Orbitz all this time in their search department would make an awesome fit for any search firm specializing in the travel industry.

“Must have a bachelor’s degree. Masters preferred. “

I understand the logic behind this. It’s a thinly veiled way of eliminating lazy people from the list. It’s not really all that effective at it. I mean if you are Google adwords certified, you have demonstrable motivation and you’ve been working at a search agency for 6 years, does it really matter what you spent your early 20’s doing? Or mid-late 20’s throwing money at a masters degree? It’s not like subject matter experts in our industry necessarily come out of the higher-education realm anyway. I certainly can speak for my own college experience in saying neither SEO or SEM tactics or principles have a thing to do with how I obtained my marketing degree (to be fair, that degree predates the industry entirely, but that’s kind of my point). Let me put it another way, if your social media/word-of-mouth agency posts an ad with this requirement, you know who couldn’t respond? Mark Zuckerberg. Hope your Business Intelligence Department doesn’t mind passing on Robert Scoble. Want to hire somebody to head up your SEO department? Rand Fishkin is out of the question. Guess the president of your Digital Agency won’t be Sergei Brinn or Larry Page if somebody who bothered to actually earn their masters degree is in the running. I mean really now, are we still pretending that formal education is a barrier to entry for people with brilliant minds for search?

“Demonstrated Success”

This is an interesting statement because “success” is a subjective term. I suppose technically anybody who’s managed to put a phrase in a title tag and see it show up at the top of a search engine result page has “demonstrated success”. Being me, I take it to mean “Don’t apply unless you’ve increased revenue from natural search by at least 50% in a six month window for an e-commerce client” but I suppose it could just as easily mean “Uploaded an XML sitemap to my root directory”. Lot of wiggle room.

“Frequent Contributor and Speaker at Industry Events”

You see some variation of this for account or upper management positions. While I certainly agree that there is a degree of participating in the industry required in order for somebody to be a card carrying member, most industry speakers worth a shit (I quantify that as being one who speaks at events because the event knows their name carries weight) don’t go trolling want ads. They don’t find you, you find them when it comes to career changes. When Greg Jarboe decides he’s had enough of running SEO-PR, he won’t look far to plot out his next move. That’s because all that time he’s spent building up credibility on the speaking circuit has garnered him enough contacts that he won’t need to go outside his own circle to make that move. I would go so far as to say it’d give me pause for anybody who claims to be a frequent speaker that didn’t already come recommended.

“Our Greatest Asset is our People”

I guess that’s heartwarming and all, but like, no shit that’s your greatest asset if you’re an agency. What were you going to say? “Our Greatest Asset is the Keurig Machine, followed by our kickass Sharepoint Deployment!” Really, if you have to point this out….

“Online Presence Such as a Blog or Facebook Profile”

This tends to go hand in hand with the one about contributing to industry events. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing but it shouldn’t be a disqualifier either. First off, most search professionals are savvy enough that their personal Facebook Profiles and Linkedin data isn’t out in the open for anybody. Secondly, many of the savviest search professionals don’t go blogging all day long because they are too busy making money for their clients. I mean really, if somebody has a proven track record and is dependable, does it matter what they do in their spare time? “Well it’s great you increased natural conversions by 50% for 80% of your clients in the past six months and your client is the top e-retailer for punk rock clothes, but this lack-of-a-Facebook-profile thing is really unacceptable”

I could riff on these for hours. Ultimately, my point is that there really is no one-size-fits all resume for the next SEO/SEM rockstar. They come in all shapes and all sizes.

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