If you’re an avid reader of this blog you’ll know we’ve already looked at some of the most common mistakes job seekers make when applying for graduate online marketing jobs and social media jobs – so today I thought it was time I turned my attention to a different part of the industry… and one that’s very close to my heart. I’m talking about SEO jobs.
As one of the fastest growing niches in the digital industry, SEO jobs are pretty plentiful at the moment – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy to get – far from it! In fact, I’d say SEO jobs are tougher to get than ever before these days. Why? Because more and more businesses are finally starting to understand how important good SEO is for their brand which means they’re looking for someone very specific to fill that SEO vacancy.
If you’ve been applying for search engine optimisation jobs left, right and centre but not been having much luck, it might be time to review your approach. After chatting to a few of our clients and some industry folks, I’ve put together a list of the ten main reasons candidates don’t get shortlisted for SEO jobs.
1. Wrong Commercial Experience: Yes, you might have a few years of commercial experience under your belt but there’s a chance it might be the wrong kind. Hmm, but surely there can’t be that much of a difference between agency SEO and in-house SEO? Sorry, but there is – and if an employer is looking for someone with agency experience, there’s a slim chance they’ll be willing to accept someone who only has in-house (aka client-side) experience and vice versa.
2. All Talk, No Action: A number of people I spoke to agreed that the top reason they discounted candidates was because they could only “talk the talk”, not “walk the walk”. With a subject like SEO, it’s easy to say the right things and read the right blogs, but it’s proven hands-on experience that really counts. If you’ve not got hands-on experience of creating SEO campaigns, getting your hands by dirty building links and tweaking onsite elements, you’ll struggle to really catch an employer’s eye.
Similarly, if you’re referring to yourself as an SEO ‘guru’, ‘expert’ or ‘digital marketer’ on your CV and cover letter and you’ve got nothing to back it up, you’re just making a fool of yourself. Lastly, “experience” doesn’t always refer to commercial experience – if you can provide examples of work you’ve done on your blog or websites, you’ll stand out from other candidates who haven’t shown the same initiative!
These are the kinds of SEOs employers want right now and by just regurgitating the latest SEO blogs from Moz and SearchEngineLand on your cover letter, you’re showing employers you haven’t got the imagination or inclination to really make a difference and you’re showing that you’re really no different to the other candidates that are applying.
4. CV Littered With Keywords: Got the words “SEO”, “link building”, “analytics” and “AdWords” in your CV? Then you must be onto a winner… or not! Yes, it’s important to get keywords into your CV but as an SEO professional, you should already know no one likes spam!
5. No Interest In The Industry: Everyone has to start somewhere and entry-level jobs are a great way to get into the industry but guess what? SEO is a hot industry right now and you’ve got lots of competition so you need to show you’ve actually got at least some kind of interest in the industry.
Remember, when it comes to SEO, passion counts for a lot – Jon Walker from Spindogs said he recently chose one candidate over another who had more knowledge because the former had such a clear passion for the industry.
6. Lack Of Related Skills: OK, so you might be brilliant at on-site SEO and link building but if you don’t know much about Google Analytics, AdWords or SEM in general, you could find yourself out of the running for a number of SEO jobs.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, these days, 9 times out of 10, digital employers aren’t just looking for a specialist in one area; they want someone who can multi-task and be a “jack of all trades”. Don’t believe me? Take a look at our current live SEO vacancies to see for yourself. If you lack knowledge in things like analytics or PPC – get it! That way you can include it in your CV and discuss it in the interview – remember, a little knowledge is better than none at all!
7. No Concrete Results: Just like other parts of the SEM industry, the SEO industry is driven by figures and tangible results. If you can’t provide solid facts and figures regarding to traffic, rankings and backlinks (to name a few), your credibility could be questioned.
8. Outdated Approach: If you’re still rambling on about article submissions and building XX amount of links in one week, it’s no wonder you’re not getting shortlisted. If you’re going to cite techniques in your cover letter, make sure they’re A. up to date, B. relevant and C. right for the company in question. What’s that? You’re not even mentioning possible SEO approaches for the company? Oh… well that might be another issue!
9. It’s Actually Not Just An SEO Job: Stephen Kenwright from Branded3 made a great point that just because a job has the word ‘SEO’ in the title, it doesn’t mean it’s an all-out SEO job.
Take SEO account manager jobs as an example – yes, they involve SEO and a knowledge of SEO but they also involve account management, people management and project management. OK, so you might be an SEO whizz but if you lack great communication skills and if the mere mention of the word ‘conflict’ has you sweating, it’s not the right role for you – and your CV probably proves it.
10. Your “Face Doesn’t Fit”: Just like any other job, sometimes it just comes down to something as simple as your personality or “face” not fitting in with the brand in question. If this is the case, unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do about it…
There you have it; the 10 top reasons you might be missing out on SEO jobs. Think I’ve missed something out? Leave us a comment below.
To conclude, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who gave me a helping hand on this blog via Twitter – @rachelbliberty, @jonwalkerseo, @steviephil, @bobblebardsley, @jameswelchseo and @stekenwright – I was really grateful for your help with this one!