We’re hiring again at SwellPath, and that means a lot of resume reading and interviewing candidates. Our most recent hire is for someone with “1-2” years of experience, but we know that means we’re getting entry-level people. I thought it’d be good to cover some things that we like and dislike to see in the hiring process. Hopefully aspiring, or novice SEOs, PPC managers, and web analysts can benefit from these tips. This isn’t all inclusive, I’ve left out general tips (e.g. “have a firm handshake”), and just tried to touch on those that relate to SEM and analyst positions.
In the past we’ve placed importance on the LinkedIn profile, and asked candidates to submit it with their cover email and resume. Now we hire entirely through LinkedIn. We see knowledge of LinkedIn postings, and the ability to create a decent profile, as an indicator of an applicant’s social media savviness. If they’re not on LinkedIn, how are they going to understand how LinkedIn advertising fits into a client’s overarching digital marketing strategy? Make sure you have a complete and professional looking profile.
Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you haven’t heard of Rapportive, you should check it out. If you have EVER created a Facebook or Twitter account with the email address you’re putting on your resume, Rapportive will find it. Be conscious of the content in those accounts; many of us use tools like Rapportive these days. We like to see active social media accounts, and even better, a blog. Put the links on your resume. It shows you understand the space, and the importance of content. Own the search results for your own name? Even better.
Finally: PDF your resume. It shows you understand how to generate a professional looking document, which you’re going to need to do almost every day in your desired position.
If you’re applying for an entry-level SEO position, you should read everything SEO related by Rand. For analytics: every Avinash post. Read other blogs about industry news, tactics, best practices (like this one you’re reading now). My SwellPath co-founder and I joke that if you haven’t become an “expert” in two years in search or analytics – you must not be able to read. Not entirely true, but there is a wealth of information out there that you should be sucking up. Know the experts in the space, and read their material. Even if it is over your head, you should spend some time pushing yourself and reading up on advanced tactics. Be prepared to reference it. I don’t care if you can’t explain things perfectly; knowing that you want to learn, and you’ve been able to find the places to learn, shows a lot.
If you don’t know much about code, servers, and the technical side of our business: take some intro courses on web development, web design, and web hosting (for SEO). The web courses that are a few hours on Lynda.com or something similar. They don’t cost much. I can’t emphasize how much of a difference it makes when someone can speak to a certain depth about the technical side of things. We know we can try to teach you this stuff when you come onboard, but if you haven’t learned much of it yet, we almost always feel there is a risk that it might not be something you can learn. You might be the kind of person that just can’t understand that kind of material well. If you aren’t that kind of person; think hard about whether this is the best career option for you.
Be prepared for some tests. We have some of our team interview potential hires, and they all have their “tests” for the candidate. “What would you do to optimize this site?” “How would you begin to analyze the effectiveness of this page?” etc. It isn’t about the answers (well, kind of) but as much about how you work through a problem. Don’t get nervous about the details – we know we’re smarter than you at this stuff.
Follow up with the standard emails, but then follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, etc. Again, it shows you care and know the space. If you don’t get the position, follow our blog and read up on what we’re talking about. If another opportunity comes up, you’ll be happy you kept current with our happenings. Don’t hesitate to ask why we chose someone else also. We’ll be straightforward about things like “we didn’t think you had a good grasp on the technical side of SEO.” Take that feedback and work on your weak points.
Hopefully these tips help those out there looking for their first search or analytics position. When you land that position, and your company sends you off to SES, MozCon, eMetrics, etc. – you can find me there and buy me a drink as thanks.