Much of my time in the past month has been consumed by an SEO recruitment campaign we’ve been running in the US and UK for a major client. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to really think about my relationships with the recruitment agencies I’ve been working with and review how their selection process has helped or hindered our efforts. I’d like to share some pointers based on an ideal initial recruitment process to filter the best SEO’s and make finding your SEO Management rock star a painless process.
In this post, we’re going to be looking at what steps should be happening before the interview…
Target your audience wisely
How many times have you had your email inbox inundated by irrelevant job applications from all around the world for your SEO role? Choosing the right advertising channel is a tough decision to make but where would you prefer to concentrate your man hours? Quantity or quality? Major jobs boards can drive hundreds of job applications but do the candidates you’re receiving really have the right skills?
In the UK, there are quite a few sites you can advertise for a candidate without spending a huge fortune. In fact, many of the properties online that accept job advertisements are not jobs boards at all:
SEOmoz Internet Marketing Jobs – Rand’s site has jobs and contracts in SEO, Linkbuilding, development and social media, internationally.
Each one of these sites have a high volume of completely relevant traffic – passive job seekers in digital marketing who are in the right place to be reading about their discipline. The traffic levels on some of these sites compare very well to well known jobs boards, so it’s worth doing some research to find out.
Jobs boards do add an immense amount of functionality (integration with networks like Broadbean, CV search etc) but, it could make sense to play the numbers game and target your audience wisely.
How much experience is there?
What length of time should an SEO practitioner be an SEO to gain qualification enough to lead an SEO team? I doubt there’s a perfect answer, but common sense and intuition would lead you to believe that a number of years, say, 3 or 4 would be the bare minimum you’d need to qualify. Strategic leadership in SEO can be learned, but not in a year.
Finding people at the moment isn’t easy. When you’re reviewing a CV you need to be able to discard it quickly if the person described won’t fit into the role. I call this “second hand car syndrome” – you fall in love with a car before checking if the service history and condition are ok for the next 10,000 miles, and it can happen to you at any point in the recruitment process.
If your candidate has been doing pure SEO for a short time, or not been focusing on SEO at all in the last 6 months, they’re probably more suited for a middle weight or management development role in a more general position.
Do a telephone interview
Start by shortlisting your candidates and arranging a time to speak to them. An informal format can encourage a relaxed conversation allowing you to dig around and assess that precious SEO knowledge. Can the applicant talk you through the basic principles of SEO? How does a search engine work? What’s the difference between a 301 and a 302 redirect? What is the intended purpose of the rel=”canonical” tag? These are all quick and easy questions to assess the depth of knowledge the voice on the other end of the line contains.
A telephone interview is also a cracking opportunity to sell the benefits of the role and set the scene on what the job would require regularly. If you under sell the role to the right person, and they go for a similar offer elsewhere, how are you going to feel?
Interviews, offers, acceptance?
Hopefully, the steps above add enough usefulness for you to be able to get to the full interview stage completely unscathed. It’s not easy and quite exhausting but exhilarating to catch the right person. Good luck!
Enjoy a few additional resources / recommended reads:
SEO Management 101 – What Makes for a Good SEO Manager?
Build a Great SEO Team – [Organisational SEO]
Great SEO Starts with the Right People – [Blogstorm]
A Portrait of the Perfect Linkbuilder – [Eric Ward]
Interview with Chris Alan, SEO Manager for Expedia.com – [Netconcepts]
Brent Payne Interviewed by Eric Enge – [Stone Temple]