Career Gut Check – SEM/SEO Employment Landscape

March 12, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Okay, I’m starving. I didn’t have a chance to eat. And I was already dizzy. That means these last few recaps are going to be super entertaining. Until I fall over and die, of course. But until then, super funny!

Our next session is all about the SEM employment landscape, which I hear, is pretty damn good. Let’s see if the speakers confirm the rumors.

Carolyn Shelby is moderating with speakers Josh Gampel, Aaron Shear,  Joanna Lord and Gary Swart.

Ooo, spinning room. Fun.

Up first is Josh.

Has the recession impacted the Internet marketing job market? Is it really recession proof? He says it’s more recession resistant. There has been a decline in jobs available and a slow down in spending. It’s not the wild, wild west, but it’s certainly still growing.

The good part about search engine marketing is that advertisers are looking for increased ROI and accountability. That means taking dollars out of offline and putting them into online. The bad news is that consumer spending is down. Budgets have tightened up and it’s not as easy as it was.

How does the recession affect my career?

If you are an employer, you have access to a better talent pool at a lower cost-premium than ever before. Take advantage of it.

If you are a job seeker, the jobs are out there and you are in a GREAT industry. You just need to work a little harder and get smarter to find them.

Sourcing Internet Marketing Talent

People are getting good aggressive salaries if they have the right skills and they’re really good. Those $100,000 raises aren’t happening.  You need to be an expert in the field. You have to know how to drive for conversions. If you want to leverage your career, have a specialty in a particular industry.

Tip #1: Show Me The Money

Job seekers: Work experience in a related industry comes as a premium and you will be paid for it

Employers: Don’t settle. The talent from your industry is out there. Find them. There are a lot of consultants out there who are very good at what they do and can make a big impact on your business.

Tip #2: Schmooze or Lose

What are you doing to get you/your company’s name out in the market?

Build your network and don’t rely on just the job boards. If you were your own client, how would you spread the word to the search community? Use social networking, blogging, network meetups, etc. LinkedIn is also your friend.

Tip #3: Remember the Willie Sutton Rule

Know where the money is. Target the right industries and the right segments.

What jobs are hot?

  • VP/ Director of Internet Marketing
  • Social Media Consultant
  • SEO Project Manager
  • Internet Analytics Manager

Build your brand. Use Twitter. Be pro-active. Know how you want to be represented online.

Tip #4: Get Trained & Certified

Job seekers: If you are new to the industry, invest in some level of training to strengthen your resume.  He talks about SEO Book, SEMPO, Bruce Clay, etc.

Tip #5: Adjust Salary Expectations to the Market

Job Seekers: Your base salary will not jump as fast as it has in the past. Ask for performance-based compensation plans to get your optimal number.

Employers: Upgrade now. You can acquire “A Talent” for “B prices”. Don’t miss this opportunity.

Next up is Joanna.

She talks about the flip side of popularity.  Our jobs are still seeing growth. We feel safe/job security. Attracts new candidates. You need to do things to set yourself apart.

Stand Out & Succeed

Expand your skill set: Back then you had to be creative. You had to be well-written and analytical. It was a hybrid position. You were doing them a favor by coming on because it was going to be a lot of learning. Now it’s chaos. There’s a ton of “experts”, “gurus”, etc.  This tells you there’s still a need for someone who can wear all the hats, but you have to be able to carve out a niche. You have to be the best at X, but also be able to do everything else.

Showcase Yourself: Stay ahead of the curve. Read the blogs, join the forums, engage in the communities. Beta into everything. Learn the tutorials.  Train on the weekend. Ask for demonstrations for 3rd party tools. Read the official updates, posts, etc.

A marketer’s resume checklist:

  • Use numbers, numbers, numbers
  • Show community engagement
  • List certifications
  • Highlight toolset experience
  • Establish authority
  • Pimp yourself out in social media – jump on, reach out, be sincere, share knowledge, learn from the people before you. She mentions LinkedIn’s Question & Answer service. 78 percent of recruiters Google.

Manage expectations: We still don’t know specifics for how much people will get paid with certain criteria or through commission structures.  We do know ranges.  We’re starting to see the divide between an expert and a newcomer so the ability to train is huge. Hybrid positions are good. Your title matters and it should reflect what you do on a daily basis.

Newcomers get 40k to start. At five years, it jumps to about 56k. [Really? Those seem awfully low to me. ]

Aaron is next. He says he had an hour notice. Hee.

He finds certifications aggravating. He’s sat through courses pretending to be other people (hee), and says that most of them are bad. He calls out Bruce Clay’s SEOToolSet as being one of the few good ones and I have to agree.  I’ve taken it a few times and definitely recommend it.

What to Look For:

  • Experience, don’t just look for SEO in the resume. Look at the types of sites they’ve worked on.
  • Big sites? If all they have worked on is less than 10k pages, move on.

Are they aggressive? Do not hire someone who cannot communicate. Even an analyst should be able to convey a sense of urgency. [I want to disagree with this hardcore. I didn’t speak at Bruce Clay, Inc. my first 3 months on the job because I was petrified. But I still kicked ass. Being vocal does not show authority or expertise. Have we learned nothing from social media? The loud people aren’t always the smartest.]

How do they spend their day? How much time are they spending on analytics? How much time are they spending researching?

Do they have a blog? Are they social and out there communicating? You can tell a ton about how they communicate through their blog. Can they draw a reaction? How does their own blog rank?

Fire your HR recruiter: They don’t know how to bring people in. HR departments always sift through resumes for you and will simply skip a perfectly good applicant based on their knowledge. Education does not matter in this space, you CAN’T learn this in school.

How to get budget

  • Keep an open mind to compensation
  • Can you pay for performance?
  • If you can, it can really help to motivate your staff.
  • Set stern goals and make it tough to hit, but not outrageous

Don’t be afraid to ask/pay for help. There are great consultants who know specific markets very well. They can help you sell concepts internally. He takes another shot at introverts and how they can’t get things done. I think this guy had his heart broken by an “introvert” or something. There’s nothing wrong with being introverted if you know your shit. Actions can speak louder than words.

The mocking bird effect also helps, engineers may blow you off, even though you are right!

Last up is Gary.

You’re no longer captive to your local market, thanks to remote work. The economy has increased the competition for jobs.  The good news is that US providers have higher feedback than their global counterparts. Rates are holding steady. Rates for skilled categories like SEO are actually increasing.

Skilled professionals can still find work. In fact, work done in the US grew at a rate of 367 percent, 50 percent faster than 0Dek’s overall rate of growth.

He shows some sample job listings.

Tips for Marketing Yourself Better

  • Save your powder: Apply for fewer jobs, but the ones that require the skill sets you absolutely master.
  • The hook: The better you understand your client’s pain and implications of the problems, the more effectively you can respond to their needs.
  • Sell benefits, not features
  • Show instead of tell

Tips for raising your prices

  • Have referrals
  • Sharpen the Saw
  • Don’t sell price, sell value

Rates holding steady or increasing. However, raising prices in today’s environment is difficult.

Tips for expanding your work

  • Grow business among existing clients: once you understand your clients’ needs, sell more based on what you know.
  • Augment your team: Don’t have the skill-set or manpower inhouse to sell additional work? Add to your team with a flexible bench of contractors.
  • Access a global talent pool: Don’t limit yourself to a single location. Leverage global wages.

And we’re done. I hear there are cookies. I’m going to go find them. Wish me luck.

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