My final lap has started and I only have one semester to go until I’m officially a college graduate. Graduating is bittersweet for me as I get ready to start my life in the real world. More and more college students are having difficulties finding a job as the requirements for entry-level jobs become more complex. Especially jobs in SEO or online marketing in general, it can be hard to set yourself apart from the crowd. Throughout my time as a student, I’ve learned a lot about the job hunt. I still have a lot to learn, but I can still share my tips on searching for jobs in SEO.
Get experience first
SEO is an ever-changing industry that requires you to have both creative and analytical skills. If you haven’t had an internship that involves SEO yet, that should be your first step. Don’t be that college senior who is graduating without any experience. Internships in SEO help you learn the basics and help you determine if it’s the right line of work for you. You’ll most likely be working in an agency with a variety of clients. You need to know a little bit about a lot of things and manage your time effectively. Brush up on your SEO terms and take some of the free online courses offered for Google Analytics. If you don’t have any experience yet, this is a great first step to developing your skills. Adam wrote a blog post titled What are SEO Skills? What You’ll Need to Get a Job in SEO that offers great advice on skills you’ll need for an SEO job. You might also be interested in working in PPC marketing and reading Joe’s blog post titled What Skills are Needed to get a Job in PPC?
If you’re interested in the industry but haven’t had an internship yet, start looking for post-graduate internships in search engine marketing. Look for opportunities at smaller companies that are more likely to hire someone with little or no experience. Smaller companies can also give you the opportunity to work on real projects that help you learn more about the industry. One great resource that helps you search for marketing firms is Clutch. While this tool is geared toward helping businesses find firms for projects, it’s a database of thousands of agencies, some of which are hiring. You can even filter by SEO firms specifically.
Find that full-time job
If you’ve had SEO experience and you’re looking for a full-time opportunity, there are several tools at your disposal to help you find opportunities.
College career websites
I would first check your college’s career website. Most companies are posting on these websites because they’re specifically looking for recent college graduates to fill their positions. If there’s a search feature on your career website, search for positions with key terms like “SEO” and “online marketing”. You could also utilize filters to filter jobs with specific keywords, industries, and by desired graduation date.
If there’s a company you love, stalk them….in a good way. Head to their website and check out their careers page for any SEO related positions. Some companies are able to send you job alerts for certain job types too. Even if you don’t see a position in SEO, you could always send your resume to HR to keep on file if a position opens up.
There are so many people out there who don’t utilize LinkedIn for their job search. This is a great resource because LinkedIn will show mutual connections and people from your college who currently or previously had a job at that company. Instant connection! Just head over to the jobs tab, and you can search for jobs using keywords, experience level and by geographic location.
I know career fairs can feel awkward. Search the event website before you go to see which companies are hiring and plan who you want to talk to. Even if there aren’t any companies you’re interested in, it’s always a good idea to go and practice your networking skills. Who knows, that person might know someone who’s looking to fill an SEO position.
Utilize the connections you’ve made over your college career. Set up a coffee meeting and mention that you’re looking for opportunities in SEO. This could be past supervisors, professors, people you’ve met at career fairs, even family members.
Polish your resume
Your resume is your bridge from the application to the interview. It’s important that it stands out amongst the rest and highlights only your best skills and experiences. Beyond my SEO resume tips, you can also read Lexie’s blog post titled How to Get a Job in Search Engine Marketing: Cover Letter & Resume Tips.
We all know the importance of keywords in SEO, but they’re important for resumes too. HR will sometimes use software to filter resumes with specific keywords to make the process go quicker. Even if they don’t use this software, use keywords that will jump out at someone looking at your resume. If you’ve had a position in SEO before, use SEO keywords like Google Analytics, online marketing, blogging, SEM, or link building. They only look at it for an average of six seconds, so you need to have words that stand out.
The SEO business is all about numbers. How much organic traffic did your blog post receive? How many links did you get a client after a link building campaign? How much did your client’s average keyword rankings improve? All of these things will stand out on a page and show that you know what you’re talking about.
Every person looking to get a job in SEO should know Google Analytics. List it under your skills section or bullet points on your resume. You could also add other software or tools that you used during your internships like social media scheduling tools, the Adobe design suite, and keyword tools. The employer will already expect you to know Microsoft Office so you should refrain from listing this as a skill.
Nail the interview
Now it’s time to impress. Once you land the interview, immediately do as much research as you can about the company. Read their blog, find out what services they offer and study the job description. Ask a friend who’s interviewed at the company before what types of questions they asked or check out the company on Glassdoor or Indeed for potential questions. When they ask you questions, be sure to communicate what you know about the company and highlight the skills they’re looking for in your answers. As a bonus, you should also read up on SEO industry news. The bottom line is, make sure you know what you’re talking about and highlight the most important skills for the position.