Whether you’re looking for a new role, a promotion, or professional advancement, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s an employee’s or employer’s market. While that may determine the number of jobs available and flexibility with salary negotiations, what’s most important is trying to find the right job for you. 

It’s natural to be grateful for having a job in the first place or gratified by receiving an offer from a company. So we’ll accept a vague job description. We’ll accept a company that doesn’t promote its capabilities around the industry you work in. We’ll accept a lowball offer. We’ll accept an offer just because we got one.

But most of us are long overdue when it comes to prioritizing ourselves and what we need in our job search. This especially so in the evolving world of digital marketing and SEO, where our skills are constantly growing and adapting in response to new technologies, platforms, and customer/client needs. While there’s still an endless amount to learn from industry leaders and veterans, trust your skills and recognize that your unique history and capabilities bring something to the table that no one else can.

MACH9 Digital’s Chief Digital Operations Officer Kathryn Parsons said it best at our C3 Organic Marketing Conference in May:

“Choose the job you want, rather than let[ting] the job choose you.”

So when it comes time to consider your next opportunity, reconsider how you approach the application process in the following ways:

  • Let your personality and moxie shine throughout
  • Carefully read job descriptions
  • Create a standout resume
  • Know that your current salary isn’t your worth
  • Come to interviews with the right questions
  • Interview your interviewers to get the full scoop on the job

Let’s dive further into each.

Let your personality and moxie shine through

This sage piece of advice was shared by Kathryn during her C3 session “You’re Hired: How to Land the SEO Jobs of Your Dreams.”

It’s first in this list of recommendations because it should be incorporated into the rest of them. You should apply a ‘you’ filter to each stage of your job hunt.

While, unfortunately, there is still plenty of bias littered throughout the application process, leverage your background and personality as an asset that relates to a diverse audience and isn’t constricted by a limited point of view.

Worry less about trying to fit into an existing corporate culture and more about making a space for yourself once you start a role that allows your personal brand to shine. If the company you’re applying to doesn’t afford you that space, consider whether you would, in fact, enjoy working there after all.

Carefully analyze each job description

Wording of the job descriptions and expectations can provide you with significant insights into your potential future at each company.

Those with experience in the field know that SEOs do too much. In part, because they have a wide range of skills and also because SEO should function in conjunction with the Marketing Teams and other departments.

Look out for mentions of collaboration and multi-team efforts. Track whether there’s a mix of short and long-term expectations and estimate whether the former will help support the latter through a holistic and actionable strategy. Try to determine the company’s level of organic marketing maturity based on mentions of people, processes, tools, and metrics that will support you. Then, judge whether the combination is what you’re looking for.

The industry of the companies you apply to will also help give you a sense of the type of work you’ll be a part of. For example, an SEO job on an in-house marketing team will offer you different opportunities from those at an advertising agency, at a SaaS company, or as an independent or freelance consultant.

From there, try to determine where your potential job falls in the departmental hierarchy. Researching the company on LinkedIn or Glassdoor can often help with this. Then based on your own skills, experience, and expectations for growth, decide if the requirements are feasible and realistic for you. Ask yourself if you think this role can help get you to the next level and beyond.

Create a standout resume

Set yourself apart from the competition by demonstrating the breadth of your experience and your range of applicable skills through actionable success and growth between roles. 

Highlight your expertise with marketing, analytics, and SEO platforms, and explain how you leveraged them to make meaningful progress towards your goals and KPIs.

Ensure that the way you’ve described your capabilities aligns with the job description’s expectations, and consider creating multiple versions of your resume that are more specific to individual roles.

But don’t go overboard. Keyword stuff is just as overbearing for potential employers as it is for Google. You don’t need to be an expert with every platform a company uses or have a list of accomplishments that matches a job description’s bulleted list one by one. 

You don’t have to know how to do 100% of the job’s expected tasks. If that’s the case, then simply be prepared to tell the truth about what you don’t know. But express a firm desire for growth and learning in that area. When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, it’s important to understand the range of skills associated with the field, and what’s expected from it, so you can be prepared to explain what you do and don’t know in a way that presents you in a positive and knowledgeable light.

Remember: Your salary is not your worth

A salary is the amount of funding a company has decided to dedicate to a particular set of tasks and responsibilities at a specific time.

You’re a human looking to make a living—to make a life, to grow, to learn, and to thrive.

You have capabilities these companies need to achieve their goals and agreeing to take on a job should mean that you’re willing to spend your time and exert your energy for a salary commensurate with those efforts. 

Conductor recently published a Digital Marketing Jobs and Salary Guide that provides marketers with in-depth salary data and job market trends to help navigate the changing hiring landscape. Review it to better understand the state of digital marketing and SEO roles and salary estimates based on role, location, and other factors. There’s also a version for the UK job market

In addition, job sites like salary.com, indeed.com, and glassdoor.com provide salary ranges by industry and role that should give you a sense of what those with similar titles and job descriptions make. 

It’s also becoming more acceptable to respectfully ask about salary from those close to you. Consider asking for more clarity from your boss, department head, and/or mentor. Of course, it’s still a touchy subject, but the more visibility we have into salaries, the better we can understand the status quo and work on making it better for ourselves.

For digital marketing and SEO roles, in particular, the range of skills needed to be successful is constantly expanding. So regardless of whether you’re looking for a new role or not, keep researching. Stay on top of skills that are becoming more prominent in your field so you can stay ahead. Then research salaries for similar roles in the industry and those with those skills to ensure you’re receiving your worth. If you’re not, build a case to advocate for why you’re worth the raise. And when you’re looking for a new role, make sure that’s what you ask for.

Come to interviews with the right questions

Besides being able to confidently speak about your past marketing and SEO experience, the next most important part of the interview process is what you can learn from the interviewers about the job, its role in the larger company, and the company itself. It’s about figuring out if that job is really what you want to do. Look for questions that make it clear that they appreciate the role. Look for positivity around digital marketing and SEO.

As a starting point—after you’ve carefully analyzed the job description and researched the company—decide which of the following questions to ask to determine how comprehensively SEO is incorporated into the company.

Hierarchy of questions to determine level of company SEO value

While you may enjoy a role positioned at any part of this hierarchy, understanding where a company’s SEO team exists out of these six levels will determine how valued SEO is, how much buy-in you’re likely to have right off the bat, how integrated SEO is at the company, how advanced your work might be, and what the opportunities are to grow your future SEO team.

The lower in the hierarchy SEO appears to be, the more you might find yourself struggling to advance your objectives, collaborate with other teams, and incorporate SEO across multiple lines of business, along with a variety of other challenges overall. While this could be a great opportunity to advance SEO within that company, it’s important to decide whether you’re up for a more uphill battle when it comes to SEO advocacy and adoption. 

Interview your interviewers to get the full scoop on the job

Another way to determine what the job will be like is by carefully considering the people interviewing you and the questions they ask. When it comes to those doing interviewing, assess their level of each for SEO and the role: overall knowledge, business acumen, relevant skills, understanding of goals, and its importance to them.

The level may not be high on all of the above for each interview, but you should come away from your final interview feeling confident that collectively, the support for your role is there.

Outside of questions, track the general attitude and demeanor of the interviewer. Based on their role, do they exhibit any particular positive or concerning qualities that indicate what working with or for them would be like. Chief Digital Operations Manager Kathryn Parsons suggests looking out for the following:

Positive verses concerning attributes of interviewers during an interview

And when talking to members of various departments, make sure you’re:

  1. Asked the right questions
  2. Given the right type of answers and reaction. For example:
Beneficial verses concerning conversations to have during an SEO interview

Final thoughts on the SEO dream job finding process

SEOs and Organic Marketers provide tremendous value to organizations that effectively integrate them into their business and invest in their efforts.

VP of Acquisition quote: SEO is really best when it unites your organization

It’s highly worthwhile for SEOs to find roles in companies that fit this description but that means putting a significant amount of work into ensuring that that’s where you end up—even more so than what it takes to secure a standard position.

This approach will guide you towards getting more out of your job hunt, help you better advocate for yourself and your worth, uncover more about your potential role and employer prior to starting, all of which will set you up for even more success in your job search. 

Want the latest SEO salary and jobs data for 2023? Check out the 2023 US Marketing Salary and Jobs Guide.

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