As the scramble for graduate jobs continues, leavers without degrees specific to a particular industry are desperately looking for a starting role that allows their career to flourish.
The digital marketing and SEO industry has exploded over the past decade. Subsequently, there are a host of entry-level jobs up for grabs for those willing to show a bit of gumption.
This guide should serve as sound advice to any graduate interested in landing a role within search engine optimisation (you’ve made the first step by finding this post).
Note: I’ve tried to tailor this more towards graduates using my experience. I’ve listed other resources I found useful at the bottom of the page.
Read this Book
As you’d expect, there are a host of good online and offline resources for those looking to form their understanding.
Before you can start making enquiries anywhere you need to form a solid understanding of the principles of SEO and a broader understanding of digital marketing.
Reading The Art of SEO cover-to-cover will firmly establish these core principles inside of you.Initially, it can be tempting to cut costs and assume you can just use the endless free resources available online (you are applying for a digital role, right??) Not so.
You take in knowledge differently when it is mediated through a screen, as opposed to in book-form. You’re never more than a click away from being distracted online and you’re never more than a click away from your favorite social network.
Most grads will already be well aware of this; trying to read a journal on-screen is infinitely harder than printing it out and finding a quiet corner where you can concentrate.
As well as this, you’ll be investing some of own (probably quite sparse) finances into the book.
Having an invested stake in the book can be a huge motivating factor. The money you’ve spent will be wasted if you don’t make the effort read and understand it.
Yes, this book is towards the higher end of the price-scale of what’s available. But, it is written by real industry authorities; names it’ll be good to drop at the interview.
Regardless of whether you’re captivated by the subject matter, you should have enough academic discipline to read a book cover-to-cover. If not, you might as well stop reading here…
Whatever degree program you have graduated in, you should be more than equipped with the skills to continue your research and acquisition of knowledge.
SEO, more than most jobs, requires you to be on the absolute cusp of the industry. It is imperative you keep abreast of industry developments, a tricky task when you’re not in and around it day-in day-out.
Highlight a few industry blogs or websites and incorporate them into your normal net-surfing routine. Add SEOmoz or Search Engine Watch to your ‘check e-mails, check BBC, check Facebook’ routine and you’ll soon be up to speed.
If you have only just graduated and you are unemployed, there should be a gaping void in your life that was previously filled with your studies.
Those who find gainful employment immediately fill this void with their new industry. The key here is to fill this gap without having already landed a job.
Reading books and blogs is great but, as with any-line of work, there is no substitute for real-world experience.
There are two routes you can go down here; both involve offering your time and new-found knowledge for free.
The easier of the two paths is to get work experience in an existing digital agency. There are several advantages to this:
- You’ll be around people who live and breathe SEO
- You will be at the front of the queue for any roles that become available at that organisation
- They can point you in the right direction as to your next move
The second, slightly trickier option is to identify a local business who could use SEO but, are unaware of it or do not have the budget. The kind of targets you might want to identify are driving instructors, restaurants or small trade businesses.
It can be difficult to motivate yourself to work for free; however, you will have to bite the bullet. If you don’t, then you can guarantee somebody else will.
By this stage, you should have acquired enough knowledge and experience to demonstrate you are serious about a career in SEO. Your degree, enthusiasm and work experience should make you an attractive proposition to potential employers.
Make a list of all companies you could possibly work for, your relevant point of contact at that organisation and their e-mail/phone number. It’s important you get a name so you can contact the person directly.
The best way to organise this is to put together a basic Excel sheet, for example:
Ideally, this would be the SEO Manager or Head of Digital. For smaller companies, you may be best placed to contact the Managing Director.
If you can’t find a concrete e-mail for the person you want to contact, they generally follow this rule:
(first name initial).(last name)@(business’ website)
Dig up as much dirt as you can on the company before you apply. Even the most arbitary of knowledge can prove useful. As a rule, try to find out:
- When they were established
- Their current client roster
- Areas they specialise in
- Hobbies and interests of employees
Finding this information may mean having to go beyond the company’s website. LinkedIn and other social media channels are particuarly useful here.
If there is already a role advertised, great, you are in the perfect position to apply. If not, it does no harm to make an enquiry and put yourself on their radar.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t ‘blag’ interviews.
If you lie on your CV you’ll get found out in the interview (you’ll be grilled by people who know their onions, remember).
If for whatever reason you don’t (highly unlikely), you will be found wanting in the first week of the job and politely shown the door.
Follow each of these steps (or something similar) and you won’t need to ‘blag’ any interview. You can relax and talk freely about your experience and your knowledge.
Your enthusiasm for the role will shine through naturally.
Tamar — How to Interview for an SEO job