How to Land a Graduate Job in SEO

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.

Graduate Job in SEO

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…

Immerse Your­self

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.

Work Expe­ri­ence

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.

Make enquiries

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.

The Inter­view

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.

Use­ful resources:

SEO­moz — How to get an SEO job

SEO Gad­get — How to get an SEO job

Tamar — How to Inter­view for an SEO job