Searching For Jobs in Search: Starting and Advancing Your Career in the Industry

Aug 21, 2008 - 6:53 pm 1 by

This panel of experts will discuss the qualities they look for in candidates, as well as strategies for career advancement in the search industry. The discussion will include:

  • How have the criteria for a strong candidate evolved over the years? Are the sources that were relied on in the past different than they are today?
  • How can you break into the search industry as a marketer who doesn't have direct experience with the medium?
  • Can specific training jumpstart the experience necessary to enter into the search industry? What particular types of training are recommended?
  • How important is training and continuing education to career advancement? What are other recommendations for career advancement?

Dana Todd, CMO, Newsforce

Frank Watson, CEO, Kangamurra Media
Katie Donovan, Business Development Manager, SEMPO Institute
Ken Clark, EVP & Co-founder, Onward Search

Search Jobs: Demand is High. Look at SEMPO Job Board. Salaries are still fairly high as well.

Hiring Criteria/Skills
KC: companies are focused on what is your experience within the industry or segment they operate in as opposed to just are you a good search marketer. They want proven success in that niche.
KD: Need people skills.
FW: Someone that is going to be outgoing. Need to have certain level of confidence.

KD is finding that training sales people in SEO helps, they have the people skills and can help understand what problems the customer is having.

Audience member: better to have someone with narrow and deep skills, or wide but shallow skills. Need to look at size of company. Job seekers need to look at where they find a place they might like and what matches their skill sets and what their area of comfort.

Amazon person in audience: looking for horsepower, analytics skills and creative ability. They ask lots and lots of questions to help determine if the candidate has these skills.

FW commented to audience member that it is great to have someone that has both the marketing knowledge and the IT knowledge and can sit in the middle. KC: Don’t think there’s a perfect background to be a search marketer.

For new people, is training a good thing? KD said previous training is a good thing, SEMPO and one other are only ones with certification programs, some employers do give everyone training when they come in. Ways to prove what you can do: take a charity and do things for them. SEM Cares. KC: feels training/course does give an advantage. Be able to demonstrate something to the employer that shows you have initiative, even if it is a small project.

Breaking In/Finding Jobs

SEMPO has an RFP section, often has people with small budgets, but you might be able to get experience from them. Look at Craigslist and other online places to find small things to build up portfolio. Come to conferences like this to network with people. Affiliate marketing might be another way to prove what you can do, but may be difficult. KC: take active part in managing your reputation online. Recruiters do their research. Make sure you’re on LinkedIn.

Don’t have to write about SEO on a blog. FW wants to see your passion for something, write about what you know and what you’re interested in. DT asks panel how to do lateral transfers. How do you keep your advancement going after you’ve gone past the entry level? KC: There is an executive trail. He doesn’t have numbers to quote, but there is job creation in those higher levels.


Online Training, Certifications (online courses, search engines). It’s a nice to have, but not a must have. Not like on IT side where you need to have an MCSE to get a job. Probably a couple of years to figure out which certifications will be in the highly desired. They are more beneficial for someone just getting into the field.

Advancing Your Career

FW: Become more known in the space. Get a moderator job on one of the forums. KC: ask yourself where you want to be in five years. Do I want to be a generalist or specialist? Agency or inhouse? Manager or individual contributor?

KD: just because you know you’ve done well, others may not realize. You do have to let people know about your accomplishments.

Thanks to Keri for this!


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