Deconstructing An SEO Job Posting

SEO jobs abound. However, I thought I'd take a thorough look at a description I came across and “read between the lines” to help out those who might not know how to deconstruct a job posting. I'll alternate with snippets from the posting and my commentary on those snippets.

Job Description

“SEO Consulting – We have a number of large consulting contracts that need both project management and hands-on SEO work. You will be responsible for communicating with clients via email, phone and in-person for both sales calls and consulting. You'll help our team to conduct site reviews, audits, prepare strategic reports, and solve client issues and answer questions on demand.”

If you're the management type, you're not going to be happy. This item clearly states hands-on SEO is required. And if you're the sort that likes to sit hidden behind multiple monitors, you won't be happy because you're going to need to talk to people i.e. clients.

“Process Formalization – Although we've completed many successful consulting projects, our documentation and processes could use some refining. You will be responsible for helping the team to build these systems and apply them to our consulting and hands-on SEO projects.”

This boils down to documentation. Sure, you'll have fun meetings talking about things, but every hour of meetings will require 8 hours of writing documentation. Prepare yourself.

“Blogging – Our blog is read by more than 30K search marketers each day. As a member of our SEO team, your posts will help to build your credibility in the community and assist our thousands of readers to better conduct their own SEO (it's the old “teach a man to fish” proverb for the modern age). Blog posts on the site also serve as a valuable point of reference for client work, Q+A answers and community participation.”

Blogging is fun, no doubt about it. But it's particularly hard when the pressure of client deliverables looms large. It's even harder when your blog posts are vetted by your fellow co-workers and read by thousands.

“Answering Q+A – The Q+A service inside our PRO membership offering is one of the most valuable and popular services we provide. You'll be tasked with responding to questions about SEO and web marketing from our members.”

Not so bad, unless you slip up. It takes just one wrong answer to wipe out the credibility earned from 100 right answers.

“Working with Our Partners – Our global partners assist us with a number of consulting and in-house projects (you can read more about this here). Your help will be required for quality control, communications and project management across the two organizations.”

Partnerships, in theory, should be great experiences where both parties benefit. Often, there's a lot of fingerpointing. Can you stay above that sort of activity?

“Tool Design & Input – Our tools, especially after the launch of Linkscape and the accompanying web index, are a big part of our future. You'll be needed to give insight on the tools we have, contribute to the design and development process of new tools, and assist us in collecting feedback and improving.”

For the technically oriented, this part of the job should be quite interesting. For the non-technical, boring.

“Improving our membership program – a primary revenue stream and focus for the future. Your responsibilities will entail contributing actively to the membership program through all of the current content offerings and help us in developing new ways to help our member SEOs.”

More writing.

“Contributing to Company's Direction – We ask that all of our employees help foster the positive environment of our workplace, pro-actively pushing ideas, content and work that make our company, products and services the best they can be.”

Just about every company promises this in some form. Usually you go in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed only to quickly realize that 1) Your ideas will be ignored 2) After your ideas have been ignored, they will resurface as someone else's idea a few days later. Yeah, I'm a cynic.

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  1. Interesting. If people put out a nice spec, it's good to read it when you apply. It's a different story from an employer's perspective. Based on 11 years of hiring SEO team members, it has become obvious that it doesn't matter what you post. As long as it says something like "SEO manager", you are going to get a host of resumes -- from people with what you want, and people with absolutely *nothing* to do with SEO. That is why hiring managers spend literally 30 seconds max screening each resume to put it into either the yes, no or maybe pile. Sounds discouraging, but keep at it -- it's a bit of a numbers game, something will eventually fall your way!

  2. Hi Marios -

    Thanks for the great article! Although I'm very happy with my current employer, I get multiple job inquiries from recruiters on a weekly basis via LinkedIn (word to the wise job seeker out there...). Some common recurring denominators that come up in discussions with recruiters is their lack of basic knowledge of the SEO industry, the vast difference experience makes when setting compensation, and the difference between paid and organic search (I'm not kidding). I pass a lot of job leads on to peers and colleagues but one of my first questions, surprisingly, is about compensation. Contrary to popular advice, I've found that you can quickly weed out a lot of the time wasters and the unfocused with this question up front. You can quickly get to brass tacks about the organization's sophistication, understanding, dedication and the values they associate with organic search.

    Also, a huge red flag to be weary of (and this may seem obvious) are companies that continually post job openings and want you to provide an audit for their site up front. You can bet they are likely crowd-sourcing SEO advice on the cheap. Yep, I'm a cynic too. :-)

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