Council Post: How To Find (And Recruit) SEO Talent To Take Your Company To The Next Level

By Tyler Gallagher, CEO and founder of Regal Assets, an international alternative assets firm with offices in Beverly Hills, Toronto, London and Dubai.

Ironically, good search engine optimization (SEO) can help you attract top marketing talent. But before you get there, you need to recruit promising, hard-working SEO professionals. It’s a bit of a paradox. 

According to a recent Twitter poll, 54.6% of respondents agree that there’s a shortage of SEO talent on the market. That’s why savvy entrepreneurs would do well to go out of their way to find and recruit leading SEO talent before their competitors do. 

As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve always invested heavily in my SEO strategy. Over the years, I’ve found that finding excellent entry-level SEO talent has been integral to my business’s success and has given me a competitive advantage. In this article, I’ll go over my strategy for recruiting next-gen SEO talent to take your company to new heights.

Recruiting For Long-Term Success: Don’t Hire From The Top

Remember, we’re looking for entry-level SEO talent. Why? Because to do otherwise would jeopardize the longevity of your SEO strategy. Most job boards are filled with posts looking for SEO managers, directors or top-level officers. Companies with deeper pockets and greater resources are already tapping the pool of experienced SEOs. 

Much of my company’s SEO success stems from the fact that we hire young and relatively inexperienced SEOs who are eager to learn. They’re usually grateful for the opportunity to showcase their talents and are determined to grow into their roles. In turn, their salaries and rates are more attractive from our perspective than those of veteran SEOs. 

In short, entry-level SEOs will grow with your company and can develop a long-term presence in your firm. Whereas veteran SEOs, although impactful from day one, have more leverage at their disposal to relocate to another firm and throw a wrench in your strategy. In my view, entry-level SEO talent provides more opportunity for long-run growth at a discount.

Tips And Suggestions For Job Descriptions

Before getting into the nitty-gritty, there are some easy fixes you can add to your job descriptions on Careerbuilder, Glassdoor, Indeed and the other major job boards:

Cut The Jargon: Not only does plain language improve your job posting’s accessibility, but it also encourages applicants who might be intimidated by technical language they might not fully understand. 

• Include A Salary Range: Don’t waste anyone’s time by failing to include the job’s salary range — including it will ensure that the applicants apply with the right expectations.

• Remove Biased Language: Less than 30% of SEOs identify as women; however, we can attract top female talent by weeding out gender-biased language in job descriptions, such as superlatives, masculine pronouns, excessive “must-have” requirements and words such as “ninja” or “rockstar.”

• Include Your Values: Mentioning your company’s core values will help set you apart from competitors, and many of today’s youngest talent from the Gen-Z and Millennial generation are especially attracted to businesses that stand for defined values.

Where To Find Promising SEO Talent

Online job boards aren’t the only place to hire SEO professionals. Below, I’ve listed a handful of alternative sources for SEO talent to help you find the best candidate for your company’s needs. 

1. Colleges, Bootcamps And Universities

Higher education is an excellent place to start. But don’t limit yourself to university campuses alone. I also recommend contacting bootcamp courses in SEO and digital marketing, who might be able to put you in communication with their top graduates. 

Many college or university marketing departments have the contact information of their departmental secretary or their professors available online. You can use these resources to contact them about job openings or internships you might have for students or graduates. 

Alternatively, you could offer to provide a guest lecture or two on an area of expertise (perhaps as part of an entrepreneurship program). There you can meet top students who might be eager for a start in your industry. 

2. Referrals 

The next-best place to source entry-level SEOs is simply word of mouth. If you have trusted contacts within the digital marketing sphere, ask around. You’ll be surprised by how much nascent talent there is that’s waiting for an opportunity to get started.

3. Conferences And Meet-Ups

There are plenty of SEO-oriented conferences and nationwide social events that attract veteran and rookie SEO talent alike. Near me, for example, DigiMarCon and the International Search Summit occur every summer. These are great events to attend if you want to rub elbows with seasoned professionals as well as promising young professionals. 

4. Student Events

There are countless student groups dedicated to digital marketing, SEO, pay-per-click advertising — you name it. With a cursory Google search, you should be able to track down the names and locations of these student groups and contact their organizer. Then, you can inquire about whether anyone within the group would be willing to submit their résumé for your consideration. 

Tips For Keeping (And Supporting) SEO Talent

Hiring is only half the battle. It’s essential that you give your SEOs the space, resources and freedom to grow. Remember, you want to provide a platform for an SEO to blossom into their career with you, rather than be a mere stepping stone to a better opportunity. 

Not only should you mentor your young talent and offer praise and recognition when deserved, but you should likewise offer flexibility and authority. Once they’re comfortable, let them develop their own strategies and methods which can be A/B tested against your own. This is an integral step in creating a growth environment. 

The central objective is to find eager talent who are happy to grow with your company. If you can provide a platform for growth, you’ll be well on your way to building SEO success with a team of satisfied marketing professionals.

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