Entering the Golden Gates of Search Marketing: A Guide to Getting Your First Job in Search

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Two years ago I would have never imagined sitting in this comfortable desk chair and being welcomed with open arms in to the search marketing industry by Portland’s own Anvil Media, Inc. College was on pace to last until the end of days and professional direction was a spinning compass in the Bermuda Triangle. Not until I discovered the world of search marketing did I discover a truly attractive career path. Once I had done some research and initial networking I knew I had found my path to a happy, productive career. Now my only obstacle was actually getting a job during a time when I was hearing only stories of failure and peers settling for jobs in food service or retail.

First I must point out that my case is a bit unique, and that is why I am able to produce this guide. As a Sport Communication major at Indiana University most individuals I met pictured me in the announcers booth during Monday Night Football, not plugging away behind a computer crunching numbers and reporting like a mad man.

The following is a guide of practices I implemented when making an impression on my future employers, including aspects I wish I would have included along the way. To make a long story short, the path to your first job in search is a passion for the profession. Follow along and see just how an individual, whether on the correct educational path or not, can make an impression and get their first job in search.

1. Go Get an Internship or Volunteer Your Time

This is something that was drilled in to my head the very day I became and Indiana University Hoosier. At first it is easy to think of internships as unnecessary, especially when there is a summer in the sun at risk. I mean who really wants to work 8-5 every day while their friends drink PBR and head out to the lake on daddy’s speed boat? The answer is clear. Individuals who are career minded and forward looking will realize that making sacrifices now can result in great results further down the road. In the big scheme of things, getting an internship isn’t even a sacrifice at all. Snagging a good internship can provide you with a quality learning and networking experience.

I also suggest not being a stickler about money when it comes to being an intern. If in any way you can afford to volunteer your time or accept the small stipend usually offered you will realize that you are being paid in knowledge and experience.

2. Spruce up that Resume, Keep it Clean and Simple

  • Don’t go over one page
  • Don’t worry about references, have them ready if asked
  • Use your experience to prove your interest in search marketing

Yes, I did get a little bit of help from a graphic designer on my resume, but the instructions were clear to keep it simple by aligning all of the content on one page and getting straight to the point. Employers want to know why you are the best fit for the job and if you try to overwhelm them your success will be greeted with a trip directly in to the nearest recycle bin.

The bottom line here is that there is no need to go over one page, and no reason to include over the top information. Now that you have some internship and volunteer time you can highlight that information and prove to your future employer that you have legitimate interest in the industry.

3. Interested is a Lifestyle, Not a Label

There will come a point in the job searching process where you will need to prove that you are as interested in search as you seem to be on paper. Many times we hear the terminology “fake it till you make it.” That is not possible in the SEO job market. When you have the opportunity to have an informational interview or meeting with a potential employer they will find it very impressive that you can speak their language. If you make the effort to read industry blogs daily, use resources such and SEJ’s archives to find old posts on SEO basics, and find ways to practice reading source code and implementing meta tags, you are on the right path. There are many ways to teach yourself the basics of search marketing, and if you aren’t making the effort there are others who are.

4. Search Marketing = On the Internet = God’s Gift to Networking

People are not going to know of your interest in search until you become involved. Start off locally and you will be surprised just how willing people are to have lunch or chat about the latest SEO news. Twitter and LinkedIn are easily the best resources for professional networking. The first way I contacted Anvil Media, Inc. was by sending a tweet to one of the Senior Account Executives. When I sent it I was a little worried it might be stalker-ish, and now I sit next to her every day. It’s kind of an awkward thing to say, but we all pretty much live on the internet.

5. Persistence Versus Insanity

There is a fine line between being effectively persistent and over the top insane, but the point really is to never give up. To send in a resume and simply wait can be a risky proposition. I cannot tell you how many interviews I have gotten simply by following up with employers a week or so after first submitting a resume. The same goes for networking in general. Once you have a contact, stay in touch with that person. Over time you will have the opportunity to share your objectives and get advice at the very least.

6. Welcome to Search Marketing

As you can tell from this list, getting a job in search can simply be having a passion for this ever growing industry. If you enjoy strategizing campaigns, crunching numbers, helping clients succeed, and have a little bit of geek in you than you know that this is a place that you truly belong. Take your passion for the internet, organize your thoughts, and trudge forward towards a rewarding profession in search marketing.

Jeff Bedford

Jeff Bedford

Analytics & Optimization Specialist at The New Group
Jeff Bedford is an Optimization & Analytics Specialist at The New Group, an integrated digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Indiana University,... Read Full Bio
Jeff Bedford
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