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Search Marketers: How Do You Find A Good One?

As certain industries emerge into the Corporate Limelight (such as Paid Search and Organic Search) and attract multitudes of investors, private and public companies and localized talent, it’s important to note that not all search candidates are created equal. Let’s face it, you can tell a very good search professional/expert by (1) google search on their name (2) resume (3) knowledge of what is happening in the search world today vs. yesterday (4) "real world" common sense experience of "trial & error" (5) Overall Web Marketing experience.

The question is: Due to a lack of supply for this strong demand, is bringing in non-experienced people in to the limelight a bad thing, or is it simply an intelligent decision in order to capture and train smart, intelligent people to handle this huge demand for search excellence. Due to the lack (quantity) of experience in this explosive industry, there is a possible trend emerging where companies are hiring people with little to no experience at all with the hope to mold and train them within the company. In some aspects this does make sense, but the issue is that how long will the training process take and can these newbies learn quick and pick up search in time as compared to a seasoned search professional. In fact, we have to consider how low are companies willing to go in order to train people.  Perhaps, this direction may be more of a distraction than innovative hiring ideologies. Think about it, these new people would have to be trained at various levels, expected to execute on deliverables and what may have taken you 5-10 years to learn, they are told in months all (most) of the "tricks of the trade" that you earned over the years.

Some companies may use the term "horsepower" to identify candidates with strong learning potential yet they have no actual hands-on experience. These candidates may be  more attractive to them than those
with years of proven and documented experience. Why is that? They would
rather deal with an overall smart person who can pick up the basic stuff, be analytically minded and have the ability to learn "on the fly". The problem is "REALITY". What happens when the client doesn’t implement the changes, or you run into server issues, or your budgets and/or profit margins are not correct, etc… These are the things that a seasoned and experienced search
marketer can understand and fix fairly quickly. Why? Because they have done it before and know what to look for.

Finding Good Search Marketers is Difficult:
It’s all about Geography and Location. If your lucky, you could find someone who is willing to relocate their lives for you. Of course, companies know this and they are having a difficult time finding good search people. So, to their defense, it’s easier for them to bring them in, have someone train them and hope that whatever client they are assigned to, their deliverables and expectations are met during this learning curve. However, there needs to be a  "middle of the road" solution to make this philosophy profitable , other than getting them cheaper.

In conclusion:
In my humble opinion, it truly is difficult for companies and/or agencies to find good and experienced search marketers. It’s just a matter of supply and demand. But we need to be careful and filter out the ones who sneak through the hiring process because someone who thinks they know search because they read or heard something from a blog, book or a pod-cast is a problem. Honestly, it takes years of trial and error and
business sense to plan and execute successful search projects.

I  typically try and avoid "ranting" on my blog, but for some reason it’s a sticking point with me. It’s important to note that experienced Search Marketers have dealt with the good, the bad and the unpredictable. We have worked and still work today in the "trenches" and many of us still enjoy it. Search Marketing cannot be looked upon as an industry that can be taught overnight for 12 easy payments of $9.95 and if you order now you get a FREE Google Fridge. It’s like every industry, where you grow professionally, build your contacts and climb the corporate ladder.

Funny, when I am thinking about bringing in a candidate before the interview, I do the following:

  • Google Search on their name ( If I don’t see them anywhere, that’s a problem)
  • Look for any online portfolios
  • Look at the companies or agencies websites for clients/servcies, etc…
  • The positions they have held in the last 5 years
  • The length of employment at each of these jobs.

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