Have you ever wondered or been asked “What makes a great Search Engine Marketer?” Sure, there are certain skills that are very important when hiring someone with experience (knowledge of bid tools, Microsoft Office, etc.), but I am a strong believer that it is the characteristics a person already possesses that make a great Search Engine Marketer. I believe that with the right traits and training a person with zero experience in digital marketing can become a better Search Engine Marketer after 1 ½ years than the average 3-year industry veteran. Here are the four qualities I look for in every candidate I interview:
1. Strong Verbal-Communication
In an industry where the common language is gibberish to outsiders it is essential that you only hire great verbal-communicators. The last thing you want is a new employee to hop on a client call and start talking about LTV, Impression Share, and Auction Insights reports while the client’s head is spinning. A strong communicator listens and watches for signals and knows when to slow down, pause, and explain the topic in a way that an industry outsider could understand. When interviewing candidates be on the lookout for “Ramblers”: people who have a roundabout way of answering straightforward questions.
2. Strong Written-Communication
I always say, “We are not in the business of teaching spelling and grammar” when I have to remind my coworkers why I believe we should pass on a certain candidate. If this person will eventually write e-mails to our valued clients we need to ensure a high level of competence. With all there is to teach and learn in the SEM world, when it comes to teaching grammar and spelling, “We ain’t got no time for that!”
In an industry where things are constantly changing, new betas are being launched, and marketing channels work to assist one another, it is important to hire people that are creative, open to change, and open to testing. One question I always like to ask during interviews is: “What is one idea you had at your last company to improve or create a new process or project, whether it panned out or not?” I like to think of myself as an idea guy. If someone asked me that question, it would be my pleasure to talk for hours. If interview candidates cannot provide an answer to that question, do you really want them working for you in an industry that requires constant adaptation and creativity? No. And neither do your clients.
An ambitious person needs to put together a good presentation, needs client’s to hit their goals, and needs your company to hit its goals. That’s the kind of A-Player you want on your team. What is the candidate’s proudest accomplishment? Do they have a track record of success? What do they do with their free time? What are they currently reading? One applicant once answered that last question with “ESPN and Buzzfeed”. It’s safe to say that person was not pushing themselves to be better and smarter.
You can also measure ambition by giving candidates a take-home project that allows for creativity and see how much effort is devoted. Did they half-ass the project or did they go above & beyond?
Whether you are on the client-side looking to hire someone internally to work with your agency, hiring someone in-house to manage your paid search campaigns, or if you are an agency looking to hire a new employee, I urge you to heavily weigh the importance of these core 4 individualities.