If you’re a graduate looking to get a foot in the SEO door, there’s nothing more valuable than some sound advice from someone who has been there and done it.
Our recently appointed Account Executive, Tom, has done just that and has some advice for all graduates looking to impress in their first interview.
Over to Tom…
“Oh dear graduates. This time last year you were probably drinking cider through a Henry Hoover nozzle with the intention of capturing the moment for an amusing new Facebook profile picture.
Now you’re frantically searching for a job, with thousands of your fellow graduates straining to stand out, and clawing each others eyes out for an admin position at an mid-sized insurance broker. How things change.
Job-hunting isn’t nice and TV shows like The Apprentice and Dragons Den may have given you a skewed idea of what a formal interview is going to be like. But trust me, it’s not going to be like having Margaret Mountford destroying your mind with cold, personality melting logic. Or like Duncan Bannatyne eyeing you with pure contempt and calling you an insect.
The first one is always the most nerve-racking, but after a few interviews you get used to the cycle of despair and rejection. The key is to learn something from every interview, no matter how dire it was. I once had an interview where I was asked how many golf balls there are in the UK, and was asked to solve a difficult maths equation on a rickety laptop with broken keys, with a judgemental man looking over my shoulder. After that, nothing phased me. And for that, I am thankful.
But initially, picking yourself up and trying again after a poorly received interview can be tough. So, based on my experience, I’ve provided a brief set of guidelines to help you with the interview process, from an SEO perspective.
If you go in for an interview and you don’t suit the formal environment or the interviewer, it’s probably not for you. If everyone there looks like a pinstriped, intern botherer, with hate lines deeply embedded into the flesh of their angry faces, chances are you won’t fulfil your potential or enjoy yourself in that position. Unless of course you are also an angry pinstriped type of person. It’s important to find a job where you can (mostly) be yourself.
As there is no formal SEO qualification, most people tend to learn on the job. But you should have a decent foundation of knowledge to build from as employers will expect you to have at least a basic understanding of the industry. Spend some time reading the company website and blog to get a feel as to what makes them tick, find out who their clients are and what areas they specialise in.
This may seem obvious, but be honest. As a graduate you’re not going to know everything about the SEO industry but demonstrating a hunger to learn new skills can go a very long way. If you’re given a job based on skills you don’t actually have you’ll look quite the fool when it comes to your first day at work and you’re unable to perform your basic duties.
More and more nowadays, companies will check out the social media profiles of potential employees before, or during the interview stage. My desk buddy, Toby, once had an interview where he had his Facebook trawled through and scrutinised by an angry man, who asked if this was the sort of image the company wanted to portray. If you have any undesirable posts or pictures, either be rid of them completely or set your privacy settings to nuclear bunker mode. You don’t want to them to see the Henry Hoover + cider fiasco.
If there’s a recurring theme to your rejections, such as a lack of expertise in a certain area, rectify the situation by studying the area you are struggling with. One of the best questions to ask in an interview is this, “Do you have any doubts about my ability to do the job?”. If the interviewer outlines any shortcomings, you have time to convince them you are capable. And it also gives you vital information on how to prepare for any future interviews.
When the interviewer asks the feared “do you have anything you’d like to ask me about the role?” question, this is your time to shine. You can simultaneously show your ability to think on your feet and demonstrate how much you want the job. So be prepared for it.
I suppose the most important thing is to know that if you do get a job in SEO, is to work hard, read up in your own time and be a good person to work with. Due to lack of a formal qualification, a lot of people get a job in this sector purely through being a good talker. However, there has to be substance behind the patter.
This is a great industry to get into and has the rarest of requirements – a mixture of left and right brain activity. If you shine the career progression can incredibly quick and rewarding.”
If you’re a graduate with a passion for digital marketing, looking for an SEO graduate scheme and would like to put Tom’s advice in to practice, we would love to hear from you. Please email your CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.