It’s a tough racket out there in today’s economy. Unemployment is at the highest it’s been in years, as layoffs are happening all over the place and even growing companies are a little hesitant to hire new talent. In this kind of environment, it can be a difficult undertaking to find an employer who says, “okay, we’ll spend the money it takes to pay you full-time.”
This is for any job, let alone a search engine optimization professional, a job that’s often hard to quantify. After all, how do you “sell” what you can’t guarantee when no one has any money to pay you? I can hear many of you unemployed SEOs already: “Boy, Dan, I wish I was a pot maker or something.”
Well, fret no more: with a little creativity, a positive attitude, and plenty of hard work, you can find an SEO position even in this economy, particularly if you’re certain that SEO is your particular calling. After all, SEO still is a cutting-edge job in an advancing industry.
Here are 20 ways to find the SEO jobs that no one else is finding.
1. The traditional route: apply, apply, apply. It’s easy to apply for one or two SEO jobs, but if you’re really dead-set on finding a position as an SEO professional, you treat the application process as a business in and of itself. You cold call, you sent out your portfolio, you keep a spreadsheet that tracks your contacts, and you show up to job interviews ready for action.
2. Freelance. Freelancing is a great option if you’re the entrepreneurial type; if you’ve got some SEO job experience, you can quickly leverage that online at a site like Elance or Guru. Companies may not be looking to hire, but if they have SEO needs, they may just be looking to outsource.
3. The nontraditional route. When I started out in SEO, I actually took an SEO job because it related to writing, which was my major in college. Don’t turn down job offers just because they’re only about 50% of what you’re looking for – if it’s steady, interesting work you, should at least give it a shot to see if you can’t eventually become the full-timer.
4. Team up with Web design. Clients who are paying for Web design might also be interested in SEO – find out if you can make this work to your advantage at your company or among your friends. You can even approach Web designers and ask them if they will include your SEO service as a line item in their RFPs.
5. Attend conferences. The quickest way to meet people in the SEO industry is to go where SEO professionals go: conferences. You can network, rub elbows, and beg for a job if someone’s looking. Some excellent conferences to attend are Search Engine Strategies and Search Marketing Expo.
6. Take out an ad. If you have the spare cash from another job you want to leave, you might consider taking out an ad that displays your SEO job experience. When employers need employees, they make job placements, so why can’t you? Just make sure to place your ad somewhere relevant like a trade journal.
7. Build a blog. Build a blog with great content (translation: work hard on your posts), and you’ll start building your reputation as an expert SEO. Write free guest posts for other bloggers to get links back to your blog. The more your reputation is improved, the more likely someone is to come to you with work.
8. Build your own SEO business. Build a business, starting with a proposal you can make for your SEO services and take to companies that are looking to outsource. Show your experience, what you’ve been able to do in the past, and make sure your value is quantifiable. This requires an investment of time and money and you should only do this if you are serious.
9. Network. It may seem like enough to apply for jobs, but if you’re networking, you can also ask around for the SEO jobs that other applicants simply aren’t aware of. Just because someone can’t offer you an SEO job doesn’t mean they can’t be a great value to you; maybe they know someone who has an SEO job available but didn’t think to mention you unless you bring it up first. Be a little shameless.
Some of the easiest ways to network are online. Social networking sites are great tools for meeting business people who are interested in hiring search engine professionals. LinkedIn.com is one of the bery best places for accomplishing this.
10. Call headhunters. Headhunters and job recruiters can do great things for you for free – because they’re working for the companies seeking employees. Seek out these headhunters, tell them what you do, and ask if they know any companies that have SEO jobs for someone like you.
11. Take another job first. If you’re strapped for money, some of the above options might seem a little too time-consuming or financially burdensome. So take another job while you need the money; you can quit jobs whenever you need to. Consider it a stepping-stone to your dream job if you need a little inspiration.
12. Offer SEO for free. What? You want an SEO job here, not to work for free. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish if you offer great value for nothing in this world – if you truly are good at your SEO, the business who had you for free will want to pay you something. If not, hey, you’re building up your SEO resume. Try offering free SEO to larger companies and request that if they like your work, you can use them in your portfolio. Your improved resume will knock out potential employers.
13. Call SEO firms directly. You can apply all day, but sometimes, even employers with SEO jobs available can be tough nuts to crack. Call them directly to check on resume submissions, as well as to see who your contact for hiring should be. Again, be shameless; what have you got to lose? Your unemployment check?
14. SEO Forums. If the forum is large enough, you might find some work on an SEO forum from someone who is looking for an expert to handle their site for them. Most good SEO forums have a section that allow you to apply for jobs.
15. Move. If you really want an SEO job but live in Back Country, USA, you might have realized that where you live isn’t exactly at the forefront in technology innovation. Your career path might require you to move – if not to a big city, at least closer to one.
16. Sign up for SEO workshops. Like conferences, these workshops will have more value than the content itself – the networking opportunities will be excellent. But your goal here is slightly different: if you want to become an expert in your field, as the expert SEO how they got where they were, and how you can do the same.
17. Focus on your reputation first. By doing some of the above items – including building a blog and networking – you’ll eventually find your reputation growing. If you focus on this reputation, you might still be working at Denny’s, but in the SEO world you’ll be known as someone else. No one cares if Superman is really Clarke Kent on the off hours. If you’re already in college, it’s not too early to start on your reputation.
How do you improve your reputation? Offer value, offer value, offer value, and personally meet other experts. Simple enough.
18. Connect your name to other SEO professionals. The concept of “social proof” says that what one person sees others doing, the original person will want to duplicate. It’s the phenomenon that explains why we might walk in a room and observe how other people are behaving to get our cues on how to behave ourselves. If you can connect your name with top SEO professionals, you might find yourself landing a job before you know it, simply because of “who you know.”
19. Build a personal website. For simplicity, connect your blog to this site, but definitely make sure to build a site that essentially functions as a resume, highlighting your experience, your successes, your insights, and your credentials. When people ask about you, they should have a definitive place to visit and say “oh, that’s who they are.”
20. Take temporary positions. Some companies will look for a SEO professional who can work on a temporary basis with the possibility to hire. Don’t be turned off by the “temporary” label – if you work hard and provide real value, you’ll be wanted. At the very least, you’ll be building your resume.