Omnichannel commerce | Hiring
Expert Tips for Hiring Experts
March 29, 2018
Hiring a specialist such as a search engine optimisation professional can be a challenge. You're seeking an expert because you don't have the necessary expertise, but without the necessary expertise, how can you gauge which applicant best meets your needs?
Stephan Spencer, a longtime search marketing consultant and author of Google Power Search, has some advice, which he outlines in his white paper "SEO Hiring Blueprint." You can apply many of his suggestions to hiring for other specialties as well, such as engineers, marketing analysts, and designers. For instance:
A/B test your job postings.
You know how important it is to test various aspects of your marketing and advertising, from email subject lines to catalogue covers. Job postings are a type of advertising, so why not test those too? "Try including the salary range, then not including it," Spencer suggests. "I found in my testing, for example, that the term 'geeky' in the title attracted much more qualified candidates than the term 'wicked smart.'"
Read applications for more than qualifications.
Yes, you want your SEO pro to have solid SEO expertise. But you also want him or her to pay keen attention to detail. Whoever you've delegated the task of reviewing applications should look out for typos and similar errors. "Lack of attention to detail in the application process portends even greater lack of attention to detail in the job itself," Spencer writes.
He also advises including in your job posting some sort of question that applicants need to answer or a riddle they need to solve. For one thing, you can learn a lot about prospective employees from their responses. For another, if they fail to respond, then they either didn't read the posting thoroughly (showing a lack of attention again) or they're not willing to put in that bit of extra effort—and if they're not willing to do so now, they surely won't be once they have the job.
Review their social media profiles.
How's the spelling and grammar in their posts? Have they posted any racist, sexist, or otherwise objectionable content? Have they badmouthed previous employers? Do they network with other SEO professionals? Try to go back at least a year in their history to get an accurate sense of their character and industry involvement.
Get fairly specific in the first interview.
Beyond asking about their experience, successes, and challenges, how they keep up-to-date with industry advances, and the like, ask more-pointed questions. For SEO professionals, these might include "What are your favourite SEO tools, and why?" "What is your philosophy regarding link building?" "How much additional traffic and revenue did your most successful SEO project generate? What was that project's return on investment?"
Have an industry expert sit in on the second interview.
An SEO professional knows which questions to ask about best practices, recent advances, and the like—and which answers serve as warning signals. If you've been working with an SEO consultant, have him lead the second interview. If you haven't, consider hiring one for this purpose or calling on colleagues in your industry who may be SEO pros. Again, this also holds true for other positions outside your area of expertise.