What do agencies look for in search engine marketing candidates?

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There is a premium on talent in the current search engine marketing (SEM) landscape. Since search is still a fairly new area, there are relatively few seasoned professionals with proven track records. It is rare to find someone with SEM experience covering several business verticals who is also fluent in the major search engine interfaces. These professionals need a strong understanding of the online business funnel and to have had successful results delivering ROI for a broad range of clients.

Furthermore, the success of SEM over the past few years has resulted in the shift of online media dollars from graphical/display advertising to search. Because SEM is extremely measurable and transparent, advertisers have recognized the potential for greater bang from their advertising buck. This shift has resulted in a shortage of premium SEM talent across the country.

Finally, there is enormous competition within the current marketing landscape. Direct clients, niche SEM firms, traditional agencies and search engines themselves are all looking to hire personnel with search skills.

Agencies look for a mixture of analytical and creative skills when hiring for search positions. With search, there is an enormous amount of data to sort through and organize in order to be successful. Not only is number-crunching and mathematics important, but creativity is essential to setting up campaigns within the engine interfaces and for deploying the many tools and tactics made available by the search engines. The main trait that to look for in candidates is one that cannot be taught: passion. We look for individuals who are truly passionate about SEM and who want to continue to learn about search.

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