Feature: The SEM Hop, Skip, Jump

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Just the Right Employee

You've spent 2 months sifting through resumes for just the right candidate. She aces the interview process, and you agree to her salary demands, which are a bit above what you wanted to spend. You were even generous with the start date, one month from now. Oh yes, and she wants to work from home 2 days a week.

"Whatever it takes," you say, "now I can sit back and relax."

Well, maybe not. The job has just begun. Hiring is the easy part. Employee retention is now the thorn in the search engine manager's side.

Hot Property Like any growth industry, most SEMs have more clients than they can properly serve. Employees work long hours, and there is a limited quantity of known talent. Despite the cost of training, hiring new grads is often the best solution. What we forget is that this fresh talent isn't as green as perhaps we were when we entered the market. After all, Generation Y did grow up on the marketing we produced over the past two decades.

One west-coast colleague recounted his firm's story. "We had a 22 year-old who spent just a few weeks here before accepting another offer," he said. The kids not only understand demand, they understand spin. "All these college kids have back story on how they have been doing search marketing since they were 16," he added sarcastically. "So they negotiate an additional $20,000 with each move." As for the 22-year-old, "He's only been on his second job a few weeks and a third firm has just flown him to San Francisco for an interview."

Back in my day, "job-hopping" meant spending roughly a year in a job before moving on. Yes, going to the same job in sun, rain or snow, and facing the same drab cubical for a whole year. For today's interactive employees, job hopping has been reduced to mere months, weeks or even days.

Egg on Your Face

And you know whose fault it is? Our very own.

While SEMs expect employees to be loyal, the HR manager is encouraged to poach from the competition, even if the candidate has only been on the job for a few months. In the mad rash to grow, grow, grow, we have created a culture that does not respect the employer-employee contract. And so commences a young search marketer's career of hopping, skipping and jumping.


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