Recruiting the Right People for Your SEM Business - Part 1

The success of your search marketing business depends on the quality of the staff you hire. Getting the right people will largely depend on how you go about the recruitment process.

If you've been a one-man operation until now, hiring your first employee is a major milestone. However, making the wrong choice can seriously impact your business.

Is Hiring the Right Choice For You?

When your workload dictates that you need help, you can explore other avenues before taking on a permanent staff member. One option is finding a reliable contractor and farming out work. Or, you could use an agency to find a temporary employee.

Both are good options because, if the person doesn't work out, or if your financial situation changes, you can easily stop using them. It also gives you the opportunity to evaluate a contract hire as a potential permanent employee.

The other major advantage: keeping costs down. There are additional costs associated with a permanent hire, including taxes, paid vacations, and health insurance, that you need not worry about with contractors or temps.

If you decide to hire a permanent employee, you're probably looking for someone with talents that will complement the ones you have, or someone with similar talents who can ease your workload. In other words, you're looking for someone who can contribute to your business and help it grow.

If you find the right person, you'll want to keep them. This means you must offer something they're looking for -- a competitive salary, an attractive benefits package, or a comfortable work environment. Find out what's important to them and try to meet it if the person is right for your organization. Even in this industry where crazy salary numbers are being quoted, money isn't always the driving force.

If you decide to hire an employee, you must find suitable candidates for the position. Recruitment can be challenging!

Determine What You're Looking For

First, decide what you want. Write a job description that accurately reflects your needs for both now and the future. It's important to continually look ahead, as hiring can be a lengthy process.

Once you document what you need, determine where to look. Look around the Web and on search job boards for similar job descriptions to help you compile your job ad and description.

Ask some questions. Is this a position that will attract national interest, or do you want to keep your hunt local? (If you go with a national search, candidates may need relocation packages -- something most small businesses don't offer. If this is the case with your company, make it clear in the ad.) Do you want to find a trained employee or are you willing to train? How likely are you to find people with the specific talents in your area? What type of personality are you looking for?

If you're hiring on a national level, there are several sites that host search marketing jobs. These include SEMPO, Search Engine Watch, SEO Consultants, Marketing Pilgrim, and Oaseo.

Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Naymz, and Facebook, also provide excellent opportunities to find and communicate with potential candidates. There are also numerous search groups on social sites to network with.

On a local level, I've used online newspaper classified ads, Web sites of local marketing and technology groups, and Craigslist, for example. I've also used local recruitment agencies and companies such as Monster. From my experience I've had best results doing it myself.

Today we've looked at evaluating your needs for hiring employees, and determining what exactly you need to grow your SEM agency. Next time: the actual mechanics of hiring, including writing the job ad, evaluating the candidates, and conducting the interviews.

About the author

Fionn Downhill is the CEO of Elixir Interactive, a digital marketing agency that helps companies build and grow their customer relationships online. After building up a specialist agency in search engine optimization and paid search, Elixir Interactive expanded its digital marketing services in May 2008 to include social media optimization, reputation management, e-mail marketing, mobile marketing and user-experience design..

Elixir Interactive strives to leverage its experience in search to help clients create, optimize and distribute targeted content that reaches the right audience in the right place at the right time. By combining the intelligence gathered from search with the power of the social community, Elixir Interactive can help its clients better understand their customers, extend the reach of their brand, manage their online reputation and create compelling user experiences that truly connect with the target audience..

Fionn previously worked with organizations such as British Airways and Price Waterhouse. Fionn is involved in the advancement of search marketing and is a strong advocate for best business practices in the industry.

She is the Chair and a founding member of the SEMPO Institute, which was launched to provide first class training for the search engine marketing industry worldwide. Fionn is an established author and frequent speaker on search marketing. In March 2007, Fionn was elected to the SEMPO board of directors.