Why Recruiters Don't Understand SEO


As an SEO specialist, I am constantly being messaged by recruiters offering me job positions in the world of SEO. Don’t get me wrong, its great to feel wanted and shows that the industry is growing if recruiters are trying to get in on the action. But sometimes getting 2-3 messages on Linkedin a day becomes annoying and feels like going through junk mail.
In my professional opinion, recruiters see SEO as another thing they can flog and earn some commission on, without understanding the fundamentals. Taking 2 minutes to run through some of my Linkedin emails, here are some of the flaws I picked out:

The Salary

Lets face it, most people move jobs because of salaries. Sure, there are other factors like the commute, the annoying colleagues or the direction of the company but earning more tops the list. My concern with recruiters is that they are offering salaries which are simply too low and here are some examples:
Firstly, if you are pitching for an SEO job, why do you need to know Adwords (genius) … But my question to you is: How does something ‘senior’ earn you £28,000 to £32,000? In my mind, this is still a junior salary – maybe a starting salary for a University graduate or at least a junior’s salary after 1 or 2 years.
If I’m senior, I want to earn £40,000, £60,000 or £80,000 – make it worth my while! The irony is that the average company that uses an agency will spend around £2,000 per month on SEO, so even if you work as a freelancer or start your own company and get just two clients you’ll earn £48,000 per year which is already significantly more than this Senior SEO Executive.

The Required Skills Are Made Up

It is very normal for any job to say the type of skills they request e.g communication, Excel, Google Analytics etc. But reading through some of the job specs I receive, some of these skills are irrelevant and bare no use for SEO. See an example below:
Product releases for SEO? What does that means exactly? SEO is not about releasing products, you are trying to get up Google for Pete’s sake.
Keyword targeting and reporting (OK, those make sense), but A-B testing? This is not relevant to SEO because you are simply using techniques to go up Google, A-B testing is effective for PPC though.
Content acquisition? Do you mean writing content?
In other words, these are just a bunch of buzzwords which are not relevant and no one really knows what they mean.
The opportunities I receive regularly ask for knowledge of html, Asp, Java, SQL and Php (and others). Whilst useful, these are not essential by any means, other than maybe a basic understanding of what they are (especially html) but certainly no need to know how to code them.

Need 5 Years+ of Experience

Very common in recruitment or job specs, they ask for a certain number of years but thinking specifically for SEO, having 5 years does not help you and in fact it could hinder you. With Google changing its algorithm so often, some techniques used 5 years ago are no longer effective and can do your website damage. If you learnt SEO 5 years ago, you may have the same mindset (and I see this regularly) so having someone with a solid 2 years of experience is probably ideal.
If you want someone with 5 years experience, you should just say that you want someone aged 30 and above or wait, that’s discrimination …

My Advice

Dear Recruiters, I get it, you want to make money. All I ask is that you take a few hours to read about SEO and how it works. SearchEngineWatch or Clickz would be good places to start and also any book by Andy Williams. By simply understanding how SEO works and the requirements, you will show potential candidates that you really know what you’re talking about and they will respect you for it – making it more likely to secure the job position.
So read up a bit about SEO or maybe even sit down with an agency that you’re working with for just an hour. There is no doubt that you will be able to provide a more targeted job specification that will incentivize and ultimately lead to you making a sale.