Tips For Graduates Applying For SEO Roles

This is a guest post by Dan Taylor, an “SEO in Manchester” and active blogger on his own and companies blog. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily State of Search. Like this post? Let us know!

Or so you graduated…now what?

I have recently been interviewing for a graduate SEO role at Just Search, where I am SEO Manager. I have had some success – we employed an excellent candidate (who ironically didn’t have a university degree) but enough of the same issues kept on coming up that I would share my tips on getting your first job in SEO.


Yes I know, you’ve been to uni and you are just starting a career, but this should not stop you from getting experience in SEO. Use your personal sites, friends & family sites and any website you can get your hands on. Trial and test different strategies and report what works best.

Try and get a temp/part time job doing something related. Do not leave university and work a couple of days a week in retail for 6 months and not do any personal development.

The most important part of getting experience is to learn as much as you can yourself about SEO, and in particular Google Analytics – know about goal funnels, conversion rates etc and you have a foot in the door.

Avoid The Devil (Recruitment Agencies)

Recruitment agents are driven by commission – their basic salary is low and commission high. The more people they put in front of an interviewer the higher the change of the pay day. They will put you forward for everything and anything – even if it is not suited.

Do Apply Direct – Even If Not Advertised

Recruitment agencies cost companies money – for every successful candidate they get a percentage of the salary. If you apply directly to an SEO company, even if they have no roles they WILL keep your CV on file and be in touch when they have something available – before going to the recruitment agencies. It can take as little as half a day to line up enough interviews to almost assure you of an offer so why would you not do this yourself. Also applying direct shows drive and initiative – great qualities in applicants.

Read SEO Blogs – Not Books

Whilst the general backbones of SEO are fairly stable it is in general a very fast moving industry – so much so that a book is pretty much out of date by the time you buy it. A blog on the other hand is very fresh and bleeding edge – keep on top of the latest industry blogs and name drop them in your interview.

If you are asked what SEO Blogs you read and you say none – this will be a major negative.

Get Twitter

Not just sign up, ‘get’ it. Follow the right people – and mention them in the interview. Directly converse with key industry figures (hopefully the interviewers) and mention what they have been saying in your interview.

Be Personable

You will more than likely be asked about your out of work interests but if not – bring it up, as you will be being judged on your personality – after all we are employing for a team.

Lastly – Be Realistic

Salaries in the industry tend to be very good – but even the best graduate applicants need to understand that they are the entry level for the industry and adjust their salary expectations accordingly. Progression (both salary and role) can be very rapid so reaching your salary goals should not be an issue further down the line.

This is a guest post by Dan Taylor, an “SEO in Manchester” and active blogger on his own and companies blog. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily State of Search. Like this post? Let us know!

(added by State of Search)

About State of Digital Guest Contributor

This post was written by an author who is not a regular contributor to State of Digital. See all the other regular State of Digital authors here. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of State of Digital.

5 thoughts on “Tips For Graduates Applying For SEO Roles

  1. Great post, Dan. One thing I would also add is that – in my experience – a scientific background can really be beneficial, purely due to the analytical nature of search and the type of mind it appeals to. At the more detailed, technical end of search – where we operate – the highest performers often come with a technical engineering background.

    When we at Searchmetrics are hiring, SEO knowledge – while obviously crucial – isn’t necessarily the deal-clincher, as most things about search can be learned on the job and it’s an ever-changing industry. What also impresses us is the candidate’s passion for search, creativity, enthusiasm for technology in general and also their willingness to learn.

    I’d also recommend that a graduate demonstrates that they understand the business imperatives of SEO. It’s not just about rankings; it’s also about creating rankings that in turn create revenues for that organisation.

    We have a few roles open in the UK and Germany right now and would love to hear from strong candidates:

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