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What’s the Most Important Quality to Look for in a Search Marketer?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what makes the ideal search marketer. We’ve been doing quite a lot of recruiting, which is never easy, and I’ve been discussing whether we ought to re-jig our company mission statement. Both these processes have converged and led me to believe that the most important quality in any search marketer is being inquisitive. Let me explain why.

Courtesy of @bigtallguy on Flickr

We’ve had an excellent couple of months at SiteVisibility, on top of doing great work for our clients with the kind of return on investment that means they are queuing up to spend more, plus lots of new clients who want to work with us, has meant we’ve gone on a bit of a recruitment spree.

Being a boutique search agency we’ve never been in a rush to take on people, but in the last week we’ve offered three people roles. There’s about thirty of us at SiteVisibility so adding 10% of new blood to the team is a big step. As anyone involved in recruitment around SEO, PPC and Social will be able to tell you, it’s hard to recruit top talent.

Firstly, it’s still a new industry, therefore there are not a lot of people with extensive experience. Secondly those with the skills are usually pretty well-retained. Most agencies know how to treat their staff well, and we’re a pretty loyal bunch too.

Despite this difficulty, we had some great candidates come forward. That makes the job much harder, deciding who’s the right candidate. We’re a close-knit bunch and you want someone who can be part of our own little attempt to create history.

Across the three roles we were recruiting for – me and the other people involved quickly came to a consensus on our preferred candidates. I then had a bit of a think about what were the similarities between the candidates and our team, and how that differed from the talent that didn’t quite make the grade.

It was being inquisitive – that inquisitive-ness manifested itself in different ways, some for travel and languages, others in an entrepreneurial life, the hustle of creating something from nothing, but that passion for learning, adventure and doing things in new and better ways for our team and those we’re looking forward to working with.

Around about the same time, I sat down with the rest of the management team for a session on future strategy. One of the items on the agenda was whether we wanted to revisit our Mission Statement. I’ll be honest this type of ‘corporate’ stuff isn’t exactly up my street, I share a similar perspective on company culture to 37signals, which they express brilliantly in “You don’t create a culture. Culture happens”, but as this coincided with my thoughts about recruitment it was a discussion I really enjoyed; especially fighting the corner for inquisitive-ness.

One of the clichés in the world of search and social is how quick our world moves, like most clichés there’s an element of truth in it. You need to want to know more about how search engines, social networks and websites work. You can get training on these areas, but you’ve got to want to know them in the first place.

Inquisitive people see a quirk in a search result and can’t rest until they’ve sussed it out or found someone who understands why that happens in that way.

Inquisitive people hear about a clients’ products or services and can’t help but ask twenty questions about how they work, how they are positioned and how they work for their customers.

Inquisitive people want to understand why you can’t do something in a certain way, and try it just to be certain.

Inquisitive people know they don’t know everything but they know they can know more. And get started now.

There’s no doubt you will have heard the sad news today that the world has lost one of the most influential and inquisitive figures of my lifetime. I think nobody embodies the inquisitive spirit more than Steve Jobs and I think his oft quoted “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish” is an adage we all could learn from.

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1 Comment
  • Kevin Gibbons on October 7, 2011

    Great article Kelvin! Completely agree on inquisitiveness – have thought this for a long-time, the people who ask questions and don’t just accept answers are the ones who can normally take things a step further.

    e.g. if there’s a Google algorithm change, don’t just read about it, question it. ‘Why did they do it?’, ‘what does it impact?’, ‘how do they make more money out of it?’ etc… And test it! The lazy approach of just reading about what the likes of SEOmoz think about it isn’t go to get you very far. Still do that, but definitely don’t rely on it.

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