I just got laid off after 8 weeks of working in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What should I do now?
I had just finished university when I got a job as a junior SEO analyst. In that role, I did keyword research, wrote client proposals, did content planning, and wrote meta titles and descriptions. I did this for about 8 weeks until about an hour ago when my boss told me he was letting me go. He said that it wasn't because of anything I did. He said the company didn't get a contract it was expecting to, and now they can't afford to pay me. He offered to write me a recommendation.
I sincerely enjoyed my time working in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and I'd like to keep working in it. The problem is there don't seem to be many SEO listings on job sites, and the only ones I can find require years of experience. Perhaps there is someone reading this who has been in a similar situation or has industry knowledge who can give me a bit of advice on what to do next. I was thinking I could maybe cold-call other SEO firms.
Oh, people always want a PhD level of experience in job postings. Don't let that discourage you.
Get a letter of recommendation from your former boss, NOW before he forgets about you and it's not a priority. If you need to bug him say you're sorry but you'd like to apply for a new job TODAY could he please email you a quick recommendation?
Apply to any SEO job you can find that is posted no matter what experience level is asked for.
Print out copies of your resume, a cover letter, and the letter of recommendation, and send snail mail to any agencies you'd like to work for, even if they don't have job postings up. Make sure your cover letter focuses on what you can do for them – you want it to answer the question, why should I hire this person? Most cover letters tend to talk about you, which is natural, but those are not good cover letters. Make it about them. I would do this in lieu of cold calling. Cold calling doesn't take much effort and it's easy to blow you off. Of course your letter/resume may be round filed if an agency isn't hiring or wouldn't hire a newbie but that's fine – you're only interested in the ones who might contact you. If you send a letter you're more likely to get past an answering service or receptionist who has no hiring authority. This is a numbers game, try to send out 100 resumes in the next couple weeks.
Contact all temp agencies you can find and apply for any writing job or website related job they have.
Set up a personal portfolio site, to market yourself directly to clients. Write up some samples to be used on the site – doesn't matter that these weren't used for a real client. Look at sites of other SEO folks' portfolios for ideas (don't steal anything directly just get inspiration about what appeals to you and what doesn't).
Then spend half your free time watching and applying for new job postings, and half reaching out to companies who you think would potentially hire you directly and drumming up your own work.
Don't do anything for free, or slave wages, unless it's for yourself (writing samples for your own site). Some people will take advantage of newbies who think they should work for the experience, not the pay. A decent company will pay you, but if you can't find that, then make sure any free work you do is solely for your benefit (your portfolio).
Others may have additional suggestions but that's what I'd do. Good luck to ya.
This is all really good advice. If you haven't already, I would recommend getting certifications in Google analytics and from SEMrush to pad your resume and further educate you on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Good luck!
Both of these are great advice!! Have you ever ran personal blogs/social media with following/built "views" anywhere (i.e., YouTube, Quora, etc.) I got my first job in SEO freshly graduated because I prove le on a small (10,000,000) scale, I knew how to find/target/rank for keywords well.
It's about what you know, but it's equally about how you phrase things on a resume (it's your 1st foot in the door.) I could've easily not mentioned I have gotten a few million views across a small amount of content because I know what I'm doing.
If they see there won't be a learning curve when onboarding you, you're more likely to be considered for the job.
Most companies look for digital marketing professionals that can tackle more than just SEO. More often than not, these companies don't understand it and throw it in as a bullet point on the job requirements of a random digital marketing position. So don't skip those over.
Building off of this, take a look at Search Engine Marketing (SEM), social media, marketing automation, and any other digital marketing aspect to expand you knowledge. You can get a free cert from Hubspot for automation. Cert with Google adwords for paid search. Take your pick. I would land digital marketing positions just because I could tackle their SEO, front-end dev work and paid search even though my strongest suit was Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Sorry about losing your gig. That's the worst when you've done nothing wrong. I've been through many acquisitions and lost jobs. One actually told me i should be happy because we were acquired because of the work I did. Not a good feeling. Feel free to reach out for any advice or thoughts
My advice buddy, like I did, get down your high horse and start with an internship in a Digital Marketing Agency again (a good one, check the reviews on Glassdoor). If they ask you why you want to do an internship, tell them you are motivated working in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but the employment market is tough.
Why do I advise you to apply in digital agencies? It's because that's where you learnt the more about your own discipline and where people love to share their own experiences in their own discipline
If you think your worth is up to a full time job, then keep applying and use this recommendation letter as a Holy Grail to pull the strings. If nothing is shaking in your boots, there are plenty of digital agencies all around the world.
Don't hesitate to fly out and explore abroad, like I did. I am mister nobody, so anyone can do it. Grow some balls, if not, follow the other recommendations.
Create your blog, prospect, autodidact, use Upwork platform, etc.
I got fired over some bullshit reasoning in November of 2020. I had no formal SEO experience with this company. I was doing shitty admin work under the title of Marketing Coordinator because this shit hole didn't understand digital marketing nor did they believe in it. They had outdated sales flyers from the 80s, and their website was built on SquareSpace which just mirrored the sales flyers. No organic content whatsoever. One month, I got bored and did a small, maybe 8 blog post organic campaign. I also got these guys setup in Google Analytics (GA), Google Search Console (GSC), etc. A month before I did these posts, I had taken 15/18 of the Moz academy courses during quarantine, because I didn't learn shit about SEO in college nor did I have any internships. Good results, but my boss decided to nix the initiative because "we can't leads from a website". FML.
Fast forward to November, I get fired. I apply to jobs with my old resume. Nothing for a week or two. I check out that old GA account for that job. Holy shit, over 100k impressions since that one month campaign like 8 months ago!
I had a one month free code to use on Adobe CC because of a GPU I bought in 2019 (shout out to Nvidia). I redeemed it and took a week to remake my entire resume. I booked headshots with a photographer and got them up on my LinkedIn which I updated. This resume, basically touts digital performance, and only my digital performance at the jobs I've held. The title I put at the top is Digital Marketing Specialist, and I got hired at the end of Janurary this year under that title, where I make 25% more annually, am respected by my team and by management, and get much more autonomy and reign over my day.
I'd be happy to chat with you privately, show you my resume, show you my LinkedIn, etc. The most important tips that got me hired faster, in a better position, where I make more money are these.
• Apply to everything, within reason. If they ask for 3-5 years of experience, you could make a case for it by saying your activities during college years comprise of the 3 years you'd need. 4-7 years of work experience specifically is going to make you look like an asshat if you apply and they give you an interview. In my opinion, if they don't specify that it has to be work experience and even if they just say "3-5 years experience working in this context" you could apply for it if you can make the case from your college experience.
• Don't count the agency applications. If you have a goal of sending 100 apps a week, then don't count the agency ones. For every agency app you send, do 2 or three other apps. This rule worked well for me on other things too like for every senior level position I probably wasn't qualified for, I would apply to 5 or 6 positions that were at my level and probably under it.
• Agencies, continued. Agencies in my area at least, are pieces of shit when it comes to posting jobs. They all say they want "agency experience" but they all post that on "entry level positions". When I applied to agency jobs, I always emailed someone there a link to the posting and asked "how would I be an entry level candidate if I need experience to qualify?". Wording it nicer gives you an opportunity to start a conversation, and everybody knows someone.
• Broaden your job titles. I applied to everything from Lead Generation Specialist, to Data Science Engineer all because I knew two lines of R Studio. Don't worry about it. The person on the other end looking at a Marketing B.S out of college knows you probably can't do it the best but maybe they think you can hack it and if not would like to pass you onto another team. When doing this, be sure to look over companies and their websites. If a suburban family owned manufacturing and packaging company is looking for a Digital Marketing Specialist but the duties underneath don't mention SEO, then they probably outsource most of they think you do to a shitty agency overcharging them. If you think you can get in, convince them to drop the agency, and move it in house to you, then go for it.
• f*ck certifications. No seriously. All those bullets about knowing Pardot, HubSpot, whatever the f*ck, they all post those because they probably use them and want you to know how to use them as well. However, we were born with a keyboard in our hands so we can figure that out. Just bullshit and say you've demo'd them and make sure you just ask how you'll be expected to use them. Worst case scenario, you moonlight a shit ton of videos or how-Terms Of Service (TOS) and you do it if you get hired. Also, flip the script on them! "How would I get used to using these tools if I don't have a use case for them nor could I afford the enterprise grade cost?". You could go make your own WordPress site to show you know how to work in HTML/Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), buy a 7 USD trial of Ahrefs and post some random content on there, but remember that time spent practicing your craft is time spent away from applying to jobs.
• Don't trip about disclosing why you're looking for a job. It's a pandemic, everyone is looking for greener grass, and you weren't fired for a lack of performance so you won't be projecting that insecurity during the interviews. When it comes to interviewing, make sure you know that the person you're about to spout off SEO/Digital Marketing stuff to is going to get it. Otherwise, keep it simple. Also try to understand what the interviewer is asking. I had to go through three rounds of interviews for this position, where I competed against a pool of 50 candidates. In the third round interview, the interviewer asked me how I felt about ambiguity. I thought about it for a minute before replying that I was comfortable with it, as most of our lives are uncertain all the time, and that I looked forward to the challenge of being pushed to work in what I didn't know. I aced the interview in that moment as the interviewer told me another candidate (who on paper was more qualified in years of experience, and was coming from a relevant company of over 300k employees) had replied instantly that she was uncomfortable with it and liked the training and onboarding etc, and therefore been dismissed.
Let me know if you'd like to connect over the topic. I've just gone through what you are at the moment and would be happy to support you however possible.
Research marketing agencies or businesses in your area that have an SEO team. Call each one enquiring about roles, remember who you speak to, wait one week and call them back. That's how I got my first role after just an internship. Don't give up whatever you do!
I've been looking for a junior SEO to help out with a few random tasks here and there. Nothing really on a consist basis I don't think unless things pick up. But if you're interested shoot me a message. We could chat and see if it works.
Stop focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and learn how to be a marketer.
SEO will fade into everyday roles in the next 5-10 years. Marketing is forever.
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