Careers in SEO have been around for almost as long as there have been search engines. However, they only really started to take off in the Philippines in the past decade. You’ll now find Filipino SEO professionals everywhere, working in in-house marketing departments, SEO agencies, and as freelancers, earning competitive salaries and contributing to the growth of businesses all over the world.
This post is not for those people. Rather, it’s for the thousands more Filipinos who want to become SEO professionals themselves. If you want a job working with the country’s best SEO services, this is the post for you. Here, we’ll give you several no-nonsense tips that might help you get your start in the Philippine SEO industry.
Tip 1: Have the Right Educational Background
Most SEO agencies and in-house marketing departments will prefer college graduates even if it’s not strictly necessary. Here at SearchWorks, we’ve already hired several college undergraduates who have proven that they are equal to or better than their “better-educated” counterparts. We’ve even hired people with nursing degrees and other backgrounds that have nothing to do with search engines.
However, bear in mind that not all employers are as open-minded as we are. If you want to maximize the odds of landing an SEO job, it helps to have a degree. In particular, a degree in IT, computer science, marketing, mass communications, advertising, journalism, and other communications-related courses is likely to be considered, as these disciplines are useful for different areas of SEO.
By far, the most sought-after applicants are those with statistics, data sciences, and mathematics backgrounds. Applicants with these qualifications are extremely likely to be interviewed because of their rarity and value for agencies and marketing departments.
Tip 2: Coming From a Good School Matters
This is probably the most controversial point here. Both “high-end” universities and less-prestigious institutions can produce highly-talented digital marketing professionals. However, from the perspective of most hiring managers, prestigious (and therefore, expensive) universities tend to consistently produce better-quality graduates compared to lesser-known schools.
This shouldn’t be surprising. It costs a lot of money to provide good facilities and access to top-tier instructors, both of which do much to improve a student’s ability to learn. These higher-end institutions also do a lot to ensure that only the best students can be associated with them. Importantly, many of the students that get accepted into these institutions come from families with means and breeding, which gives them numerous intangible advantages in the way they act and present themselves.
While lesser-known schools can produce highly-competent and talented graduates, this happens less often because the infrastructure to ensure that everyone gains a higher level of competence of is lacking.
As a result, some hiring managers who want to save time will simply disregard all applicants who come from lesser-known universities, with little regard for the actual competence of individual candidates. It’s a cruel numbers game but that’s the reality of Philippine hiring practices.
Fortunately, there are plenty of hiring managers who are willing to do their due diligence and evaluate each applicant based on their abilities. Regardless, you should have no illusions about your chances if you come from a lesser-known institution. If you have the chance to send your children to a better school, you’d better take it.
Tip 3: Having Tangential SEO Skills is a Plus
Saying that SEO is a multidisciplinary field is an understatement. Professionals in this field can specialize in an extremely wide variety of technical and creative areas using diverse combinations of skills. Whatever education or experience you have, there’s a good chance that there will be a place for you in the industry. However, there are some key skills that will give you a decisive advantage over other applicants.
Proven knowledge of HTML, WordPress, and the backends of popular ecommerce platforms will almost certainly get your application noticed. Other sought-after skill sets include advanced coding, web development, marketing automation, and advanced Excel. Especially talented writers, content creators, and digital marketers with some SEO knowledge can also get ahead if the agency or marketing department they’re applying to has a unit that specializes in content marketing.
Tip 4: Look for a Reputable Employer
Not all job openings are worth applying for. Choosing the wrong employer will stunt your professional growth, forcing you to figure out everything yourself. This means you’ll have to work harder to develop your skills as an SEO. In contrast, great employers will help you grow faster by mentoring you and giving you the benefit of their experience so that you don’t have to work as hard to get to their level.
Thankfully, there are several reputable SEO agencies in the Philippines as well as a few great in-house teams that will give you a great start in your career. While we’re obviously biased toward our own agency, most if not all of the companies that regularly participate in PeepCon and other local SEO events are great choices for the ambitious would-be SEO professional.
Tip 5: Connect With Potential Employers
One good tip that will increase your chances of getting hired is to connect with potential employers on social media. Without being creepy, stalk them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Chances are that they will eventually post a job opening. When they do, be sure to respond to these postings ASAP.
Why? Business owners and managers are people like everyone else. They are far more likely to remember the first couple of impressive candidates they come across, often favoring them more than other equally impressive or better candidates that respond later on. Hiring managers see so many applicants that, at a certain point, everyone starts to look equally unimpressive. If you already have what it takes, responding early can do a lot to further increase your chances of getting hired.
Tip 6: Keep Trying
You can be the most qualified candidate in the world and still fail to get hired. Luck is a factor in job interviews, just as it is with other things in life.
But like the lotto, you have to be in it to win it. Remember: you only need to score once to get started on an SEO career. If you get rejected, it’s not the end of the world by a long shot. There are probably hundreds of other positions that you can try for that will help you get a solid start in SEO. Just keep improving yourself and keep trying and you should eventually land your first job as an SEO professional.
Tip 7: Do Your Homework
If you’re going to go into this career you’ll need to show genuine interest. The best way you can do that is to research all you can about SEO and the company you’re applying to.
It’s obvious why you should research basic SEO principles but it’s just as important to read up on the companies you’re applying for. Each company has different specializations, needs, and internal cultures and they will be looking for applicants that best match those.
If you don’t understand what the company needs, the hiring manager will know that you weren’t all that interested. And if there’s one thing hiring managers don’t like, it’s candidates who lack interest in the job.
Tip 8: (Try to) Relax During Interviews
It’s normal to be a bit nervous during job interviews. However, if it’s an interview for your first SEO job, it’s probably for a junior or trainee position. This means that the interviewers have very low but still reasonable expectations.
They will not expect you to understand much of anything beyond the basics of SEO. If you did, you will probably be trying for a higher position. Rather, they’re mostly checking to see if you have the right attitude for the job. This means that you probably don’t have anything particularly serious to worry about.
More often, the hiring managers will be checking to see if you were on time, courteous, and eager to learn. They also want to see if you actually looked up the company before you tried to apply. Even knowledgeable candidates who don’t meet these modest though often overlooked qualities are very likely to be rejected.
Critically, your demeanor during the interview is often more important than your stock SEO knowledge. Interviewers tend to be impressed by calm and confident candidates because, if you think about it, these are the types of people most of us would prefer to work with. So do what you can to relax and stay grounded and you just might have a better shot at being hired.
Tip 9: Try to Give Memorable Answers to Memorable Questions
Trick questions are usually meant to catch applicants off-guard, to see if they will try to BS their way through. The most important thing in these cases is not your actual answer but the reasoning you use to defend it.
These questions are commonplace in SEO and other digital marketing fields because they require both logic and creativity. Someone who would be overly flustered at these questions is probably not the type that enjoys challenges or the kind of person who tries to innovate.
At least, this is what some interviewers think. Though the real value of these types of interview questions is somewhat debatable, knowing how to deal with them by giving a memorable and well-constructed answer can increase your chance of getting hired.
A lot of factors can determine whether or not you’re considered for a position at an SEO agency or in an in-house marketing team. Many of these factors are within your control and a few aren’t. But if you want a career in SEO, you’ll have to learn to deal with rejection and do what you could to make sure that hiring managers see you as a good fit.
Ultimately, the best way to land your first SEO job is to keep learning. Learning whatever you can about SEO whenever you can will not only give you the technical know-how to pass your application exam but also the confidence you need to ace your job interview.
Think you have what it takes to be a part of our team? See if a career at SearchWorks is right for you.