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Staffing up for search

I spoke to about 80 people today at Search Engine Strategies in New York City on the subject of staffing your search marketing team. (Slides can be found here.) I tried to help the attendees see that they can’t restrict themselves to candidates with search experience on their resumes. They need to be willing to hire people who don’t have the skills and train them. I even suggested that they be willing to hire a consulting firm to do that training and to fill in the gaps for skills they are struggling to hire. But I was bowled over by the number of people that attended the session who came up to me afterwards to ask me “How can I get a job in search marketing?”

Huh? I thought this session was prompted by the number of companies that can’t find the people that they need. I felt like saying, “You just sat next to 50 or 60 people who are hiring—where’s your business card?”
But then I realized that the people not being able to find work in search marketing are the very folks that I told companies to hire. The companies just aren’t doing it.
One man was a lifelong journalist who is tired of journalism. He wants something new and thinks search marketing is interesting. He could be a perfect addition to a team. He knows how to write a story on deadline. What’s more, he knows how to write an interesting story—one that might get passed around to others. (Hey, that’s social media marketing, isn’t it?) He knows how to fit his copy into a tight space. He knows how to write the big ideas at the top. He knows how to jam the right words into a headline. But he can’t find a job in search marketing.
We Internet marketers are not being creative enough. Instead of hiring someone like this gentleman, we’re screening for the keyword “search” and if it’s not on the resume, then we don’t want you. Then we complain that everyone we talk wants $30,000 more per year than we want to pay. And we’re upset that they take the training and experience we give them and leave in six months. We lament that we can’t find anyone to staff our teams.
But it’s our own fault. We need to accept that hiring librarians, translators, technical writers, journalists, and taxonomists can help us with the word part of the job—optimization and keyword research. We need to admit that hiring a statistician or a CRM analyst or a direct marketer can help us with the numbers part of the job.
My experience at is that hiring people from other fields looking for a change works very well. They are motivated. They appreciate you giving them a chance. And I found them to be surprisingly loyal because they appreciate what you did for them.
What about your company? Are you overlooking the easiest way to find candidates for your team?


Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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