I get search engine marketing job opportunities on LinkedIn almost every single day! Let me say that again: Almost every single day, I get emails via LinkedIn from recruiters who want to offer me jobs at various companies. Let me say that yet another way: I have never actively applied for a job in the last 5 years (except my first job out of college). Three consecutive search engine marketing jobs all better than the last have “come to me” via LinkedIn, despite the economy being rough. This could be you too! There is no reason you cannot be in my shoes. Today, I’m looking forward to sharing my LinkedIn strategy with you and why it’s absolutely critical to growing your career in search engine marketing.
The Fun Part: The Psychology of SEM Job Opportunities on LinkedIn
I’m going to start with the fun stuff and work backwards to the tactical implementation stuff. In my opinion, understanding the psychology of the situation and the recruiter’s perspective is everything. At one time or another, we’ve all wanted a new job. Sometimes the fit just isn’t right. Sometimes you’ve outgrown the position. However, let me get right to the point: You don’t want to actively look for jobs because you won’t be as likely to get a PPC job that way (or if you do it might not be on “your terms”). So, if you’re going to want to actively look for a job at one point or another, but don’t want to actively look because you won’t be as successful, what can you do? Invest in building a robust PPC LinkedIn profile!
Just think of the psychology of the recruiter. If you’re actively looking for a job, they know you’re looking. Your cards are on the table. Now, let’s look at the passive PPC candidate, the pay per clicker who built up an awesome LinkedIn profile (just like me). You’ll start getting job opportunities because you aren’t looking. Recruiters love candidates who aren’t looking. They have demonstrated that they’re not only good at what they do, but they can hold down a job and stay committed to a company (which is exactly what they want).
Going back to my point: At one time or another we’ve all wanted a new job. However, my advice to you: Never, give the impression that you’re looking. Keep your cards close. Build out a great LinkedIn so you’re always getting offers. Then, when it’s time for you to move, just wait for the perfect LinkedIn passive SEM opportunity and jump all over it!
An important word of caution: Many times, you don’t want to move. It is possible to find the perfect fit – I’m there right now! Just because people contact you on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you need to entertain the offers and most of the time you won’t want to.
How To Play The LinkedIn Passive Candidate Game
The game is actually quite simple. Most of the time, when you’re not looking for a job, you can respond nicely to the opportunities you get on LinkedIn. I’ll typically say, “Hi, thanks so much for contacting me. I’m currently running the pay per click team at XYZ company and am doing really well. I’m not looking for new opportunities at this time, but please feel free to add me as a connection on LinkedIn and I will add you back. Here’s my email address that I use for LinkedIn so you can add me: your email here. Things always change in this industry and perhaps we could work together at one point or another.” This message is very high leverage. It’s like a snowball effect. The more recruiters that friend you on LinkedIn, the more offers you will get over time.
Now, let’s say it’s a year or so later and times have changed. You’re ready to move. Or, perhaps you’re not really thinking of leaving but get an opportunity you want to investigate because it’s an awesome opportunity. This time you respond, “Hi, thanks so much for contacting me. I’m not actively looking for new search engine marketing opportunities because I’m doing really well at my current company. In fact, I just got promoted to XYZ title and accomplished XYZ accomplishment. However, even though I get a lot of opportunities on LinkedIn, yours really stands out. I would like to learn a bit more and could we set up a phone call or meet for coffee?” The beauty here is even though you are looking (and believe me your response makes this apparent to the recruiter right away), you are still a passive candidate which gives you leverage towards success.
So, there you have it, that’s the LinkedIn SEM game. It’s been a real asset to me all these years and I now hope you can leverage it to your advantage. Next, we’ll get into the details of how you can build your LinkedIn profile so you start generating these job opportunities that allow you to become a great passive PPC candidate!
Building The Ideal PPC LinkedIn Profile
I’ll start with a funny story. I never used LinkedIn at my first job, NexTag. I only started using it at QuinStreet because it was very popular with everyone there. So, I’ve actually built up a profile with 500+ connections and 45+ recommendations in only three years. How did I accomplish so much in three years? It actually started with an informal competition between myself and a co-worker, one of the coolest co-workers I have ever had. We wanted to see who could get to 500+ connections first. I ended up winning by not only getting there first but also changing the rules of the game by incorporating recommendations as well. The key point here: Making the best possible LinkedIn profile for SEM requires a bit of fire and passion. Make a competition with someone else or at least set some goals for yourself. As with anything, you need a bit of motivation to stick it through because it will take you hours and hours (and more hours) to build it out, but believe me: It’s worth it!
Search Engine Marketing LinkedIn Rule 1: Get To 500+ Connections
LinkedIn has been around long enough that a 500+ connection goal is now mandatory. Before, you could get away with a few hundred, but now there are just too many people with 500+. Now, you won’t get there overnight, but please add anybody and everybody you can. One of my great leverage points: I have been at multiple companies. Because of that fact alone, I was able to get to 500+ fast because I have worked with many different people over the years. I was able to add all of my NexTag and QuinStreet co-workers.
Some other tips: Add your college friends, add all of your search engine reps (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, second-tier), and make sure to add all the recruiters who contact you (mentioned above). Another tip: When people are leaving or joining your company, make sure to introduce yourself and add them on LinkedIn. People who are in a “transition phase” will be more likely to add you back quickly. Do you attend SEM industry conferences such as AdTech, SES, and SMX? You should be! Meet people there and add them on LinkedIn. The ways of meeting new people are plentiful and moreover everyone is on LinkedIn these days. To have an SEM LinkedIn that’s at the top of the list you need to keep pushing until you get to 500+ connections.
LinkedIn Tip 2: How To Get Numerous Recommendations
It used to be that 500+ connections alone was good enough. Now, in my opinion, there are too many people at 500+. How do you differentiate yourself? You get as many recommendations as possible. I have 45+ now and I eventually want to get to 100+. Now, let me take a step back and underscore that junk recommendations can actually damage your profile. Therefore, the goal should be as many quality recommendations as possible.
Well, it’s easy to say this, but in practice how do you actually accomplish this goal? My strategy has been straight forward: Send everyone you’ve worked with a recommendation request and tell them that you’d be happy to return the favor with a very strong recommendation. By telling people up front that you’re going to give them something good in return, they’ll be more than happy to write you a good one. Another tip: Go out of your way to do a good job at work and build solid connections. If people like you and you promise a strong recommendation in return, you’ll hit the ball out of the park. Of course, after you get a recommendation to your liking, make sure to make good on your promise and write a strong recommendation in return (I always try to make my return recommendations the same “strength” as the one that was written for me).
LinkedIn Tip 3: Apply SEO 1.0 To Your Profile
LinkedIn has gotten better about this over the years, but you can still apply basic SEO to get your profile ranking well on the appropriate keywords. Make sure to include all relevant keywords in your profile. Make sure to build out your profile and invest at least a few hours summarizing your experience, qualifications, accomplishments, and more. If you get the right keywords in there and repeat all the different variations (pay per click, PPC, search engine marketing, SEM, search engine optimization, SEO, paid search, etc.), your profile will show up for relevant searches. Want to show up more on a particular query? Repeat it several times throughout your profile.
However, one word of caution: Don’t go overboard. I’ve seen profiles that are just bombarding the system with duplication. I’m an above board businessperson and can’t say enough about going that route and the long-term leverage it gives you. Don’t be cheap about it. Do the right thing and you’ll get even more respect as a result! Another tip: Make sure to link to your public LinkedIn profile from your personal webpage, facebook page, etc. to get it a high ranking in the Google, Yahoo, and Bing search results for your name.
LinkedIn Strategy 4: Protecting Your Established SEM LinkedIn Profile
So, let’s say you’ve built up a great profile and you’re now in my shoes. Just like anything, once you’ve built scale, you want to protect yourself. I have one very unique and important tip: Go to your outstanding requests and remove all the ones who haven’t accepted. It’s happened to all of us. There’s that fool you’ve worked with in the past, but for whatever reason they say they don’t know you. Once you’ve reached your goal, why risk someone saying they don’t know you? This actually goes against your standing in LinkedIn and if you get enough of these you can’t add anyone else. Moreover, your account could actually get shut down. Once you’ve surpassed 500+, I recommend removing all your outstanding requests and moreover being extremely selective about adding more people (let them add you instead).
LinkedIn Is At The Core of My SEM Career Strategy
To close out, I really hope this has helped. I realize this is a long article, but I think it’s all very meaningful stuff. If you invest some serious time building out your LinkedIn and understanding the recruiter’s perspective, you’ll be positioning yourself to get from pay per click associate to director of SEM within 5 years, that’s what I did!
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