SEO may be a scam, but you can still use it to find a job

Shonky SEO ideas to help you find a job

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a bit of a scam.

I know it. Anyone else with half a brain knows it. And the people who are charging big bucks promising the impossible know it. It’s what we at our company like to call ‘Triple F’. Fundamentally Flawed. (I’ll let you guess what the middle F stands for.)

I could go into the ins and outs of why I think this, but let me give you the oversimplified version. And then I’ll tell you why you should give a damn and why it’s relevant to your job search.

If you’re not on ‘page one’, you’re nowhere.

We all know being on page one of search engine results is the Holy Grail for any brand or business. How often have you clicked past the first page or so when you’ve been looking for something, right? Exactly. So assuming there are somewhere up to about twelve results on page one, what happens to the thirteenth SEO conman, sorry, ‘expert’ promising to get you on there? Not much, that’s what. There’s only so much room for so many companies who want to be found when you search for certain things.

And the same goes for when you look for a job. There’s only so much room on the ‘page one’ shortlist. Page two is nice, but it ain’t gonna get you that gig you so desperately want. What you need is some career ‘search engine optimisation’. Not the dodgy SEO stuff from the so called experts, but the real thing.

And it goes a bit like this:

  1. Start by knowing what any particular potential employer is searching for. They’re not all searching for the same thing. Find out what kind of things are important to them, (yes, you’re allowed to ask), and find a way to prove you’re that. Even if you’re not exactly that. Be creative. Adapt and improvise. Add some keywords to your CV. Just like my SEO friends would.
  2. Recognise you can’t be the top result for every possible search. Not everyone can be the most creative. In fact, regardless of how bad your math is, I’m guessing you can hang in there with me when I explain there’s only three spots available for the top three. If you’re not one of those, be one of the top something else’s. Top three hardest working. Top three nicest. Top three good at some specific skill. Pick something, or, in true SEO tradition, a few things, and be one of the top results for that. Just make sure it’s something people are actually searching for.

How I used SEO to be here writing this.

And just so you know I’m not handing out random, theoretical, useless advice, let me give you an example. The reason I’m writing this blog is not because I’m the best creative on Earth. Hell, I wouldn’t even make page 1,963,762 of that search result!

Albeit accidentally, a while back I decided to write a book about how to get a job in marketing, advertising, and design. Commercially, it was a pretty stupid decision. No matter how well written it was, let’s face it, it was never going to be the next DaVinci Code. There’s only so many people trying to get a job in that field in any given time, and most of them who are looking, are too damn poor to cough up the bucks to buy a copy of my book.

But it turns out there was room for me to be fairly close to the top of the list of people who write about finding jobs in the industry. So I became a bit of an expert at it without having to knock too many people off from the perch above me.

A word of warning – when SEO goes wrong.

As awesome as my advice is, please also hear this cautionary tale. As lovely as it is to be here writing this for you fine people, the opposite to effective SEO can also bite you on that ass.

The last thing you want to do is be a search result for something you don’t want to be or that is counterproductive to your goals.

You can just as easily be on page one of the search results for ‘people who get drunk all the time’ instead of ‘people who will work their tits off’. Or ‘that guy who writes about how to find a job’ instead of ‘that guy we pay heaps of money to come up with marketing strategy for us’. It doesn’t have to be something bad necessarily. It can also be simply be something that compromises what you want to known for. Just saying.

Rank high. And go for it.

Now, please hear me, I’m also not suggesting you pick a job you don’t want, just because it’s easier to get. I am, however, suggesting you consider the smartest, least competitive way to the desk you want to be sitting behind.

And don’t panic, you don’t need a $600/hr snake oil SEO expert to up your rankings. Just use your noggin. Ask around to find out what kinds of qualities and skills people value. Work out which ones you can rank highly in, and go be and do that. Get on the first page. And get yourself that job.

More reading:

Job seekers: how to get the attention of your dream employer
3 entrepreneurial lessons you can use to get your next job
Job seekers: How to make it easy for your next boss to hire you


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Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.


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