The Search Industry; Responsibility, Recruitment and how First Impressions DO Count


Responsibility in Recruitment

As I’m sure is true for plenty of our peers at digital agencies, we recruit new talent relatively frequently. We’ve been fortunate enough to have grown quite significantly in the past few years, particularly within our Online Marketing team. This means that with each new role, comes the (not wholly unpleasant) challenge of filling that seat with a suitably ambitious, smart and capable person to add to the team.


There are a couple of ways to fill those seats, fortunately we’ve been in the position to look for both experienced and less experienced staff in recent months;

  • Firstly; source experienced talent. Essentially get hold of candidates from other agencies, organisations and companies. This is done through various forms of social media – Twitter, LinkedIn(increasingly) and through external recruiters. A knock on effect of this is that in many cases, in a relatively close-knit industry, recruitment consultants create a vacuum by placing candidates in new roles, creating positions which they can fill with their own candidates – thus creating both the demand and supply. It’s a difficult one to comfortably accept as a way of agency life and an ‘aggressive poaching policy’ is something we’ve tried to steer clear of.
  • Secondly; create talent. As a recognised agency, there’s a certain responsibility to encourage young and inexperienced candidates to enter the marketplace, especially in an economic climate where graduates, school leavers and even those with significant work experience are struggling in many cases to get onto the career ladder.

Looking at the way we work, there are a couple of things that I know that Coast are particularly proud of in this regard. In particular it is our links with local education; our internships, lectures we have given in Online Marketing at the local institute (those were great fun and a real experience!) and also the ‘careers academy’ we have introduced. We’ve also been involved with the creation of the econsultancy courses in digital marketing. The point that I’m really stressing is that as an industry, we have to understand the importance of bringing more skills in to the discipline and enforcing best practises and strong work ethics.

In business, understandably, there’s frequently a trade-off between ethics and profitability. There are, however, plenty of opportunities to embrace a mature and progressive way to operate; rely less on pinching talent and nurture some of your own. You might find that loyalty is given a kick as a knock-on effect.

Social Media and First Impressions

The recent economic climate has shown a lot of applicants for the roles that we advertise, as well as a number that turn up when we aren’t specifically advertising roles. One thing that has changed in even the past five years, is that as an interviewer, you need not wait to meet the candidate for the first time on the day of the interview to learn plenty about them, especially in the Search Marketing Industry. There’s likely a lot of information out there on the internet on prospective candidates, whether intentional or not.


The point I’m trying to make surrounds the maturity of the industry and those that find themselves within it. In an industry that perceives anything over two years as a significant amount of experience (believe me – check the econsultancy job board), first impressions and initial observations do matter. A lot.

How do we react to the applicant with a shamefully information-sparse CV, who has upwards of 5000 followers on twitter, and claims to interact with them all on a regular basis? Is it right to be wary of that kind of self promotional behaviour and should you introduce it into your online marketing business? We’re well aware of the tools available and use them ourselves, but there’s only so much personal branding that I think a potential employer is going to need to take in.

Not too long ago, Internet policies in the workplace were far more strict – the online marketing role allows a ‘get out of jail free’ card for many, breaking free from the sanctions of the IT departments traffic and usage restrictions – Facebook is a ‘proven’ social media platform, so there’s no need to minimise that when the boss walks in. A constant stream of self-promotion on twitter and LinkedIn connections during work hours? Where do you draw the line between shameless self promotion and important social media exposure for your the host company and their brand?

Understandably, the argument persists that one should know the tools they work with, but I’d much rather see examples of work for clients, companies and brands in a professional capacity. There is one obvious exception to that rule; For the freelancer, the personal brand is essential – something which is true for established and visible industry players, like Richard Baxter, Rand Fishkin, Andy Beal or Dave Naylor. Then again, those aren’t the guys sending in their CV’s.

<I should probably sign off this post by stating that the views in it are my own and do not necessarily match those of Coast Digital>

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