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By Alastair Peacock
I sit here today writing as a recruiter of Paid Search (PPC) professionals and having spent a lot of time learning my market, building strong client relationships and because at Xcede we like to think we are a helpful bunch, I would like to share my knowledge on what I believe are the 5 core competencies my clients are looking for in their next hire…
1. Monthly Spend –
Whether it is a fairly nominal £500 from a start-up experimenting with PPC for the first time, or the multimillion pound expenditure that leading financial and mobile companies seem to be ploughing into paid search, the amount of spend a candidate is used to working with is often seen by prospective employers as a direct correlation to the quality of the PPC they have been doing. This is obviously a very crude measurement, but for many employers, hard figures such as spend are one of the few tangible assets that can be tracked.
2. Tools used -
Tracking tools, analytics packages, 3rd party bid management tools or tools developed in-house… it is rare that two companies request candidates to have experience using the same set of tools. Most employers take experience of Google Adwords as a given even for entry level roles and it is becoming fairly common place for them to expect Google Adwords Professional qualifications to be achieved before applications are submitted. For higher level roles, experience of at least one 3rd party bid management tool is often a minimum requirement (your Kenshoo’s or Marin Software’s) accompanied by use of an analytics package such as Google Analytics, Omniture or Webtrends. This often depends on the preference of the employer or their client. Although many of these tools produce a somewhat transferable skillset, it is just another way for potential employers to differentiate between candidates.
3. Number of keywords –
This is a slightly more grey area. When you get to the higher levels within PPC, the number of keywords a candidate has dealt with becomes less relevant as the use of the different 3rd party tools often automates the bidding process. With this said however, at the executive or management levels, being able to say a candidate has dealt with tens of thousands of keywords (or more) can often help to differentiate them from other candidates with 1-2 years’ experience even if it’s often dictated by the client/accounts that they are working on.
4. Agency vs. Client side –
This is a distinction that often arises when recruiting for an agency. One of the major things they look for is previous agency experience. The experience of handling clients and working in a position where a client’s needs are being met as well as those of the campaign is something that those working in client side PPC roles do not experience. As a result, once a candidate gets to a certain level working without agency experience, it is nearly impossible for them to make the transition to agency side.
5. Vertical experience -
The final thing that an employer looks for in a PPC professional is experience in the vertical that they wold be working in. Whether it is Travel, Finance, Retail or FMCGs, a PPC campaign can look very different. The Keywords/ AdGroups etc. that a candidate has experience working with can play a huge role in influencing an employer’s decision. Again this can be a very fickle judgement of an individual’s skill set. However it provides employers with yet another way to differentiate between candidates.
Obviously these 5 elements are just a small part of what makes an ideal candidate for my client’s wildest PPC fantasies. However, in a time where stone wall measurable qualities can be difficult to come by, these provide a brief outline to what many of my clients look for.
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