A recruiter called me yesterday asking if I knew of any good candidates for a Director of SEM role. He was looking for someone with 3-5 years of search marketing experience to take over search management at an established and reputable company in Silicon Valley.

Normally, when a recruiter calls me trying to fill a position at an Internet company, the odds are pretty high that I’ll be able to dig through my LinkedIn list and find a few people that I think would be a good fit and would be happy to consider the position.

Over the last few years, however, I’ve learned to not even bother looking when I get a call for a director of search. Why? Well, they simply don’t exist. Basically, search engine marketing is such a hot profession right now that you only really have three types of search marketers: 1) entry-levels; 2) VPs; 3) independents or consultants.

You see, after the first 3-4 years of search marketing (your entry-level time period), if you are pretty good at the job you’ll either want a fancy-sounding VP position, or you’ll realize that you could probably make more money just consulting or starting your own lead generation business. So while “Director” sounds like a great promotion in most industries, in search it’s not enough of a carrot to sway good people away from a more general VP job or trying their luck with small business.

Some recruiters and companies have apparently caught on to this dilemma and they’ve come up with a good trick. Create a role that is really director level but offer it as a VP level. It’s actually not a bad strategy, but it can cause problems down the line when a candidate accepts the offer with expectations of leadership and ends up regulated to a functional role.

Probably the better tactic is to use the same trick, but on the other end of the spectrum. Rather than look for a VP that’s really a director, post for a director but expect to get a senior manager. In other words, put your job posting up there demanding 4-6 years of experience, but expect to find a great senior manager candidate with 2-4 years of experience. Though the candidate may lack some of the “strategic vision” you are looking for initially, you may find yourself with the director you actually wanted in six months to a year.

1 Comment

  1. jeremy December 8th, 2007

    Try finding a viral marketing product guy in this town! The speciality has only existed for about 1-2 years, and the folks who do it well are CEOs of successful startups, so getting asked for help to find a VP with 5+ years to join large company X is kinda funny

Leave a Comment

David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.