As an SEO, your CV is the most important tool in your job search. Without a well written CV it’s much more difficult to get your foot in the door of the interview process. And worst of all, you’ll waste countless hours applying, and being rejected, for jobs that you could be perfect for.
Which is why we’re here to help you with SEO CV tips, complete with examples that will help you secure the next step in your SEO career.
A great SEO CV should contain three sections: A ‘Career Summary’, your ‘Skills’ and your ‘Work Experience’. Because you don’t have much time to grab the attention of the Hiring Manager, Recruiter, or whoever is reading your CV. And while you have that attention, you need to effectively convince them that you can do the job they’re hiring for.
Your SEO CV should obviously include other details that add value: Your ‘Education Background’, as some businesses or agencies do want to see courses you’ve taken or an SEO related degree: Your ‘Contact Details’, to make it as easy as possible for an interested employer to contact you: And perhaps even additional (but not strictly necessary) sections like a ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section, to make you stand out as a person, and more than just a CV.
One of the most important areas of your CV, and unfortunately, often one of the sections that most people get wrong is your ‘Work Experience’ section.
The person reading your SEO CV doesn’t want to just see what responsibilities you had in your last job. If you work in an agency as a SEO Account Executive, your role will likely consist of On-Page SEO (Keyword research, copywriting, competitor analysis, technical SEO audits) and potentially some Off-Page SEO (Link building, digital PR, guest posting). And an SEO Manager knows this.
While every role is different, an SEO Director or SEO Manager who reads your CV will likely know the broad strokes of the work you’ve been doing. But what they want to see is what you achieved in your last role. A good previous work experience section should:
This section from our example below, describes purely the responsibilities of the role they filled. While it gives information on what the SEO Executive can do and has done before, it doesn’t impress the reader at all.
Compared to this below example, where the SEO Account Executive focuses on the impact they had in their role. This one gives the reader much more confidence in the SEOs ability to perform the task, and they’re more likely to be offered an interview.
Your skills section should be the most straightforward. Here you should include your SEO skills in order of importance to the role. You want the SEO skills that the role you’re applying for is looking front and centre so the hiring manager reads these first.
These could be separated into sections: Such as ‘Technical SEO skills’, ‘Content SEO skills’, ‘Soft skills’ and ‘Technology/ Software’ you have worked with.
This serves two purposes: Showing that you have the technical ability to do the job at hand, and helping your CV to pass through any applicant screening software. We don’t use any here at Herd, but it’s not all too uncommon for larger companies to use automatic CV screening tools to screen through the hundreds of CVs they receive.
Your career summary should be a small, condensed version of your CV: The highlights of your professional career, your strengths, and your personality. So it’s often easier to leave this until after you’ve filled in the other sections, and can cherry pick the important information.
You should aim to avoid generic statements that can be found on anyone’s CV:
And should instead aim for statements that are more specific to you, your job and your industry. Something that sets you apart:
While they take more time, effort and space, the latter talk more in depth about what makes you a great SEO, not just a great employee.
On average, a hiring manager spends 6 – 7 seconds reading a CV before they make a decision whether to continue reading, or reject the applicant. Which means you have a short window of time to grab the hiring manager’s attention.
One way to do this is to have a CV layout that helps hiring managers to find the information they need to see you’re the right candidate for the job. A typical SEO CV, thrown together in Microsoft Word, looks like this:
The layout is clean and efficient. It doesn’t waste any space, and is informative. And it is clearly broken up into different sections, to help the reader quickly navigate to any section they are looking for: All great qualities of a CV. But it also isn’t eye-catching at all, and is visually bland. And when job applications routinely see hundreds of applicants, (easily going into the thousands for prestigious or larger companies), you want your CV to stand out from the crowd.
Compare it to the same SEO CV below:
Meanwhile, we have this SEO CV example. It contains much of the same information, but is immediately different visually. Colour is used to break up the CV into the three distinct sections, and keep it visually interesting for the reader.
Additionally, this CV appeals to the two most common eye scanning techniques, the F-Pattern and the Layer-cake Pattern. The F-Pattern is where people reading large bodies of text scan for the information they need in an F shaped pattern (see below). The Layer-cake Pattern, is where a reader leaps down the page from subheading to subheading, to find the content the section or information are looking for.
If you’re just starting out in your career and writing an SEO Executive CV, things can be a bit tricker. When you don’t have mountains of experience to rely on, you don’t have as much to separate you from your competition… So you have to be a bit more creative with your efforts.
When you don’t have the work experience, you need to delve deeper into the experience you do have. What skills did you learn in your degree? For example, if you studied History, then you should emphasise your skills with research and writing, attractive skills as an SEO. Or if you studied Business, then you would be able to discuss your experience in data analysis and account and budget management.
If you don’t have much SEO experience, you’ll have to rely on any other work experience that you have. Even if it’s experience that isn’t relevant to SEO, there will be transferable skills for you to discuss.
For example, volunteer work is a great way of gaining experience, and it shows attractive qualities: You’re not afraid to try something new and you’re proactive in your efforts to gain professional experience and learn more, even with no obvious monetary incentive: All attractive qualities to have on your CV.
If you don’t have the technical skills for the job, you will want to place a greater emphasis on the soft skills you do have: data analysis, research, writing, time management, teamwork. All great skills for an SEO, that you don’t need to have previous experience working in SEO to learn.
Of course, nothing replaces actual technical knowledge and ability. So if you’re struggling to land any interviews, it’s well worth the time investing in yourself by taking additional courses to give you the technical skills you are lacking.
If you’re struggling in your SEO job search or even just sprucing up your CV, we can help. For a confidential chat, you can speak to one of our digital recruitment experts here, for a chat about what we can do for you. Or if you’re ready to start looking for your next SEO role, have a look at our open vacancies.
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