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5 Skills & Traits Every Baby SEM Should Have

Published: August 22, 2012

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by Sr. Manager of Production Services Jen Stanisa, who has been one of PPC Associates’ busiest bees in hiring and training future SEM all-stars.
As a Senior Production Manager of a fast-growing agency, I have a lot of experience in training new hires who were interested in SEM but had little to no experience in the field. I have been in interviews where people state they “have an analytical mindset,” which is great if you understand what that actually means. I would suggest that there are 5 basic skills and traits that are must-haves when it comes to diving into the world of SEM – whether you have career experience and are looking to switch industries or are fresh out of college and looking to get in the door.
1)      You Use Reasoning to Deliver Results
The ability to use reasoning while keeping the bigger account picture in mind is important. Understanding how specific clients need applications of larger concepts, such as capturing user intent through customized ad copy and how campaign structure ultimately affects the sustainability of an account, will drive positive results. Every team member armed with client knowledge should understand how new initiatives fit into a broader, more calculated account strategy and how to go about executing tasks to meet those goals.
2)      You’re an Excel Maven (or Can Learn it at Warp Speed)
There’s no way around this one: resistance is futile when it comes to working in Excel. We utilize Excel for over 90% of the production work done on accounts and have dedicated resources to developing best practices and shortcuts for all the reporting, calculating, and formatting that take place. Outside of first-party and third-party platform tools, Excel shortcuts and tricks are foremost in helping us execute tasks at scale and allowing us to dedicate more time to the tasks that actually require human intellect.
3)      You Strive for Constant Improvement
We refer to this internally as our kaizen initiative. This philosophy is highly relevant in the sense that complacent employees are not as productive as employees who demonstrate willingness to take on new challenges. Kaizen also requires every team member at every level of the company to be conscious of finding new ways to perform more efficiently. What we find is that the learning curve is huge for new production-side hires who have virtually no background in SEM; however, this eventually tapers off as time goes on. Individuals must actively seek new learning opportunities within the company to further personal growth – and to stay on top of the SEM game.
4)      You’re a Strong Communicator
There is often a misconception that Account Associates and Account Coordinators work in silos, completing directives given by Account Managers with minimal communication. The opposite is actually true. We foster a collaborative environment, and strong communication skills are critically important when working alongside a remote account management team. I have seen instances when a miscommunication has led to hours of unnecessary work that could have been avoided if everyone involved just took the time to address the issue. With the adoption of technology as our third arm, we have to rely on a variety of channels from our project management platform to our instant messenger service to communicate more effectively.
5)      You’re a Chameleon
The ability to adapt and change in a constantly evolving field is necessary to become a subject matter expert in SEM. In the environment of a fast-growing agency, it’s even more imperative to be flexible and open to new opportunities outside your comfort level.
It’s arguable that there are more than five skills or traits that someone new to SEM should possess, but in my experience, these are the core attributes that make an individual standout as they develop their career path as a search engine marketer. Additions? Arguments? Please leave a comment!
– Jen Stanisa, Sr. Manager of Production Services

25 E Washington Street
Suite 420

Chicago, IL 60602(650) 539-4124


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