For a long time, i have been writing on this topic. Finally got the time to complete it. Whatever I am going to write is all based on my own ill experiences as an In-house SEO. So what u r going 2 read will be generally first hand information:
Fake Interviews conducted by Companies
R u looking out for free a free SEO consultation for your client? Organize fake interviews. Companies when short of ideas and strategies or simply lack expertise, may come up with such fake interviews. They short list 8-10 guys from job portals on the basis of their experience and skill sets. Then they ask them to come down for interview. Often these interviews are several hours long or may run for couple of days and consist of a written test in which a website is assigned to you and you are asked how u will do its SEO.
This generally includes keyword research, competitors’ analysis and determining organic strategies to promote the website. Once you complete this test you are told that you will be notified in few days and those few days never come. If you inquire later, u r told that the position is filled. This thing happened with me several times and I didn’t have any idea of such tactics at that time.
During one such interview I asked one employee of the company and he was totally unaware of any such vacancy in his department. Same thing happened with me day before yesterday. I went to this company for interview and the Director Operations asked me that my selection will be on the sole basis of the marketing plan I come up with for their website. I can bet he told the same thing to all other applicants. Still haven’t got any response from him. So my advice to you is, when you go to a company for an interview, try to get in touch with the employees there and inquire them about the job opening and what the company is really. A disgruntled employee will always be happy to spill the beans. Another good way is to read reviews about the company on review sites like mouthshut.com
Bonded Labor in SEO
Off late I went to this company for interview. They took several rounds of interviews. I must admit they asked very good questions (may be copied from SEOchat). Anyways, when I was finally selected they asked me to sign a 2 years bond with detriments of Rs 100,000 (which I refused). According to that bond I am legally bound to work with the company for 2 years and if I seek employment elsewhere during the bond period I will have to pay Rs 100,000 as compensation. They asked me to produce two checks at the day of joining; one is of Rs 100 and another of Rs 100,000. The company justifies its actions by saying that they want strong commitments from their employees. Often they ask you to sign the bond immediately as they are in a hurry to close the position. Never sign such type of bonds. These bonds are crafted in such a way, that they are always in favor of the company. A company can create ‘N’ number of situations that force you to leave the company on your own will. One good excuse is, your performance is not satisfactory.
They will give you the choice to resign or take your termination letter. If you resign on your own will you pay the compensation and if u get the termination letter, u will face problem in getting further employment. Other thing they can do is exploitation. They may ask you to work 12 hrs a day, 6 days a week in the name of meeting project deadlines. Remember most of them charge their clients on hourly basis but will completely ignore your working hours. In the end you will get a fixed salary whether you work for 40 hrs a week or 60 hrs a week. In any case you are stucked and have become their slave once you sign the bond.
Contract of Employment from Hell
Read it carefully several times before you sign it esp. fine print. You may read something like ‘Company reserves the right to terminate your service at any time without any prior notice’. In this case you can be fired any day. Make sure contract of employment is duly signed by a competent authority (generally HR Head) on the company’s letter head and with the company’s seal. Each page of the contract must be duly signed. If contract of employment doesn’t mention the HR policies, you must ask for them in black and white and again duly signed.
Also make sure that you are applying for the right job. Often candidates think they are applying for a permanent position. While majority of time, companies do tell explicitly what they are looking for (permanent or contract position) but sometimes they deliberately hide. You may be getting hired only for a particular client or a project. A multi million dollar New York based company (cant name it or they will sue me lol) with clients like Barclay and offices in several countries did such type of thing with my friend. He was never told during the entire interview process that he will be hired for a 6 month contract job. When he was selected and finally got the offer letter, he came to know about all this. He left his permanent job for this 6 month contract job in this time of recession. Hadn’t he read the contract carefully he could have missed the very important line. When he asked them for the explanation they replied back in a rude and very unprofessional way.
Here I would like to add one more thing. Get aware of labor laws in your country. I worked for a wolverhampton based company last year. I once asked for two days paid leave and my UK boss refused it on the grounds that they is no provision of paid leaves in UK and since I work for a UK company I won’t get any paid leave. I was shocked. Don’t people need leaves in UK. Then I did some research on UK labor laws and came to know that there is provision. Moreover you can’t apply UK labor laws in another country. Anyways, I took the leave as I had too.
I am big, Join me
Wow I am going to work for a very big company. Don’t be a fool. Half of them are not even 1/3 rd of what they claim to be. I used to get excited when I see my prospective employer’s offices in several countries on his website. Wow. They have offices in Sydney, new York, London, Singapore, Dubai, Quebec……dadada. Never judge a company by its website and office locations esp. when the office where you are standing, sucks in every possible way. “We have just opened our branch here. Our head office is in New York and operations center is in Indonesia. We have 200 employees in our head office and 120 employees in Indonesia. Majority of our clients are from US and UK”. Obviously you won’t be going to New York and Indonesia just to check out the offices and employee base. Most probably the company is a start up and is just trying hard (off course in a deceptive way) to get good employees. If a company is truly multinational, the infrastructure there will itself speak the truth. Often a simple web search is enough to figure out how big a company really is. And I can bet, they use the same tactics to get foreign clients.
Other deceptive way to attract clients and employees is the ‘ISO 9001:2000’ label. While there is no guarantee that whether a company is truly ISO certified. But even if is, such certification doesn’t guarantee any quality of end products and services. It simply means that formalized business processes are being followed.
Now comes the references part. Some companies operate under different company names like XYZ software, abc Technologies, WXT group (I wish I could give you the real company names) etc and come up with several websites. Generally only one company is registered, the rest are fake. They make these fake companies their own clients to acquire some real clients. No matter you call any client; you are eventually calling the same company. Same can be the case with offices in foreign countries. Most of the time, you won’t find any physical address of the foreign offices. Just phone numbers and addresses are given which can be easily bought and routed. Even if physical address is present, who is going to check it out anyways? A truly multinational company has global presence even on the web. You can easily find out through press releases and news sharing sites about their international presence.
Buying references is also another deceptive way to trick clients. Some companies tie up with several other companies and make them their virtual clients. You call any client and u will get a positive response. I learned this the hard way, when I assigned a web development project to one such company. I was amazed by their web designing projects and didn’t think twice before hiring them. What they did is, they ruined the whole project. They weren’t able to live up to my expectations. Later I had to cancel the project with them.
Interview your Interviewer
Often in-house SEOs complain of unrealistic expectations of his manager. This usually happens when your manager is just a manager and not an experienced SEO. So during the interview, judge your manager’s knowledge level while he is judging yours. Don’t be happy if u figure out, he is ignorant in SEO and ur job will be easy (as he will not be able to track ur work). This ignorant SEO monster will later dance on ur head when u will not be able to meet his unrealistic expectations. Often in big companies, you may be several levels down in organizational hierarchy and you don’t have the authority to bypass your immediate boss let alone the marketing head. So your only hope is your manager, who if good in SEO can convey your problems easily to his seniors. No doubt, if u get the chance to work with someone with excellent knowledge of SEO, ur job is only going to be less difficult and more productive +chance of learning new skills all the time.
IMO the best way to trust someone is either through a personal reference or through a good interview. It’s better to ask a company how exactly they do SEO and then testmarket their SEO strategies, instead of cross checking all there references and trusting them blindly after that. This filter is independent of company’s size and market value. I think it’s a very good way to separate wheat from the chaff and it will also give opportunities to those SEOs who really know their work but dont have a big name.