How to advance your SEM career: 9 attributes to master

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This article details how aspiring search marketers can advance their careers through accelerated job performance and proactive outreach. 

The best path to advance your SEM career involves:

  • Delivering stellar execution and task management. 
  • Providing incredible contributions to your team.
  • Taking ownership of projects of any size.

Aim to exemplify the following nine attributes, and you’ll be on your way to a thriving search marketing career. 

Delivering stellar results

Individuals who bring a proactive approach to their roles will grow faster. 

Within most SEM teams, there is an endless list of tasks, and anyone who jumps in and starts acting as part of the team will get noticed and promoted.

Here’s how to bring your best self to your position daily and do outstanding work.  

1. Execute flawlessly within accounts

SEM is complicated. You must consider hundreds of nuances during each campaign launch. An incorrectly clicked radio button within Google Ads can cause an error with significant negative impacts.

Flawless execution will get gradual attention when settling into your first role in SEM. Mistakes gain immediate attention, which is not the best way to get on your manager’s radar.

SEM is fast-paced. You’ll have numerous tasks to complete each day. Keep yourself from being pushed to execute more than you are comfortable with. When you feel rushed, mistakes will undoubtedly creep into your work. 

2. Manage tasks and deadlines relentlessly

Staying on top of your daily and weekly tasks is critical. Team members and clients depend on you to complete work on time. 

In addition, being responsible for your workload builds confidence in your overall performance. 

Begin each day by reviewing your top priorities. Then, end each day by setting your priorities for the following morning. This process will significantly impact your productivity, mental health, and stress. 

Also, set the appropriate amount of time for each project each day. Prioritizing tasks and allocating enough time per project will ensure you can execute flawlessly.

3. Track long-term goals and milestones

Own your development. Collaborate with your manager to set goals and milestones for the upcoming three or six months. Work together to establish goals to support your team, advance your responsibilities, and develop your skills. 

Don’t rely on your manager to maintain your long-term goals. It’s easy to lose sight of your long-term plans due to the urgent needs that arise each day. 

Instead, be proactive by providing regular updates on your goal progress. Your manager will appreciate it when you take ownership of your development. 

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Being an incredible contributor

An exceptional team member is someone who actively contributes to their team. 

Awesome team members help everyone in their group win. Keep in mind – when the team wins, you win too. 

4. Train/mentor junior team members

If you have the experience and availability to mentor junior team members, go for it. Alternatively, you could find a mentor within your company for yourself. 

Mentoring can provide valuable insights to your mentee and help you hone your skills. Providing guidance and insight forces you to clarify your thoughts and perspective. 

You could ask to form one if you don’t have access to a formal mentorship program. 

5. Bring a steady stream of innovative ideas

Innovation is everyone’s job. You can bring new, creative ideas to your team at any career stage. 

In addition, your manager and team will appreciate someone who is proactively solving problems and improving processes. 

If you are at a different point of presenting new strategy suggestions to clients or C-Level executives in your organization, then you should aim for what is within reach.

Pitch new process ideas to your team. Propose new campaign strategies to your manager. Look for new, better ways to help the team and provide solutions.

6. Offer to review accounts from other teams

Learning is a two-way street. If you work in an agency, you could offer to review accounts for different groups. 

Account teams benefit from a third-party perspective. You could discover areas of opportunity or potential problems within an account. Offering account reviews is an excellent contribution to a team-focused mentality. 

Also, you will likely learn from other teams in this process. You could see strategies and techniques that you have yet to try before. 

Offering to review accounts can help open new perspectives that you can bring back to your team. 

Taking ownership

Managers will notice when team members step up to lead projects. Whenever possible, take ownership of projects of any size. 

Demonstrate that you have the drive to take ownership and the ability to manage. 

7. Ask to lead a new project

Taking ownership of a project happens in many forms. 

For example, you can offer to resolve a reporting or tracking issue. In addition, you can propose a new process to streamline or improve collaboration. 

This behavior shows that you want to solve issues. Taking ownership of any size shows that you are proactive and have a positive attitude toward finding new ways of working. 

Don’t underestimate the power of proactivity and ownership when thinking about your career.

8. Gain a holistic understanding of your business

If you are in-house, this means learning more about your company’s strategy. 

This means seeking additional information about your client’s business if you are with an agency. 

You’ll better understand the business you are promoting and how digital marketing strategy will drive growth. 

You can set up Google Alerts for your business or your client’s business. 

If applicable, you can attend quarterly earnings calls. You could also subscribe to your client’s marketing newsletters or other publications. 

9. Make strategy presentations to senior team members

You might not be able to make presentations to clients, prospects, or the C-level executives at your company. However, you can still gain valuable presentation experience in your available setting. 

You can take the projects you own (see the point above) and present your findings to senior team members.

In alignment with the above, you could present high-level findings about your business/client to your team. These presentations can be low-stress but high-yield in terms of experience. 

The path to growing your SEM career 

These ideas will help level up your engagement in your current role. 

Consider how you can bring stellar execution and task management, incredible contributions to your team, and ownership of projects of any size. 

The SEM career playbook series covers must-know tips and advice for getting started with and navigating a career in search marketing. 

The first article, “SEM career playbook: Overview of a growing industry,” introduced roles within search marketing. The second one, “How to excel in your current and future SEM roles,” discussed ways to capture learning opportunities for building your career.

In our final installment of this series, we’ll explore boosting core skill sets to advance your SEM career. 

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily SMM Panel. Staff authors are listed here.

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About The Author

Joseph Kerschbaum is Senior Vice President of Search & Growth Labs for 3Q/DEPT. During his 20 years of experience in digital marketing, Joseph has worked with businesses of every size from SMBs to enterprise-scale. Joseph has been a regular speaker at digital marketing conferences for over a decade. Joseph is a regular contributor to SMM Panel. He is co-author of the Wiley/Sybex book, “Pay-Per-Click SEM: One Hour a Day,” which was published long enough ago to be outdated but that is a good thing because SEM is such a dynamic industry.